Monday, January 28, 2013

2012 HK Trip - Wong Tai Sin Temple (黃大仙祠) Finale

Location: Wong Tai Sin (黃大仙), S.A.R. Hong Kong, China

The final leg of my walk brought me back to where I began, the gates guarding the main temple complex. A further look before I left for my next destination revealed details which I did not noticed when I first marveled at the place. 

The gates guarding the main temple were as beautifully carved as any other areas of the temple, with intrinsic details and topped with the familiar upturned eave which decorated Chinese temples everywhere

These dragons coiling around the columns on both sides of the temple cloister were another marvel of carvings found in Chinese temples. 

Right under the gates were this array of bronze sculptures created to represent the ancient Chinese vessels called "ding" (鼎). Although I could not fathom their purposes, the vessels' significance could not be undermined, with more intrinsic carvings on the huge sculptures to match those in the surroundings.

If one were to visit a place not for religious purposes but for cultural studies, the temple of Wong Tai Sin offered enough for such a person. From the intrinsic carvings of dragons on columns along the sides of the temple cloister, to those dark bronze castings of drinking vessels called "ding" (鼎), these all told a tale of the Chinese culture of animistic and polytheism worship before the Mao's revolution wiped off such history from the face of China. The original worship was only preserved to a certain extent in overseas Chinese populations before it started to mix with local practice to form their own evolved form.

The square in front of the gates was quite spacious, but it still barely manage to contain the enormous bulk of visitors. Notice that the intrinsic carvings were not limited to the gates themselves, but also to the huge continuous piece of sloped decoration leading up to the center gate.

The last attraction of the temple, which were most expected but still most appropriate to be in such a cultural and spiritual area, was the array of 12 animals of the Chinese zodiac. Each of them were cast into their most jovial mood and welcoming smile, evident even through the dark bronze which they took form in.

With the array of Chinese zodiac animals displayed in the spacious foyer, most folks could not resist the temptation to look for their own zodiac and take a photo with it. And it as so crowded that it took some time before I could snap a photo showing the castings themselves.

Mouse: Oh my, what a crowd!

Rabbit: Gotta finish studying before exam...
Tiger: You should have studied last night...
Ox: No matter, I will stand guard here. If rabbit failed in exam, he shall meet my heavy sword!

Goat: Calm down everyone, only handsome animals here, nothing to scream about.
Horse: With my handsome face on display, there is every reason to scream for me!
Snake: Excuse me, good sir! How did I get a pair of hands and legs?

Hound: Whacha lookin at!?
Cock: Looking at your face, obviously.
Monkey: Eeeep eeep eeeeeeeepppppp!!!!!

Pig: This is no weather for a pig to stand outside. Gotta open my umbrella...

And so, with the tour around Wong Tai Sin temple coming to an end, we took the MTR to our next stop, another garden of tranquility which most guide books never mentioned. This garden was left out of most travelers' route, and may not impress most except for the ones who looked for cultural wonders int heir travels. The garden is known as Nan Lian Gardens.

Map taken from SikSikYuen's website. The area marked #7 is the foyer where the 12 Chinese zodiacs resided.

More reading is available here for the interested reader:

Environment:         A huge temple complex in the middle of the city
Suitable for:           Pray for your wish for it to be granted, since that is what it is famous for.

Opening Hours:      (Temple) Daily 7.00a.m. - 5.30p.m.

                                (Office) Daily 8.00a.m. - 5.30p.m.
                                (Good Wish Garden) Daily 9.00a.m. - 4.30p.m.

Address:                 2, Chuk Yuen Village, Wong Tai Sin, Kowloon
Getting there:        Take the MTR to Wong Tai Sin station and exit. Follow the signs to the temple.
Additional info:      Sik Sik Yuen website

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