China's Sacred M​ountains The Sacred Mountains of China are divided into two groups: one associated with Taoism religion, and the other with Buddhism. The group associated with Taoism is known as the Five Great Mountains, and the group associated with Buddhism is called The Four Sacred Mountains. Together there are nine which make up the sacred mountains of china. They all have religious importance as well as cultural relevance. There are a variety of things to do when visiting them, and many are home to religious monestaries and temples.



nuwa.jpg In Chinese Mythology, Nuwa, Goddess of People, as she is known but she also formed the 5 sacred moutains. She is said to have the upper body of a beautiful woman and the lower body a dragon, fish or serpent depending on the tale; Nuwa was on earth and became bored so started making humans out of yellow clay, but she wanted to make them faster, so she took a string and dipped it in mud and let the droppings of mud form the humans. Therefore, the Nobles were formed by the clay and the peasants formed by the mud. Later, after the earth was full of women and men, the sky started to fall. She saved the people by melting 5 mountains together and stopping the sky from falling. They also say that since the mountains held the sky from falling, climbing the mountains brings the people closer to heaven.

People wonder why there are sacred mountains. The Chinese people believe that the mountains, especially the tallest ones, are pillars that seperate heaven and earth. The realm of heaven covered the realm of earth so the mountains were supporting the sky. The story of Nuwa is also in another version; The sky was falling so Nuwa killed a giant turtle and used it's legs to support the sky, from there, forming the 4 sacred mountains, bringing peace and harmony to the people. They are also called sacred mountains because of another myth, Sages called "immortals" who lived deep in the mountain wilderness, eating herbs and drinking elixirs (sweet flavored liquid). They lived to be 400 to 800 years old, the Sages living in those areas made the place sacred, having access to the heaven realm.


Map Sacred Mountains of China
Map Sacred Mountains of China

Red- Taoist
Purple- Buddhist

General Information

China has 9 total sacred mountains; 5 Taoist, and 4 Buddhist.

Hua Shan

The Taoist sacred mountains are:

  • Tài Shān, Taoist mountain of the East; 1,545 meters (translates to Leading Peaceful Mountain)
  • Huà Shān, Taoist mountain of the West; 1,997 m (translates to Splendid Mountain)
  • Héng Shān Běi, Taoist mountain of the North; 2,017 m (translates to Permanent Mountain)
  • Héng Shān Nán, Taoist mountain of the South; 1,290 m (translates to Balancing Mountain)
  • Sōng Shān, Taoist mountain of the Center; 1,494 m (translates to Lofty Mountain)

Tài Shān; Stairway to Heaven
Tài Shān is the most sacred peak to the Chinese people since the third millennium in B.C. The emperors of China believed that Tài Shān was the Emperor of Heaven, and they recieved their power to rule the people. The mountain functioned as God, watching over the affairs of the people and was also the communication to God. The Stairway to Heaven stretches from top to bottom, over 6 miles and 7000 steps leading up to summit. Not just royalty favored Tài Shān, but also artist and poets. As you walk up and look at the walls, you can see the poets work and tributes carved into the walls, they show importance and beauty; Poet Dufu poems' express his respect for the stairway. People who travel there can enjoy their work while walking to the top, and according to a legend, for those who climb the stairway will live to be 100. The summit holds numerous temples, small restuarants, hotels, and shops for people to visit and stay. Two important temples are at the top of the peak, they are the Temple of Jade Emperor and his daughter, Temple of the Princess of the Azure Clouds; most frequently visited by Chinese women. Thousand of people climb the mountain every day, and people say that you will still see an old women with tiny, bound feet of pre-communist time.

Jiuhua Shan

The Buddhist sacred mountains are:

Wǔtái Shān
Wǔtái Shān is home to many of China's most important monasteries and temples. The name, Wǔtái Shān, refers to flat tops of the five principal peaks. Wǔtái Shān became the most sacred site of Chinese Buddhism around A.D. 67, it holds more than 50 temples, the famous ones are Xiangtong, Pusading, and Foguang. Wǔtái Shān was the first of the four mountains to be identified and sometimes referred to "first among the four great mountains." It's also home of the oldest wooden existent buildings in China that survived since the era of the Tang Dynasty.


The Sacred Mountains of China are full of culture. Most of them have multiple temples or monasteries on their slopes which serve as a tourist attraction, and they all have memorable scenery best experienced through a hike. The history of the mountains is fascinating in and of itself, and they are home to many ancient buildings.While visiting these amazing and breathtaking mountains you will more then likely come across a few monkeys. Visitors are discouraged to feed them any food that they happen to have with them like potato chips although few actually refrain from doing so, if you feel the need to give these creatures food you can purchase nuts to give to them. Some tourists however don't buy the nuts and feed the monkeys the food that they eat which often results in rather chubby monkeys.

Emei Shan Baby Macaque
Emei Shan Baby Macaque

Monkeys hiking mountain Emei Shan

Below is a video of a tourist visiting Huà Shān

wikipedia site