Taishishan is the eastern of the two major peaks of Songshan in Henan Province. This view of Taishishan is from the Buddhist temple 法王寺 Fawangsi.|
When I visited Songshan I was looking forward to studying and seeing ancient historical sites that Han Dynasty emperors had visited over 2000 years ago, and sites where Tang Dynasty poets had written poems 1,300. Little did I realize that when I arrived in the Songshan valley that I would be standing in a valley that was formed when Songshan split apart 570 million years ago! Now that is history! Today the two main peaks of Songshan, Taishishan and Shaoshishan, stand 4 miles apart. They were once one maountain. How did the rulers and sorcerers of China, over 2000 years ago, sense that this was such a special numinous place and make it the central mountain of their five mountain mandala?
Songshan is now a UNESCO Geological Park and is famous for its complete outcrops of stratigraphic sections spanning a period of 3.5 billion years. The boundaries of angular unconformities were shaped by three Precambrian tectonic events. These were the Songyang movement (2.5 billion years ago) the Zhongyue movement (1.8 billion years ago), and the Shaolin Movement (570 million years ago). With these tectonic disturbances, stratigraphic sections of Archean, Proterozoic, Mesozoic, and Cenzoic were brought together. It is generally known as the "geo-family of five generations" and is a textbook of geological history.
The Songshan Mountains have many historical sites. The best known and most magnificent of these is Zhongyue (Central Mountain) Temple. Situated at the southern foot of the mountain, the temple was first built during the Qin Dynasty (221 B.C.-206 B.C.) and was rebuilt in subsequent dynasties. Other famous historical sites include the Shaolin Temple, the Songyang Academy of Classical Learning, Songyue Temple Pagoda, and Guanxing (Star Viewing) Terrace.