Even if your wishes don’t come true, visiting the Zhulin Shan Guanyin Temple (竹林山觀音寺) in New Taipei City, Taiwan is still an inexpensive day trip that you will remember forever. I hope that reading about my trip to this magnificent temple is as much fun as I had going there.
Where: The Zhulin Shan Guanyin Temple (竹林山觀音寺) is located at No. 325號, Zhúlín Rd, Linkou District, New Taipei City, Taiwan 244 (台北縣林口鄉竹林路325號).
Did you know?
Guanyin is a Buddhist Bodhisattva and one of the most worshipped gods in Taiwan.
When: April 7, 2013. The weather on this day was very comfortable for a stroll around the temple gardens.
From Taoyuan: We drove the 20km from Taoyuan City to the temple, which took just 30 minutes along the expressway. Buses also depart from Taoyuan Train Station on a more direct route; however you must transfer buses along the way. From Taoyuan Train Station take the number 5116 towards Songshan Airport (松山機場) and get off at Wenhua 2nd Rd (文化二路). Cross the street and take the 1211 towards the City Transfer Station (市府轉運站) and get off at Touhu Intersection (頭湖路口). From here it’s just a 9 minute walk to the temple. Due to the additional transfers and waiting time, travelling by bus could take over an hour.
From Taipei: Driving the 17km to the temple from Taipei Main Station is a bit tricky and requires some good map reading skills or a reliable car navigation system. The better option is to take the number 1210 bus from the Taipei Bus Station on Zhongxiao Rd (忠孝路) towards the Zhulin Shan Guanyin Temple (竹林山觀音寺) and get off at the last stop. The bus journey takes a mere half an hour and ensures that you will get to your intended destination.
On walking to the temple it feels like it will be no different from others I’ve been too: cars stuck in traffic, food stalls lining the street, and a ton of people strolling towards the temple entrance. However, as soon as more of the building comes into sight, you will begin to realize the magnitude and beauty of this wonderful temple. The first thing that strikes you is the intricate artwork on every part of the exterior. Upon entering the temple, I was mesmerized by the sheer size of the interior, with the whole floor space covered by rows of tables to leave offerings. The atmosphere inside is lively with the sounds of drums and people talking, while worshipers hustle to and fro to complete their prayers.
Inside one of the rooms is a wooden miniature replica of the entire temple, complete with all the extraordinary sculptures circling the outside walls and covering the roof. Because you have to take a few steps back in order to capture the whole replica, it is difficult not to include another person in your photos. So much for a miniature!
Getting to the upper floor is also an experience. The lighting has been dimmed to show off the amazing artwork on the tiles. Unfortunately, it was hard to get a good full shot of the tiles due to the bright emergency exit sign slap bang in the middle of them. Upstairs is an inspiring sight. Apart from the incredible sculptures on the roof, I was very interested in the structure in the middle of the temple. It had windows but there did not seem to be any way to get to the middle structure. Perhaps someone lives there with no intention to leave.
We spent some time on the upper level switching our gaze from the scene below to look above and appreciate the superb colorful roof carvings. Then we noticed that the little lion statues lining the balcony had $10 coins in the mouths. Who knows if they are removed every night or left there permanently? Maybe the lion eats one when the wish comes true? In either case, I made my wish and put my $10. Unfortunately, my wish for $1,000,000 to come out the lion’s rear end didn’t come to fruition so we left to go outside.
After a quick stop at the toilet (kept very clean), we crossed the bridge over to the temple park, which was purposely built to complement the temple. It’s a very peaceful park where you can simply relax and watch the fish and turtles swim by in the little river than runs through it.
Why not have a spot of lunch at the temple and eat it in the park? The street vendors sell the usual fare including: meat buns, corn, sausages, etc. Take care when buying food as the street is very narrow and many impatient car and tour bus drivers are all fighting for position on the road.
I encourage anyone visiting or living in Taiwan to visit the Zhulin Shan Guanyin Temple in New Taipei City. With plenty to see and do, this cheap and spiritual day out will live long in your memory as one the best places you will go to in Taiwan.