By TTNews Reporter Kuo, Chia-Lin
TAIPEI, TAIWAN (TTNews) – Speaking of Taiwan’s three largest Matsu temples, Guandu Temple in Beitou, Tianhou Temple in Lukang and Chaotian Temple in Beikang are ranked top three. Founded in 1661, Guandu Temple is the oldest temple in northern Taiwan dedicated to Matsu, the Goddess of Sea. Besides Matsu, the temple is also dedicated to the Buddhist Goddess of Mercy, Emperor Wenchang, the God of Wealth and the Earth God. In the course of Chinese New Year, the birthday of Matsu and Lantern Festival, it always attracts throngs of followers from around the island coming here to pray and worship.
According to legend, the statue of Matsu dedicated in Guandu Temple was introduced by a monk from Shixing. Out of compassion, the monk couldn’t bear to see Matsu have no place to live, so he set up a temporary shelter for the Goddess of Sea and in the meantime worked on building a bigger sanctuary. Over the years, Guandu Temple has undergone numerous times of renovation and extension.
Guandu Temple is rich in history and exquisitely decorated with very rare and skillful handiworks, including the refined carvings of the dragons on the pillars, stone lions sculptures, wall engravings and relief carvings of door gods on the wooden doors. Inside the chamber, more picturesque carvings and paintings are still well-preserved judging by the conditions.
It is worth mentioning that there is a long cave called “Ancient God Cave”. Inside the cave, the sides of the cave are lined by 28 statues of the heavenly emperors. There are a considerable number of believers drawn to the cave praying for a peaceful and prosperous year. Along with the rise of Danshui tourism, there are a number of well-known scenic spots situated in the peripheral area of Guandu Temple worth a visit.