Located in the west of Henan Province, the northwest of Dengfeng City, Mount Song is one of the Five Famous Mountains in China, and it is also called as Zhongyue, which means middle mountain (among the five mountains). Covering an area of 450 km2, Mount Song is composed of two mountains – Taishi Mountain and Shaoshi Mountain. The two mountains have 72 peaks in total, and the lowest one is 320m in altitude, while the highest one is 1512m in altitude. Sitting next to the ancient capital Luoyang, it's an important barrier for Luoyang in ancient time. Rooted in deep culture background, Mount Song is also the birthplace for Zen Buddhism in China, and also the Taoist holy land.
There are three scenic areas in Mount Song: Shaolin Temple Scenic Area, Zhongyue Scenic Area and Songyang Scenic Area. These three scenic areas covers all gorgeous attractions in Mount Song, including the birthplace of Zen Buddhism – Shaolin Temple, the largest pagoda groups in China – Pagoda Forest, the highest and oldest cypress, the existing oldest astronomical observatory, Zhongyue Temple built in Qin Dynasty, one of the four greatest academies – Songyang Academy, etc.
Shaolin Temple Scenic Area is loacted in Shaoshi Mountain of Mount Song. This scenic spot has several fascinating attractions. Shaolin Temple is the birthplace of Shaolin Kungfu, and it's the dreamland for Chinese Kungfu fans; tourists can see Kungfu Performance in the temple, even learn some Kungfu here. Pagoda Forest of Shaolin Temple is the existing largest pagoda forest in China, and each pagoda here is the tomb for the abbots or famous monks in Shaolin Temple. Sanhuang Village Scenic Resort is in the west of Shaolin Mountain, and the village itself is a natural village hanging in the half way up the mountain cliff. To get there, tourists will walk through a plank road built along the face of a cliff. On the way to Sanhuan Village, you'll be amazed by the awe-inspiring scenery of Mount Song.
See detailed information, please see Shaolin Temple Travel Guide>>
Zhongyue Scenic Area is located at the east part of Mount Song, main attractions are Zhongyue Temple, Luya Waterfall and Astronomical Observatory. Among them, Zhongyue Temple, which is sitting at the foot of Taishi Mountain, is the core part of Zhongyue Scenic Area. First built in Qin Dynasty (221 BC ~ 207BC), Zhongyue Temple is the holy land for Quanzhen Taoism in China, and it's the largest and best preserved ancient architectural complex among the Five Famous Mountains in China. Luya Waterfall is located at under the Xuanlian Peak in Taishi Mountain. Precipitous cliff and rare stones sitting in this area, while a clear stream runs down from the gorge, just like water bead curtains hanging over the sky. Astronomical Observatory is located in Gaocheng Town in Dengfeng City. Built by astronomer Guoshoujin in Yuan Dynasty, it has a history over 700 years till today, and it's the existing oldest astronomical observatory in China.
Songyang Scenic Area is also located in Taishi Mountain. This area is centered on Songyang Academy, and it also covers famous attractions around the academy, like Huishan Temple, Songyuesi Pagoda, Junji Peak, Laomu Cave, Fawang Temple, etc.
Songyang Academy, together with Yingtian Academy, Yuelu Academy and Bailudong Academy, are called as the Four Greatest Academies in ancient China. It's one of the earliest academies in China. First built in Northern Wei Dynasty (386 ~ 534), many famous Confucian scholars had given lectures in here, including Sima Guang, Fan Zhongyan, Cheng Yi, Cheng Hao, etc. The academy has a total different architectural style from the temples in China. It's more simple and elegant.
Songyuesi Pagoda was built in Northern Wei Dynasty, about 525 AD, and it's the existing oldest brick pagoda in China. The pagoda is in a dodecagon shape, and the pagoda body can be divided into two parts, it's very close to the "stupa" in India. Junji Peak is the main peak of Mount Song. Climbing up along with the stairs, the road is becoming more and more steep. After several steep roads, you'll arrive at Junji Palace, then keep climbing up, you will arrive at the top of Junji Peak. Standing on the peak and overlook, Mount Song will show its grandeur and beauty to you.
