Day 1, stop 1: The Longshan Temple

 

It was an ideal time to arrive to Taipei, before lunch, especially for a first time visitor. There was a whole afternoon ahead to explore the first entries on the Taiwan adventure list.

Before noon, I was at the lobby of the W Taipei. Since it was too early for check-in, I dropped my luggage at the concierge, asked for a copy of the city map and suggestions from the Whatever, Whenever service, and off I went to take the metro. Conveniently, the Taipei City Hall station is just below the hotel.

 

Entering the plaza from MRT exit
The Longshan Temple Station Exit 1 opens up to this

 

Eight stops away from the hotel on the same blue line is Longshan Temple, with the metro station is named after it. It was first on the list. From there, I could weave my way through the other attractions, time permitting, getting closer back to home base.

 

View from the Longshan plaza
The Longshan Temple main entrance seen from the plaza

 

In Taipei’s oldest district, Wanhua, stands the ‘Lungshan Temple of Manka’, one of the largest and oldest temples in Taiwan built in 1738 by the Fujian immigrants during Quing rule, when Taiwan was made part of the Fujian Province. The branch temple takes its name from the 7th century-erected temple in the Fujian province.

 

Detail of main gate of Longshan temple
Main gate’s detail

 

For the Chinese settlers, the Longshan Temple is a house of worship and a place to gather.

From afar, it may seem to look like just another Chinese temple, a pre-dominantly red edifice with tiled roofing with the corners sweeping to the sky. But as you come closer, the intricate detailing starts to unravel, inch by magnificent inch on the roof, on the ceiling, posts and walls.

 

Waterfall at the Longshan Temple
A refreshing corner on the outer courtyard

 

Longshan temple inner court
View of the first gate from the inner court

 

Ceiling detail of Longshan Temple
Intricate details of one of the ceilings

 

Perhaps the most astonishing details that dazzled me most were the diorama detailing on the roof, perhaps relating a story; and the temple’s pillars at the main hall’s exterior and in front of the incense burner, and at the hall fronting it. The posts are wrapped in three-dimensional elements.

 

Rooftop detail of Longshan Temple
Like a diorama on the rooftop

 

Detail of Longshan Temple pillar
Three dimensional detailing on the temple posts

 

Yes, the design of the temple is impressive, truly a unique and exciting representation of Taiwan’s folk faith. It’s not surprising why it has become one of city’s top religious sites to visit.

 

Incense burning in front of the Longshan temple
The incense burner in front of the main temple

 

Altar of the Longshan Temple
The main altar of the Longshan Temple

 

But believe it or not, everything about Longshan is not entirely ancient. The buildings constructed in 1738 are no longer the original structures. Through the years, the temple had its unfortunate share of beatings caused by nature and man.

 

Prayer hall of Longshan temple
The prayer hall fronting the main temple

 

in prayer at the Longshan temple
People praying

 

Candle man in charge at Longshan Temple
I call him the candleman

 

Earthquakes, typhoons and fires may have damaged the temple, but during the Japanese rule it was rebuilt, commencing in 1919 and completed in 1924, with residents of Taipei making effort to renovate and improve the temple and the grounds.

 

Shrines at the Longshan temple
More dieties enshrined along the perimeter of the property

 

Praying woman at the Longshan Temple
Praying woman. Seen at the shrines rear of the temple’s property

 

Shrines at the rear property of the Longshan Temple
One of the shrines at the rear of the main temple. The red & gold posts dominate the interior

 

During World War II, major damage fell upon Longshan when American bombers, during the Raid on Taipei, hit the place due to an accusation the Japanese used the temple as a hiding place for armaments. Rebuilding commenced shortly after the war.

 

Monk at Longshan Temple
A monk & a praying figure

 

It was not until I read up on Longshan Temple history did I find out about its past. Otherwise, I wouldn’t have known that the place of worship was a 20th century manifestation of its ancient forerunner. The temple did look old to me.

Longshan temples gate to the inner courtyard
The gate to the inner grounds of Longshan Temple

 

To get there: Get off at the Longshan Temple Station on the MRT Blue Line. Take Exit 1.

Email me at jinggoysalvador@yahoo.com. For more lifestyle & travel stories, visit ofapplesandlemons.com and jeepneyjinggoy.com

Also published in SunStar Davao newspaper.

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