Introducing Sōng Shān & Dēngfēng
In Taoism, Sōng Shān is regarded as the central mountain, symbolising earth (tǔ) among the five elements and occupying the axis directly beneath heaven. Despite this Taoist affiliation, the mountains are also home to one of China’s most famous and legendary Zen (Chan) Buddhist temples, the Shàolín Temple. There are two main ranges in the area, the 1494m-high Tàishì Shān (太室山) and the 1512m-high Shàoishì Shān (少室山) whose peaks compose Sōng Shān about 80km west of Zhèngzhōu. Both peaks can be ascended.
At the foot of Tàishì Shān, 12km southeast of the Shàolín Temple and 74km from Zhèngzhōu, sits the squat little town of Dēngfēng. Tatty in parts, it is used by travellers as a base for trips to surrounding sights or exploratory treks into the hills.
The main bus station is in the far east of town. Most hotels and restaurants are strung out on or near Zhongyue Dajie (中岳大街), the main east–west street, and Shaolin Dadao (少林大道), parallel to the south. The Shàolín Temple is a 15-minute bus ride northwest of town.