Mount Song is divided into Shaoshi Mountain and Taishi Mountain, with Shaolin Temple on the Shaoshi Mountain. If you have only one day, then it's suggested to visit Shaolin Temple and other classic attractions in Shaoshi Mountain.
Recommended One Day Route: Shaolin Temple – Pagoda Forest – Sanhuang Village Scenic Resort.
After breakfast, visit Shaolin Temple. Tourists can visit all halls in the temple and watch the Kungfu Performance, then visit Pagoda Forest in the temple. After that, take a cable car from the cable station behind Shaolin Temple to Sanhuang Village. The cableway is about 3000m and it's the longest cableway in Asia. Visit Sanhuang Village, after that, go back the same way you came. If you have two days, then you can almost visit all highlights of Mount Song.
Recommended Two Days Route:
Day 1: Shaolin Temple – Pagoda Forest – Sanhuang Village Scenic Resort (details see the above)
Day 2: Songyang Academy – Dafawang Temple – Songyuesi Pagoda – Zhongyue Temple In the morning, visit Songyang Academy first to experience the Confucian culture, then head to Dafawang Temple and Songyuesi Pagoda to experience the quiet and beautiful architecture. After that, go back to visit Zhongyue Temple.
Dengfeng is not large and less development than other cities, so the transportation is not very good. However, it's very close to Zhengzhou and Luoyang, so tourists can get to these two cities and then transfer to Dengfeng.
By Flight: Dengfeng has no airport, so tourists can take flight to Zhengzhou or Luoyang first, then take bus to railway stations in Zhengzhou or Luoyang, the bus stations in the two cities are just near the railway station. Then take long-distance coach to Dengfeng.
By Train: Dengfeng has no railway station, tourists can take train to Zhengzhou first, then take bus from there to Dengfeng.
After getting to Dengfeng, there are two bus stations, Dengfeng West Bus Station and Dengfeng Bus Stations. Tourists can take bus to Shaolin Temple, Zhongyue Temple and other famous attractions in Dengfeng from there. Besides, in the east side of Luoyang Railway Station, there is direct bus to Shaolin Temple in 6:00 am and 7:00. And all long-distance coaches from Luoyang to Dengfeng will pass Shaolin Daokou, and Shaolin Temple is only 2km from Shaolin Daokou.
Now, there are many starred hotels under the foot of Mount Song, and in the mountain, various featured hostels are also good choices. Most people will choose to go back to Luoyang or Zhengzhou in the same day, so it's easy to book accommodation in Mount Song.
The best time to visit is spring and autumn. Mount Song is featured in northern temperate continental monsoon climate. With distinctive four seasons, the annual average temperature at the mountain foot is 14.3℃, while the average temperature on the mountain is 8.5℃. Spring is the warm and great time to see flowers all over the mountain. Autumn is the best time to appreciate the red leaves on the mountain.
If you will stay one night in Mount Song, then you can watch Shaolin Zen Music Ritual. From mid-March to mid-November, the show will be presented every day at 20:15. The 70-minute show is a large-scale performance with real scenery as its background, and audiences will sit on futon to watch. The show will perform Zen martial art, and monks from Shaolin Temple will chant on the stage.
Besides the music ritual, tourists can also see Shaolin Kungfu Performance in Shaolin Temple every day, and the performance time is 9:30, 10:30, 11:30, 14:00, 16:00 and 17:00.
The weather on the mountain is cooler than Dengfeng city, so prepare some warm clothes when you visit. Besides that, there are many temples on Mount Song, and tourists need to pay attention to the etiquettes when meeting with the monks. See detailed information, please see Tourism Taboos>> in Shaolin Travel Guide.
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