In the midst of all the highrise structures, busy environment and great sites in Hong Kong lies the tranquil environment of the Wong Tai Sin Temple. Initially an exclusively Taoist temple in the village of Chuk Yuen in Kowloon, it is believed that the Tempe god Huang Chu-ping can heal the suffering, punish the evil and save the dying. Therefore, it is worshipped by the sick as well as those facing business challenges.
This temple is renowned due to the mythical beliefs attached to the god of the shrine. Whether you are looking for a tranquil environment within the city while still experiencing the wonderful Chinese culture in exhibition or looking for good luck, this is a place you must visit. It is suitable to visit alone, with friends or with family.
Interest Facts About Wong Tai Sin
-It receives more than 10,000 visitors every day.
Although a Taoist temple, it also hosts other major religions in China; Buddhism and Confucianism.
-It is a limited company nowadays but of a charitable nature and among the few institutions allowed not to use the word “limited” as part of their name.
-It is the sole temple that allows formal weddings within the city.
There is a free clinic that provides traditional herbal medicine for the old and those in need.
History Of Wong Tai Sin
It is named after a shepherd boy during the Tsung Dynasty who followed Taoism. After he had attained enlightenment, he became a Chinese deity with a power to heal the sick and set free those in agony. These beliefs of the immortal Wong Tai Sin exist to date. The more reason why many make trips to the temple looking for healing or prosperity in business.
In 1915, two Taoist priests brought the deity’s portrait to a temple in Xiqiao. It was later moved to its present location in Kowloon in 1921 after they received divine guidance from Wong Tai Sin. Initially, the shrine was only accessible to “Pu YI Tan” Taoists. However, in 1934 during the Chinese Lunar Year, the government partly opened it to the masses, but full access was not until 1956.
Culture Of Wong Tang Sin
Architecture: Although the temple is not more than 100 years old, it’s already a heritage site with a style similar to the traditional Chinese temple architecture. It has gorgeous golden roofs decorated in blue, grand red pillars, splendid multi-coloured statues, and yellow latticework. You can visit the different halls, shrines, archways, gardens, and waterways. These are designed strictly in the “Fengshui” principle that includes the five elements of earth (the screen wall), fire (Yuxiang Pavilion), water (the Jade Pool), wood (the Scripture Hall), and metal (the Feiying Platform).
Moreover, see the three commemorative archways featured in the grounds printed in Chinese. Also, don’t miss the splendid and comprehensive nine-dragon wall replicating the one in Beijing.
Halls and Shrines: There are red and golden decorations on the main altar and the statue of Wong Tai Sin with the wood statues telling the tale of how he became a god standing behind the altar. There are also images and scriptures engraved on the walls representing the three major religions in China, Confucianism, Buddhism, and Taoism.
Beside the main altar, there are three gods; Lord Guandi, Bodhisattva, and Father Luzu which are worshipped in their three independent altars. You’ll also get to see the diverse kinds of artistry on offer as these idols are made of different materials; wood, fibreglass, and ceramic.
For the high-tech experience, visit the Tai Sui Yuenchen Hall dedicated to the goddess of Great Dipper and the Yuenchen. Recently constructed and opened in 2011, the worship here is done electronically. Hence, no incense sticks are burned and instead they use artificial smoke puffs from an electronic statue as a symbol of acceptance of an offer.
Marble and rare gemstone adorn the walls from floor to ceiling. Moreover, the ceiling has a spectacular dome shape that digitally replicates the Hong Kong sky and changing as per the season. In addition to the $100 charged for entrance, a further $300 is charged for worshippers to drop their written prayers into a wooden box.
Traditions: Worshippers flock the temple, especially the main altar, to burn incense sticks hoping for an answer to their difficulties. Other worshippers pursue fortunes on issues ranging from what business decision to make, the most auspicious date for a wedding to what race to bet on.
Observe or participate in the worshipper’s practices on display as they jiggle cylinder made of bamboo, pick one that falls out, match it to a piece of paper containing a similar number. You can then pay an interpreter to give the meaning of whatever is written on the paper.
Remember the interpreters are paid depending on their reputation for making an accurate prediction and how deep the explanation goes. Most recently, the temple has also developed an app where worshippers can get a paperless information to be interpreted.
Gardens: The good wish garden is primarily a typical Chinese garden with its architectural features mimicking those of the Beijing Summer Garden. It offers a serene environment in the heart of the busy Hong Kong atmosphere with streams, ponds, pavilions, pagodas, bridges, rocks. The gardens are linked by a long corridor adding to its appeal.
Take a walk in the garden to appreciate the amazing nature on display as well as statues and stone inscriptions found all over.
Tips For Visiting Wong Tai Sin
- The temple is always almost full. I would advise you visit early in the morning or late in the afternoon after the huge crowds subside.
- The busiest time is during the Chinese Lunar Year (Jan1-15) and Wong Tai Sin’s birthday where throngs of devotees from Guangdong come in buses.
Flash photography is prohibited, but video recording is allowed.
- Make a small donation the entrance and not the monks standing outside.
- Due to the constant incense burning stay away if you experience any kind of allergy or asthma.