Shongshan Temple of Sacred Middle Mountain (Dengfeng, Henan)

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Lying at the foot of Huanggai Peak, at the east foot of Songshan Mountain, Dengfeng, Henan, the Temple of the Sacred Middle Mountain ( 中嶽廟Zhongyue Miao ) was first built in the Qin as the Shrine of Taishi ( 太室祠Taishi Ci ). The Wu Emperor of the Han mounted the mountain and mandated to extend the shrine. It was changed to the present name in the Northern Wei. Experiencing extension many times during the Tang and Song, it was destroyed in fire disaster in the 17th year (1644) of the Chongzhen Era of the Ming and rebuilt in the Qianlong Era of the Qing. The present temple basically preserves the rebuilt style and size of the Qing. Constructed in accordance to the mountain shape in tiers higher and higher from north to south, the temple is 650 meters long and 166 meters wide and occupies 110,000 square meters. The 11 tiers of construction along the central axis are the Gate of Central China, the Pavilion of Long-distance Worship, the Pavilion of Middle Heaven, the Arch Equaling Heaven and Pacifying the Below, the Gate of Lofty Saints, the Gate of the Three Transformations, the Gate of the Highest, the Arch of the Highest Songshan Mountain, the Great Hall of the Sacred Middle Mountain, the Imperial Sleeping Hall and the Tower of Royal Calligraphy. In the east and west lines are such minor courtyards as the Palace of Taiwei, the Palace of the Patriarch, the Palace of the Minor Tower, the Palace of the Divine Prefecture and the Hall of the Dragon King.

The main hall of the temple is the Hall of the Sacred Middle Mountain, or the Hall of the Highest. Nine chambers in width and 5 chambers in depth, the hall occupies 1000 square meters and is the largest one among the halls of the whole temple and among all constructions on the Mountain. A multiple-brimmed construction with yellow glaze tiles on the top, the hall is decorated with the noblest Hexi color paintings in its brims, brackets, girders and ceilings. In the shrine in the hall is the 5-meter high statue of the“Great Imperial High Saint and King of Middle Heaven”, i.e. the Great Emperor of the Sacred Middle Mountain. On his side are attendants and generals governing the hall.

Among the many cultural relics in the temple, some are very famous, such as the ancient pine, iron man statue of the Song Dynasty, the tablet of the map of the Temple of the Sacred Middle Mountain of the Jin Dynasty, the iron lion of the Ming Dynasty and the tablet of the Map of the True Form of the Five Sacred Mountains of the Ming. The temple is listed as a national key protection unit of cultural relics. Every 3rd lunar month and 10th lunar month people hold the Sacred Middle Mountain Temple Fair.

A national key Daoist temple, the Temple of Sacred Middle Mountain now houses the Henan Daoist Association.