Chinese New Year is coming, so I’d like to share photos of some of the temples I’ve visited here in Taiwan. Yes, I know this is a bit cheesy; Chinese New Year + temples… go figure. But each of these temples has its own charm that sets a certain temple apart from the others. I’ll give a short explanation about each temple and when will it be the perfect time to visit them
Longshan Temple, Taipei
Longshan Temple was built by Fujian settlers during early 18th century. The temple is located in Wanhua District and it has its own subway station, which makes it super easy to reach. The temple is busy every day and night as it is one of the big temples in Taiwan. Longshan is a mixture of Daoist and Buddhist temple, so you’ll find statues of Buddha, Goddess Guan Yin (Avalokitteshvara), Goddess Mazu, and General Guan Yu here. Longshan is also famous as a temple with a high percentage of wishes granted, that is why the temple is big and always full with pilgrims. It is best to visit Longshan in the afternoon when the air is cool and the surrounding night market starts to open. Usually at 4pm the monks will be chanting loudly at the back chamber, visitors are welcomed to observed closely, but please keep your voice down as a gesture of respect.
Zhi Nan Temple, Taipei
I used to study Mandarin in National Cheng Chi University. It’s located in Muzha district, Taipei. Around 30 minutes walk uphill (or you can take bus 530), you will reach Zhi Nan Temple. For me and my friends at that time Zhi Nan was our favourite spot for our weekly picnic as it was only few minutes away from our campus, and from there you can see the view of Taipei’s south side, including the infamous 101 building. Although beautiful and tranquil, do not visit Zhi Nan with your boyfriend or girlfriend. According to some legends, there is a jealous spirit living in the temple who will curse any couple who come to the temple. But from what I heard the curse does not effect married couple. Gee, talking about discrimination.
Wen Wu Temple, Sun Moon Lake
Wen Wu Temple perhaps is the most beautiful temple I’ve ever visited in Taiwan, reason is because the temple is built on top of a hill overlooking tranquil Sun Moon Lake. I recommend you to walk on the wooden romp from Sun Moon Lake’s information centre all the way up to the temple, you’ll pass a staircase with gilded fence full with golden bells. In many ways I do feel that Wen Wu has the most romantic atmosphere compared from other temples in this island. Wen Wu is beautiful at any season, as long you make sure Sun Moon Lake is not foggy at that time.
Confucius Temple, Taichung
Meet Confucius (Kong Zi / 孔子), one of history’s famous philosophers. Mr. Kong’s, or Dr. Kong or even perhaps Professor Kong if he’s still alive, philosophy is embedded so much within Taiwanese society that he became one of the deities in Daoism. It’s nice to have such peaceful temple in the middle of busy Taichung city. The temple opens every day, but the most interesting time to visit is during examination time, which is in every 6 months. Students form a line, praying to pass their exams. The most interesting sight would be mothers dragging their children behind; the mothers would pray vehemently, whilst their children just stand behind them with a sullen expression. This temple is also known for having the power to grant many of the wishes, just be sure you study first before your exam.
Zhubu Altar, Keelung
This is perhaps Keelung’s most iconic tourist spot. Located in Zhongzheng Park, the Zhubu Altar is a Buddhist temple most famous for its tall Goddess Guan Yin (Avalokitteshvara or Kanzeon Bosatsu) statue that stands for 22.5 metres high. The Goddess is guarded by two equally humongous lions guarding the holy pearls. Few metres away is a statue of Budai or The Laughing Buddha standing cheerfully, surrounded by cherubs. There are many pidgeons in this area, so please do not feed them. Aside from beautiful structure overlooking Keelung city, this is the first temple in Taiwan that I’ve ever seen with a small bom-bom cars arena in front. I guess the gods truly look after those who bump other people.
Mazu Temple, Dajia
Mazu is the most famous deity in Taiwan, they even named an island after her in the east of Taiwan. Mazu is the protector of seafarers, so no wonder her temples are located nearby the sea. The one in Dajia is the second largest Mazu temple in Taiwan. The largest one would be in Tainan, but when I’m writing this I haven’t had the chance to visit the Tainan temple, therefore I cannot put it on the list yet. Next to the temple is a small museum dedicated to preserve the legend of the Goddess. Many pilgrims donated gold for the temple, once there were plenty of gold accumulated from the donation, so the temple’s committee decided to mold the gold into 2 metres tall statue of Mazu, complete with emerald jewelleries. It is not allowed to take photograph of the statue, but truly one musts see it when visiting the temple.
Xingtian Temple, Taipei
Xingtian Temple is a relatively young temple dedicated to General Guan Yu. It is the second famous temple in Taiwan, after Longshan Temple. Xingtian is famous as ‘the temple for businessmen’ as it was built by businessmen guild in Taipei. Xingtian is beautiful during the day, but breathtaking in the evening when lamp lights fall over the carvings on the wall and the incense smoke clearly visible decorating the air.
other temples that I passed but did not know the names