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Huoshan Biyun Temple

火山碧雲寺

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Huoshan Biyun Temple Introduction

Bicyclists face a steep climb up Pillow Mountain to get to Huoshan Biyun Temple, but if you can make it up to the hill, you will be treated to phenomenal views out across the Chianan Plain to the Taiwan Strait. Time your visit for the late afternoon, and you’ll get to see the sunset into the sea. Stay into the night and you can watch the lights of the city blink on and view the moon as it illuminates the landscape.

Huoshan Biyun Temple is located about halfway up Pillow Mountain, not far from Guanziling Hot Spring. Founded in 1798, the temple gets its name—Huoshan means ‘volcano’—from the natural fire-geyser known as Fire and Water Grotto that’s a short walk across the mountain from here. The temple is classed as a grade 3 historic landmark. Visitors would do well to plan on spending two or three hours exploring the temple area along with Fire and Water Grotto before settling in to view the sunset.

Huoshan Biyun is essentially a Buddhist temple, but it also caters to a lot of local folk religious traditions and beliefs. This mixing of religions leaves visitors with an entirely different feeling from Daxian Temple, the large and well-funded Buddhist temple and monastery situated at the foot of the same mountain. Less planned and more organic in its design, Huoshan Biyun Temple has that great mix of kitsch and beautiful antique artwork that makes Taiwanese temples such fantastic places to visit.

When you reach the courtyard area in front of the temple gate, you’ll find that you can go in two directions: up to the temple and down to the park. Visitors who make it down to the Guanyin statue at the base of the park will discover a series of pavilions behind the statue built one behind the other up the slope in a long line that points directly at the peak of the mountain. Although they can’t be seen from this vantage point, the main temple buildings are lined up on the same axis. In Feng Shui terms, this alignment is extremely powerful, particularly on Pillow Mountain with its pronounced geothermal properties that are reminiscent of dragons and Chi Lins.

Back up at the entrance to the temple, visitors are greeted by two blue-painted guardian lions. Unlike your average Taiwan guardian lion, these guys are smiling, and if you look around, you’ll find that this is true of most of the lion statues here.

The temple’s Main Hall is quite old, with gorgeous woodwork. The carpenters, carvers, and painters who built this hall were true artists. Look overhead and you will see a myriad of beautiful details, from the enormous hanging oil lantern to the carved and decorated barrel vault ceiling to the winged warriors holding up the main crossbeam, and more. The hall contains several notable artifacts, including a burner for lighting incense that is fueled by the mountain’s own natural gas reserves.

A second hall to the right features a large effigy of Buddha that blinks, and the hillside behind the Main Hall is studded with a pretty wild array of statues depicting the Eighteen Immortals flanking a huge Guanyin. At the top of the stairs behind them, you’ll find the path to the Fire and Water Grotto. This is an easy and enjoyable 1300 meter walk through the woods and highly recommended, although bug spray may be in order. Before you go, fill up your water bottle from the natural spring that gushes out of the dragon’s mouth in the wall behind the temple. The water has been tested and certified as pure and clean for drinking, and like the rest of the temple, it has great Feng Shui.

 

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  No. 1, Huoshan, Xiancao Vil., Baihe Dist., Tainan City

  台南市白河區仙草里火山1號

  +886 6 6852811