Lukang, Part 1

14 10 2007

We finished up our visit to Central Taiwan with a trip to nearby Lukang (Lugang), one of Taiwan’s oldest and most historic towns. Our visit was actually on the day that Typhoon Wipha passed by Taiwan, so it was pouring rain much of the day. Luckily, we were still able to see a lot of Lukang in between rain showers. We visited several sites pointed out by our travel guides, including Longshan Temple, Nine Turns Lane, Gentleman’s Alley, Tianhou Temple, and two workshops/shops owned by Living Heritage artists.

Lukang, or “Deer Harbor,” was given this name because long ago herds of deer roamed in the grassy lands next to this natural harbor. Because of this harbor, Lukang became a large and important port for years. At its zenith in the 1600s, Lukang was Taiwan’s second largest town. The harbor began to silt up in the late 1800s, however, effectively marking the end of the town as a commercial center. When the Japanese closed the harbor to large ships in 1895, Lukang largely became a backwater until it was rediscovered as a historic site in the twentieth century.

Lukang Alley

Lukang is, at times, a deceptive tourist attraction. When you first arrive, the town looks like any other small, unremarkable Taiwanese town. In fact, it looks even more rundown than usual. Like many historic areas that are still populated, the actual historic site is dwarfed by the dirty, modern city surrounding it. In addition, not every historic site in Lukang is impressive at first glance. Some are humbling, some are ramshackle, and some require a historical understanding to fully appreciate. Most importantly, in some cases history is not preserved in a building or location, but through artistic tradition and its people.

Lukang is full of two to three hundred year old dilapidated houses surrounded by ugly, more modern cement residences.

An Alley in Lukang

A kindly grandmother agreed to pose for me in this picture. She has lived on 9-turns lane her entire life, and has many grandchildren.

A grandma in Lukang

LONGSHAN TEMPLE

Our first stop in Lukang was Longshan Temple, which is considered the best preserved Qing Dynasty temple and one the most famous Buddhist temples in Taiwan. The origins of the temple shrine can be traced to 1653, but it was moved to its current site in 1786. This historic temple did not disappoint, and was actually above and beyond our expectations.

The Main Entrance to Longshan Temple

Longshan Temple

Unfortunately, much of the temple, including its main hall, was destroyed in the 921 earthquake (September 21, 1999) so visitors will not be able to view the entire temple. Restoration efforts have been underway to repair the damage for many years. About 2/3 of the temple restoration has been completed, so it’s certainly still worth a visit. If you walk down the red brick alley to the right of the entrance of the temple complex, you will come to a side entrance that leads to the Rear Hall of the temple. From there you can walk back towards the middle temple.

The Rear Hall

Longshan Temple

Looking into the Rear Hall

Longshan Temple

Longshan Temple

Longshan Temple

Longshan Temple

A view towards to the Main Hall

Longshan Temple

A view of the back of the Middle Hall

Longshan Temple

Architectural Details

Longshan Temple

Longshan Temple

Dark close-up of roof detail

Longshan Temple

We decided to take a closer look at the middle hall.

Longshan Temple

The Front of the Middle Hall

Longshan Temple

Longshan Temple

Longshan Temple

Dragon Pillars at Longshan Temple

Longshan Temple

Longshan Temple

View from the Front through one of the Side Doors

Longshan Temple

Inside the Middle Hall

Longshan Temple

The Door Guardians

Longshan Temple

Longshan Temple

A View Towards the Rear Hall

Longshan Temple

Next: More on Lukang, including 9-Turns Lane, Gentleman’s Alley, and Living Heritage artists.

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2 responses

25 10 2007
MJ Klein

i have shots of this temple from 2002 and 2005, and you can see how slowly the restoration process is going. this temple is really something to see! i felt like i was on a movie set, and a director would be saying “cut!” any minute 🙂

25 10 2007
travelswithsandy

Longshan Temple is definitely a must-see in Lukang!

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