Laoshan Mountain of Qingdao, Shandong province [Photo/qingdaonews.com]
QINGDAO: China has many famous mountains, including the "Five High Mountains"- its most famous peaks - but they are far from the sea, unlike 1,132-m Laoshan Mountain in Qingdao that has both grand vistas and a storied history.
Bordering Laoshan Bay in the east and close by the Yellow Sea in the south, ocean and mountains seem to link together at the towering peak often shrouded in mist.
A rock at the foot of the mountain is inscribed to note it is "the first famous maritime mountain", paying homage to the fact Laoshan is the only peak on the sea in China over 1 km in altitude.
Beautiful landscape of Laoshan Mountain [Photo/qingdaonews.com]
Along with verdant trees and waterfalls, the mountain has rocks that vary in shape so much that they can look human, or like animals, while others are known as "Beauty Rock" or "Fingers Rock".
Some of its trees have longer histories than most nations, including cypresses dating to the Han Dynasty (206BC-AD220), elms from the Tang Dynasty (618-907) and gingkoes from the Song Dynasty (960-1279).
The ancient trees, together with plentiful birds and more than 1,000 kinds of flowers in spring and summer, help make Laoshan popular with those who like nature.
One of the most attractive spots is Beijiushui - or North Nine Waters - which flow through many bends, each noted as "a water".
The mountain is also known for its mineral water, which is said to invigorate digestion and circulation - perhaps one of the reasons Tsingtao Beer is so popular.
Taiqing Palace is the oldest and largest Taoist temple on Laoshan Mountain, dating back 2,100 years. Built during the Western Han Dynasty (206BC-AD24), the complex reached its current size - 30,000 sq m with 140 structures - during the Song Dynasty.
Taiqing Palace [Photo/qingdaonews.com]
Laoshan Taoism has a very long history. It exerted a great influence as early as 2,300 years ago.
The main hall in Taiqing Palace Temple is Sanqing Hall honoring highest deity of Taoism. Two rare camellia trees more than 700 years old mark its entrance.
Inside, more than 100 Chinese characters known as fu - meaning auspicious - are painted in different calligraphy styles on the wall.
Tourists come to touch these letters to pray for happiness and good luck.
The famous writer Pu Songling in the Qing Dynasty (1644-1911) once visited Laoshan Mountain and then wrote two famous novels, Fragrant Jade and The Taoist of Laoshan Mountain.
Fragrant Jade is about flowers changing into girls and falling in love with a young man. The Taoist of Laoshan Mountain describes a Taoist who gained the ability to pass through walls.