You will find so many interesting places in Chiayi – mountains, night markets, reservoirs, and old trains. One of the most worthwhile visits you can experience is a trip to the Zihyun Temple, which is also called Purple Cloud Rock Temple. It is one of the most visited temples in Chiayi, attracting thousands of tourists every month. It is found in Bantianyan in the township of Fanlu.
The temple is very old; it has been in existence for 300 years and has been a witness to a lot of Chiayi history. It was originally used for the worship of the mercy buddha, but eventually it also became a place for worshiping the other gods that the people brought to the temple. Its age arouses the curiosity of travelers who visit it to see a temple that is three centuries old. It underwent restoration in 1855 and 1920. However, it was destroyed by an earthquake in 1941 and was rebuilt in 1947. In 2004, it went through some restoration work, and now it remains to be one of the must-see structures in Chiayi.
The temple is located on the lower slopes of the Central Mountain Range. You can reach it by taking a bus or by driving on Highway 159. Some people take this road as an alternative route to reach Alishan, as the highway leads to the Alishan Highway. Bantianyan is just an hour away to the east of Chiayi City. The temple’s location affords its visitors a wonderful view of the surrounding plains. The air is a bit cooler in the place but is generally tolerable. If you are visiting Zihyun Temple during the colder months of the year, you should wear a light jacket in case it gets too cold for you.
Some hikers drop by the temple on their way to Bantianyan peak, which rises 640 meters high. Other hikers take a stop at the temple before going to the higher Three Treasures Mountain, which is 977 meters high. Visitors who wish to have a longer stay in the temple can lodge in the rooms. The temple is a great place for a personal retreat or a time of reflection, and having rooms where you can stay overnight or a couple of days is such a convenient offering. You can take quiet walks along nearby trails. It’s a refreshing experience to be surrounded by nature and listen to the sounds of crickets and other insects calling out at night.
The temple’s facade is decorated with lovely carvings, and its walls are adorned with exquisite Koji pottery. The temple has a high front hall. Inside the Zihyun Temple, you will see 250-year-old calligraphy tablets made of wood. You will also find a two-story high bell tower. The main hall and two other rooms are used for worship. You wll see a large yard in front of the temple, and not far from there you will find a colorful garden.
If you get hungry after visiting the Zihyun Temple, you can head to the eatery right across it. The eatery serves meals and local snacks.