Are you up for a tour of spirituality and serenity in Hong Kong? Then you should visit the below-listed temples; two or three of them at least to get a glimpse of the local religious beliefs and different cultures. You can check the flights online by clicking on this link if you are travelling from London to Hong Kong.
Po Lin Monastery
Po Lin Monastery on Lantau Island is famous for the Tian Tan Buddha, a huge bronze statue of Lord Buddha that’s visible from miles away, while you are on the 360 cable ride. The monastery was founded in 1906 by three monks and was initially known as the “The Big Hut” but it was renamed as the Po Lin Monastery in 1924. The main shrine of the monastery houses three bronze statues of the Buddha. Tian Tan Buddha, which was completed in 1993, is an extension of the Po Lin monastery. The statue is a bronze statue standing at a height of 34 meters and it symbolizes the relationship between nature, religion and man. Six other bronze statues surround the Big Buddha statue and they seem to be flowers, incense, fruits and lamps etc. to the Buddha statue. You can also attend the 1-week meditation retreat that takes place in February to learn about Buddhist doctrine and meditation practices.
Ten Thousand Buddhas Monastery
Ten Thousand Buddhas Monastery is a mid-20th century Buddhist temple located in 220 Pai Tau Village of Hong Kong. The monastery is only accessible by climbing 431 steps to the top of a hill. It was built by a Buddhist monk known as Reverend Yuet Kai in 1957 with the help of his Buddhist disciples. This monastery contains about 13000 Buddha statues of different sizes and poses and spreads over an area of 8 hectares. Most of the statues date back to the time of the Tang Dynasty. The attraction itself is the path leading to the monastery because the path is lined with Golden coloured Buddha statues. The monastery is also divided into two levels as the lower level and the upper level. The lower level contains a nine-storey pagoda and the upper level is dedicated to Buddhist and Taoist Buddha statues. But there are no practising monks here and as of now, it is run by Buddhist laymen.
Wong Tai Sin Temple
Wong Tai Sin Temple is an outstanding temple in Hong Kong because it practices three religions- Taoism (Wong Tai Sin), Confucianism (Confucius) and Buddhism (Guanyin). The main religious practice is Taoism as the entire temple complex is dedicated to Wong Tai Sin or the Great Immortal Wong. The most iconic feature here is the traditional Chinese architecture like red pillars, vibrant paper lanterns, memorial archways, Taoist drawings, and beautiful carvings of mythical creatures. The first memorial archways out of the three have the name of the temple while the second and third memorial archways are located near the fortune-telling stalls. Fortune-telling is done through ‘Kau chim’. Incense sticks are lighted, then you have to kneel before the altar, make a wish and shake a bamboo cylinder containing fortune sticks until a stick falls out. This stick is then looked out and the piece of paper having the same number as the stick is explained to tell your fortune.
Man Mo Temple
Man Mo Temple is one of the most visited temples in Hong Kong. It is a temple dedicated for the literature god Man Tai (文帝) / Man Cheong (文昌) and the martial god Mo Tai (武帝) / Kwan Tai (關帝). Therefore, the Man Mo Temple is approached mostly by the students in Hong Kong and it was popular back then in the times of the Ming and Qing dynasties for the same reason. There are many Man Mo Temples in Hong Kong- the largest out of them is the Man Mo Temple, built-in 1847 which is located on 124–126 Hollywood Road, in Sheung Wan. This temple is a part of a temple complex consisting of another temple and a building; Lit Shing Kung Temple and Kung So. Lit Shing Kung Temple is dedicated to all the gods of heaven while the Kung So is the building where the community disputes were settled back in the old days. And if you want to see the temple’s vibrant nature you should consider visiting it in the Chinese New Year Celebrations or on the birth date of Lord Buddha.
Chi Lin Nunnery
Chi Lin Nunnery, set in a beautiful backdrop is a large Buddhist temple complex located in Diamond Hill, Kowloon, Hong Kong. It was founded in 1934 by some Buddhist nuns. The Chi Lin Nunnery’s architecture comes from the Tang Dynasty with beautifully carved statues of Sakyamuni Buddha, the goddess of mercy Guanyin and other bodhisattvas. All the statues in the temple hall are made of either wood, stone, clay or even gold! So, by visiting this temple you have a chance to see real golden Buddha statues. The speciality of this architecture is that the entire temple complex is built with cypress wood without using nails or other metals. These building complexes of the temple are the only buildings in Hong Kong to have such an architectural style. Also, the temple houses some relics of Buddha. The Lotus ponds with bonsai and bougainvillaea flowers add to the beauty of the temple and double the feeling of tranquillity. You can also visit the Nan Lian Garden, near the Chi Lin Nunnery as it also has the same architectural styles as that of the temple complex.
Tin Hau Temple at Lam Tsuen
There are many Tin Hau Temples in Hong Kong, but the one at Lam Tsuen is the most popular with its wishing trees and Well Wishing Festival. Before talking about what wishing trees are let me tell you about the history of this fascinating temple. Tin Hau Temple at Lam Tsuen is dedicated to Tin Hau, the goddess of the sea who is believed to be protecting the fishermen of Hong Kong. So, a wishing tree is a camphor tree identified as a god by the people who celebrate this festival. The Well Wishing festival is associated with the wishing trees where people make wishes by tossing joss paper. They burn the joss paper and light the candles under the wishing tree and hope that their wish will be granted.
Pak Tai Temple
Pak Tai Temple is located in the Cheung Chau island of Hong Kong. It is a Taoist temple dedicated to Pak Tai, the Supreme Emperor of the Northern Heaven. But the story of Pak Tai is fascinating; he was a prince of the Shang Dynasty who fought the Demon King and won the battle. After this incident, he was titled Yuen Tin Sheung Tai and was worshipped by the locals. However, Pak Tai was famed in the Cheung Chau because of its first settlers named Huizhou, Guangzhou and Chaozhou. They were fishermen who worshipped the Pak Tai, and when there was a never-ending plague, Huizhounese had installed a statue of Pak Tai and the plague had disappeared. Therefore, to pay respect and gratitude to Pak Tai the locals constructed the Pak Tai Temple in 1783. The most famous Taoist festival of Hong Kong, the Cheung Chau Bun Festival, is held in this temple and attracts thousands of visitors at the time of the festival. It is held on May or April 8th depending on the times of the Lunar calendar. It is also famous for the traditional architectural styles like the green roof and the location of the temple which was based on a place with good ‘Feng Shui’.
Che Kung Temple
Che Kung Temple which is also known as the Che Kung Miu is a Grade II historic building located in Tai Wai of Hong Kong. There are many Che Kung temples in Hong Kong, and they are dedicated to a general named Che Kung who lived in the times of the Southern Song Dynasty. There are two temple complexes in the modern place; the old temple and the new temple. The old temple which is the original one out of the two was built at the end of the Ming Dynasty and it was last renovated in 2004. But people have criticized the renovations saying that the original look of the temple has faded away with the new additions. These new additions included the green glazed ceramic tiled roofs that add to the beauty of the Che Kung Temple. You will see large crowds here in the time of the Che Kung Festival, the general Che Kung’s birthday and that reason alone, contributed to the construction of the new temple beside it in 1994. At present, the original temple is preserved and is open to the public on festive occasions. The new temple is 8 times bigger than that of the old temple and it contains a giant statue of general Che Kung in the main hall. You can also try turning the fan blade of fortune beside it three times to get a good fortune in the future.