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Worshipers in Longshan Temple's forecourt. (CF)  <img src='http://www.guidegecko.com/images/spyglass1.png' align='texttop' /> Click for full image
Travel Guide > Asia > Taiwan > Sights & Attractions

Mengjia Longshan Temple

  
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Taipei natives sometimes describe Mengjia Longshan Temple (艋舺龍山寺) as touristy, and in relative terms they're right. Whenever you come to this sizable house of worship - established in 1738 and covering almost 6,000 square meters - you're bound to see Western and Asian visitors. But you can also be sure that these sightseers will be massively outnumbered by pious Buddhists.

Like many other popular temples, Longshan Temple has had a noticeable impact on the local economy. Xiyuan Road (西園路), the thoroughfare immediately west of the shrine, has been dubbed "Buddhist supplies street" because so many businesses here sell religious necessities such as incense sticks. Sales of joss paper have fallen off, however, since Longshan Temple's management committee decided the burning of votive currency would no longer be permitted. The oblation furnace on the east side of the complex is now sealed up.

All five of Taiwan's Longshan temples (the others are in Danshui, Lugang, Tainan and Kaohsiung's Fengshan District) are named for and considered descendants of the Longshan Temple in Anhai, Jinjiang City, Fujian, which itself was founded in 618AD. Mengjia Longshan Temple's website links the establishment of the Wanhua branch to the harsh conditions faced by 18th-century Han pioneers in Taiwan, and even quotes an idiom from that era. Because of malaria and other diseases, of every ten settlers, "just three remain; six are dead, and one has returned home" (三在六亡一回頭). No wonder the survivors hoped for divine support.

On arrival, make your way through the internal courtyard (which is always crowded with tables on which there are offerings of fruit and joss paper) to the central shrine. It's not possible to enter this inner sanctum, or indeed get close to any of the temple's altars. You'll probably have to wait until one of those praying, casting divining blocks or murmuring sutras moves aside before you can get a good look at the Guanyin statue, which is said to have come unscathed through numerous disasters, including a 1945 air raid which left the temple in ruins. Guanyin is flanked on the right is Manjusri Bodhisattva; a symbol of wisdom, he bears a sword with which he cuts off "the root of ignorance that binds sentient beings in the cycle of suffering." On the left, the Amitabha Buddha cradles a lotus.

Directions

From Taipei Main Railway Station, take the MRT's Blue Line westward to Longshan Temple Station, then follow the bilingual signs to the temple. The neighborhood is served by around 25 bus lines, so taking a bus may well be more convenient, if slower.

Type: Monument/Building
Costs: free
Location: Taiwan
Street address: 211, Guangzhou Street, Wanhua District, Taipei City
Nearest public transport: Longshan Temple MRT Station
Opening hours: Daily 6am-10pm
Telephone: +886223025162







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