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Fruit offerings made to a deity inside Tainan's Cheng Huang Temple. (RM)  <img src='http://www.guidegecko.com/images/spyglass1.png' align='texttop' /> Click for full image
Travel Guide > Asia > Taiwan > Sights & Attractions

Cheng Huang Temple (Tainan)

  
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Taiwan's oldest city-god shrine, Tainan's Cheng Huang Temple (城隍廟) was founded in 1669 and rebuilt in 1777. Before entering, do scan the ornate facade and find the two statuettes of European men positioned on the corners. They're larger and higher up than the other figurines; each crouching on one knee, these men appear to support the roof with their shoulders.

Like other city and town gods around Taiwan, the role of the principal deity here goes beyond protecting the settlement in which he resides. He has jurisdiction over the recently deceased, and so is accorded great respect by those who conscious of their mortality. After stepping inside the temple, look up and you'll see a 2.7m-long, incense-blackened abacus above the main portal. It serves to remind visitors how their honorable deeds and sins are recorded and weighed by the gods, and used to judge them when they die.

The largest of the temple's inscribed boards faces the abacus. Read from right to left, the three characters on it are pronounced er-lai-le (爾來了). This literally means "thou hast come," but the true meaning is closer to "finally you've come to make your peace." The wooden beams here are richly decorated with scenes from Chinese myths.

The city god's birthday is celebrated on the 11th day of the fifth lunar month,. If you attend the parades and rituals, you’ll see bags of rice being distributed to the faithful.

After the main chamber, explore the small museum in the rooms on the left. Among the items on display are votive bells and drums, roof fragments retrieved when the temple was renovated, and an abacus even larger than the one affixed to the shrine's ceiling.

Several deities are worshiped in the rear chamber of the temple. From left to right, you'll find the land god; a trio of goddesses associated with pregnancy and birth (Zhusheng Niangniang is in the middle of the three); Guanyin; the city god's wife; and Dizangwang. For many, the pristine lawn and gazebo behind the temple come as a surprise, as does the impressive size of the joss-money furnace.

Directions

From Tainan TRA Station, leave by the front exit and walk southward along Beimen Road until the intersection with Qingnian Road. Then turn right, and you'll very soon see the temple on the right side of the road.

Type: Monument/Building
Costs: free
Location: Taiwan
Street address: 133, Qingnian Road. West Central District, Tainan City,
Nearest public transport: Tainan TRA Station
Opening hours: Daily 5:30am-9pm
Telephone: +88662240922







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