It was the last day of my HongKong tour. I had to leave the Hotel early so that I could reach the Airport on time but still had a comfortably placed morning and had nothing to do. If you have read my earlier post on HongKong, you would know by now how skeptical I was about using the MTR and in 3 days here, I was trying to explore the city unplanned trusting the MTR and navigation system.
I am not an atheist but I am a believer of prayers. I have always believed that temples form an important part of any society as well as a city’s landscape. It’s the place which is built with devotion and there is a certain positivity which I feel whenever I enter temples. When I had planned my HongKong trip, visit to temples was not in the itinerary but a chance of some good photographs and also to have a different experience of the city was welcome. My journey started with Wong Tai Sin temple HongKong.
How to go to Wong Tai Sin temple
If I can go, anyone can go. Wong Tai Sin temple is just at the exit of Wong Tai Sin MTR station at the B2 exit. The moment one steps out of the station and climbs the stairs, the large entrance of Wong Tai sin temple can be seen.
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Named after a healer Wong Tai Sin, this is perhaps the most sacred place for prayers and wishes getting fulfilled in HongKong. They say, here you get what you wish for. This place was earlier a Herbal medicine shop owned by Leung Renyan during early 1900 and people used to come for medicines and pray to Wong Tai Sin for curing of ailments. Over the years,visitors increased and although few times there have been discussions on taking this place for Public housing development, it’s the shrine status which did not allow any change to this place. The current structure was built in 1973 and considered as Grade 1 historic building.
Inside the temple
As you enter through the main gate the huge archway, there is a brass dragon, there are statues of warriors at the first landing of the stairs and then climbing few more stairs will lead to the main prayer arena. The Wong Tai Sin temple has got typical chinese lanterns on the courtyard surrounding which are the prayer halls and traditional chinese Grand red pillars, multicoloured carvings and incense sticks all around. The method of prayer is to light the incense stick, kneel down and pray and make a wish. It is often said that wishes do come true here. Did I wish anything? Yes of course.
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This is one of the primary reasons why people come here. In this practice, you will see lots of people shaking a bamboo container with bamboo sticks inside. One keeps on shaking till one stick falls out and that’s taken to the fortune tellers who are present in the temple and for a small fee, they will decipher and predict the future. Each bamboo stick has a number and there is a fortune card which has the same number. The soothsayer deciphers that.
Also known as Sik Sik yuen, Wong Tai Sin also has Three saint hall, the nine dragon wall, a replica of Nine dragon wall in Beijing and the Good wish garden, a replica of Beijings Summer place. There is no Entry fee for the place and it is open from 7.00 in the morning till 17.30 in the evening
Man Mo temple
The Man Mao temple was at the other part of HongKong. So I had to rush for this. This place is situated near the Central railway station. On a Sunday morning, around 10 when I reached the exit, I just had to ask for Man Mo temple. On the way there are several large shops around various dried fish and dried fish products and after a walk of around 5 mins, one needs to take the flight of 30 to 40 stairs to reach Hollywood Street. There are other ways also to reach the temple as the temple is situated on the main road.
History of Man Mo temple HongKong
‘Man’ means civil and ‘Mo’ means war in literal terms. This is a temple dedicated two Gods, King Man and Holy King Kwan. This temple was built in the 27th year of Emperor Daoguang, Qing dynasty (1847 AD). The 19th century sedan chairs with intricate carving, here which were used to carry the statues of the Gods ‘Man’ and ‘Mo’ are placed inside the temple are facscinating. Each year, Autumn Sacrificial rites are performed to pay homage to the God for the prosperity of HongKong.
The plaque of Shen Wei Pu You by King emperor Guangxi in 1879 was gifted for appreciation to the donation raised to One Hundred sixty thousand to the severe drought in Mainland China from 1876 to 1878. Man Mo temple is one of oldest temples of Hong Kong and declared as legal relic in 2010.
Inside the Man Mo temple
As like any other temple, there is this silence with murmurs of prayers and people performing the religious rites around. The fragrance of the incense sticks, people with closed eyes and folded hands offering prayers for the wishes to get fulfilled; the environment is of calm and peace. The God of literature ‘Man’ holding the writing brush and God of Warrior ‘Mo’ holding the sword is a captivating watch. The lower level front hall has got spiral incense sticks hanging from air and is a visual delight. There is no entry fee to the temple and it remains open from 8.00 in the morning 1800 hours in the evening.
As it was the last day in HongKong, I had to rush and perhaps this was the perfect ending to the tour. Temples and any religious place plays a very important role in any civilization and has been an inseparable part of history. History changes, dynasty changes, war happens, new rulers come and some demolish the established religious structures while some build new ones but somehow, every religious place makes a mark in civilisation.
Be it Bishnupur in West bengal or Qutub Minar in Delhi or any other place of historical place, temples or religious places have always been a part of the history of mankind.
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