Tuesday, February 19, 2013

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Guandu Temple, Taipei

2/19/2013 Taiwan Explorer

Guandu Temple 關渡宮 (sometimes spelled as Kuantu Temple) is one of the oldest temples in Taipei as well as in Northern Taiwan. It's a partly Buddhist and partly Taoist temple, mainly worshiping Mazu, the goddess of the sea. Legend has it, that worshiping at the current site dates back to 1661, but at that time there wasn't a real temple. In 1712 a Buddhist monk from Fujian came to Taiwan and brought with him a golden statue of Mazu in a mission to convert people. In the next years more and more Han Chinese settled to this area and a need for a proper temple arose. In 1715 the simple place of worship was transformed into a temple made of bricks and a tiled roof: the Guandu Temple was born. However at that time it was known as Lingshan Temple 靈山廟 (Lingshan meaning "Spiritual mountain"). The temple was then repaired and renovated several times during the Qing Dynasty and eventually renamed Guandu Temple (after the area of the same name). After World War II the temple was thoroughly renovated again (all information taken from the temple's brochure).

Our visit to Guandu Temple

My wife and I visited the temple yesterday, it was the last day of the annual Lunar New Year vacation. Unsurprisingly, it was very crowded, a lot of people probably visited to collect the new year's blessings. The smell of incense was very strong and we had to work ourselves through the crowds to find some lovely spots to enjoy. Nevertheless, it was a very unique experience and I would do it again anytime.

Guandu Old Street 關渡老街

Our journey began with a walk from the Guandu MRT Station. There were minibuses to the temple, but we decided to walk. At that time we had no idea, that there is an old street in Guandu, but when I saw some old houses along the way, I had a strong suspicion that it must be one. Sadly, most of the street lost its original charm, a lot of houses are in decay or in ruin, it's pretty sad. There street is also mostly residential, there are no shops and food stalls.

The red lanterns are leading to the temple.

An old house on the left, one of the few remaining.

The street can get really narrow, especially when cars are parked.

The last part of the street very close to the temple.

The temple

It's really amazing how huge this temple is.

Golden plaque with the characters Guan Du Gong.

The incense burner in front of the temple was very popular.

The oven for burning paper money was popular, too.

One of the lower roof tops.

The upper roof top.

The Buddha Cave 古佛洞

This is the entrance to the Buddha Cave.

The tunnel is 80m long and leads to the other side of the hill.

There are gods on every side of the wall, people often stop and say a prayer.

You will see this statue at the end of the tunnel.

This side offers some beautiful views.

This is a view on Bali and the Guandu Bridge.

The temple's upper floors

We decided to go up to the top floor of the temple.

This part offers a nice view of Northern Taipei.

People were praying here, too.

The main hall was huge and had a special atmosphere.

The way the light found its way inside was magical.

The temple garden

There is a nice little garden at the back of the temple.

We saw some beautiful blossoms, spring is nigh.

Some of the cherry trees were donated by Japan.

This is the back side of the Guandu Temple.

A detail of the temple.

Guandu harbor

This is the temple as seen from the Guandu harbor.

The Guandu harbor in the afternoon sun.

In conclusion

The Guandu Temple is definitely one of the most impressive temples in Taipei, perhaps in all of Taiwan. If you visit the city for the first time, I highly recommend you to explore this area as well. Guandu is not only offering beautiful views and an amazing temple, you can also visit the Guandu Nature Park, which is famous for bird watching.

View Taipei Map by MKL in a larger map

Map and useful information


Pinyin: Guāndù gōng
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