Song Shan Pilgrimage

Located 47 miles southwest of Zhengzhou in Henan Province. The Middle Sacred Mountain (4,959 feet above sea level) is famous for the 72 temples on the 72 slopes. The Shaolin Temple, apart from being the cradle of the Chan -Zen- Sect of Buddhism in China, is popular for its historic role in the development of Chinese martial arts known as Wu Gong. 

What To See

The Zhong Yue temple contains about one thousand halls and pavilions. The famous four iron guards still protect it. Ten feet tall, they were cast in 1064 AD, modelled on the soldiers of their time. Another important relic is " the true map of the five mountains", caved in 1604, placing Song Shan in the centre, Bei heng shan to the north, Nan heng shan to the south, Hua shan to the west and Tai shan to the east. 

Shaolin temple was the meditation place for Da Mo, also known as Bodhidharma, the 28th incarnation of the Buddha. He spent nine years in solitary meditation staring at the wall of a cave and when he emerged, he founded a new sect of buddhism, known as 'Chan' in China and 'Zen' in Japan. You can still see the wall that Da Mo faced when he was meditating. On the wall, there is a vague human image, said to be left by Da Mo himself. 

Shaolin also contains a magnificent forest of stupas, the largest collection in China. The oldest stupa here, built in 746, is also the oldest stupa in China. 

Getting Around

There are two ranges, each of 36 peaks. The higher is Taishi Shan, the lower Shaoshi Shan. It is a four hour climb to the summit of Taishi Shan. The Shaoshi Shan can be climbed via a cablecar, each costing CNY 35 approx one way; or by foot (about 5.5 hours round trip).


CNY 100 entrance fee (includes Shaolin Temple).
Various for cable cars but an average of CNY 35 one way.

Getting There

The nearest airport and railway station are at Zhengzhou. Independent minibuses link Zhengzhou with the Shaolin Temple but you have to wait until they are full and stops may well be made en route. Scheduled buses to Dengfeng are more expensive but are a better bet. From Dengfeng you can take a short minibus ride to Shaolin. There are also bus connections between Shaolin and Luoyang.

The Tao Holy Mountains

Tai Shan, Shandong province, 1545 meters.
Heng Shan Bei, Shanxi province, 2017 meters.
Hua Shan, Shanxi province, 1997 meters.
Heng Shan Nan, Hunan province, 1290 meters.
Song Shan, Henan province, 1494 meters.

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