Longshan Temple is one of Taiwan’s oldest temples. It was built in 1738 during the Ching Dynasty by settlers who came from the Fujian province in mainland China. It is an important place of worship. It is especially famous as a place to worship Guanshiyin Buddha. Although it was built primarily for Buddhists, over the years, Taoist gods and folk deities were introduced into the temple.
The temple is one of the most highly recommended attractions in Taipei. Showcasing the beauty of old Taiwanese architecture, the temple is intricately designed down to the smallest detail. Figures of colorful Chinese dragons are perched on the roof corners. The pillars and beams have exquisite carvings and decorations.
The hall is made up of three parts: front, main, and rear. The entrance leads to the front hall where a large worship area is found. Two dragon pillars made of bronze stand in front of this hall. Next to the worship area is the main hall where the statue of Guanshiyin Buddha sits. This statue seems to serve as the temple’s center of attraction. Eight dragon pillars made of bronze are found in the main hall. Important Chinese verses and poems are also displayed all over the temple.
It is interesting to note that the temple has been rebuilt and renovated several times because it had suffered damages caused by earthquakes and a few incidents of fire. Aside from these, the Longshan Temple was bombed by the Americans in 1945 because it was suspected to be a hiding place for Japanese armaments. The bombing left a large part of the main hall destroyed, along with important temple articles. After World War II, the Taiwanese promptly repaired the temple and restored it to its glory.
You can expect Longshan Temple to be crowded on the first and fifteenth days of the month according to the lunar calendar. On such days, people would flock to the temple for various worship ceremonies. Smoke would continuously rise up from the incense that the worshipers light up as they pray. You will see people in different postures of worship: kneeling down, bowing down on the ground, clasping the hands, holding incense to the forehead, and sometimes even crying during prayer. Visitors are welcome to join the activities in the temple.
Perhaps the temple is most crowded during Chinese New Year, a very important day for Buddhists. They go to the temple not just to pray but also to bring food, which they put around the statues of their gods. They believe that the food would somehow absorb the blessings. After the food has been blessed, the families would gather to eat together the food that they brought. The temple is particularly overflowing with people during Chinese New Year, especially on the first day, which is why it is better to visit on other days so you can fully appreciate the temple’s impressive appearance.
You can reach Longshan Temple by taking the MRT and going down at Longshan Temple station. When you go there, you may also visit other interesting places near the area, such as Snake Alley or Huaxi Street, where you will find shops selling a variety of goods from antiques to Chinese medicines.