Longshan Temple, Taiwan

We took the train on the main terminal and reached the temple area about 7am. Me and Uraine where still catching up when we got down the station. It was underground so we walk up the stairs and saw the most of the stalls were still close considering its only a few minutes past 7. Uraine said most stores opened later and alive all night with the night market with people shopping and eating around. Then we came up the street and there were plenty of old people hanging around. Some were walking around, sitting by the street and others playing chess on a table by the sidewalk.

We crossed the street to the imposing gate of the temple. I was so happy to see it open because on google it said the hours start at 6pm. There was a maker on the right side of the entrance was a marker with the history of the temple. So here is the story of the the temple.

“This temple originated its name from the ancient Lungshan Temple established in Chin-chiang county of Fukien province in the seventh century.Immigrants from the three counties Chin-chiang, Nan-an and Hui-an of Fukien came to Manka in the beginning of the eighteenth century. As they were pious followers of that ancient Lungshan Temple in their home town, they erected this one as a branch temple at Manka and named it after the root temple when they created a new settlement here in Taipei. Lungshan Temple of today is no longer in the original buildings constructed in 1738. It was rebuilt in 1919 and completed in 1924.”

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Original temple

We went in and the Fore Hall greeted us. We took a couple of pictures such as the waterfalls on the side, and a clock tower on the other. The temple and its buildings were crafted in detailed. But I didn’t get a lot of information about the materials used in building it. The Fore Hall was the entrance where the space between the fore and main hall was for the people to worship. The architecture was beautiful and here is the account of the man who recreated this temple.

“When they rebuilt Lungshan Temple in 1919, they employed Mr. Wang Yi-shun, a master of temple-building in southern Fukien, as the architect. This temple, therefore, has become a masterpiece of Mr. Wang’s in Taiwan. He made it a beautiful temple in large scale decorated with fine stone and wood carvings. The front of the fore hall is covered with stone carvings. The arrangement of beige and dark green granites imported from China and black local andesites immediately gives visitors a beautiful impression of color combination at the first glance, not to mention the nicely carved relief and open works of these stones. The pair of dragon columns standing in front of the central door is cast with bronze. They are the only bronze columns in Taiwan.

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Fore Hall

Two towers respectively for bell and drum are on the east and the west sides of the courtyard between the fore hall and the main hall. They are two-storied buildings with a conic roof in hexagonal shape like a helmet. Under it there skirts a second tier of roof. Each sector of this hexagonal roof in double eaves forms a slope in converse “S” curve. They are the first example of such a roof design introduced into Taiwan. Since the construction was in early part of this century, Mr. Wang already knew something about western architecture. He put small concrete gables on top of the front walls as decorative screens and added Corinthian capitals on some columns as ornaments. These characteristics together make Lungshan Temple a landmark of traditional Chinese architecture of its time in Taiwan.”

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Intricate designs

We walked around and enter the fore hall and were surprise to see plenty of people around the main hall. We didn’t dare go in because there was a ceremony going on. So we didn’t have the time to go in so here is the information according to the website.

“The main hall is in the center of the whole complex with a statue of Kuan-in as the main god of the temple. Kuan-in is enshrined in the center accompanied by another two bodhisattvas, Manjusri at the left and Samantabhadra at the right. The eighteen Arhans are also present on both sides as attendants. When the temple was first established, it was only for the Buddhist deities as the main hall shows.

The rear hall was added only around the end of the eighteenth century after Manka was assigned as an official port for the trade with Chuan-chou and Foochou of Fukien in 1792 by the chinese government. As a result of properous business, the merchant guild “Chuan Chiao” of Manka erected the rear hall to venerate their patron Matzu to pray for protection for their safe sailing to China on business. The rear hall is divided into three parts. The center is for the veneration of Matzu as the Goddess of marine voyage. The left is dedicated to the Gods of literature, or patrons of examinations for civil service in old days. The right is for the Lord Kuan, the God of war.

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Waterfalls

If an observer finds too numerous deities crowding in the rear hall, it is because of transfers. In the early years of this century when the government built new streets to reform the city, some temples were destroyed. The statues of the Gods of water and the city god of Tam-sui county were transferred to Lungshan Temple in the rear hall.”

We didn’t stay that long and we walk out of the main temple back to the fore hall and took some more pictures. As we walk out I can’t help thinking of what makes this particular temple so special. Of course there were more temple all over Taipei but this one was unique. I did some research and learn this.

“It is well known that the statue of Kuan-in in this temple survived the bombing from the allied aircrafts on 8 June, 1945. Lungshan Temple was bombed on that day. The whole main hall and a part of the right annex were burned out during the air raid, but the statue of Kuan-in in the center of the main hall left intact. This is the most famous manifestation of efficacy of Lungshan Temple.

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Clock Tower

Being a masterpiece of traditional Chinese architecture and a well-established Buddhist temple in Taipei, the Lungshan Temple of Manka has become a center of people’s religious life and a heritage of local culture. The government, therefore, assigned it a historical site of second grade on 19 August, 1985, so that it will be preserved for future generations.”

It was a short yet fun visit to the Longshan or Lungshan Temple. There were still plenty of sites to cover so Me and Uraine left the temple grounds and head east for our next destination. Walking under the humid heat of Taipei.

Here is the link for more information:

http://lungshan.org.tw/en/index.php

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