No.63, Zhongzheng Rd., Yuchi Township, Nantou County 555, Taiwan (R.O.C.)
In the old days, there used to be two temples sitting by Sun Moon Lake, but in 1919, the Japanese colonizers decided to construct a hydropower project, which would increase the water level of the lake. Both temples were then relocated and eventually combined in one single temple named Wenwu Temple.
Established in 1938, Wenwu Temple has long been a center of faith among locals. After World War II, the government started to promote Sun Moon Lake as a prime tourist destination in central Taiwan, and Sun Moon Lake Wenwu Temple also underwent a series of renovations to accommodate more visitors. Converted into a Chinese palatial architecture, Wenwu Temple is divided into three different halls. The front halls enshrines the Civil God of Wealth (文財神), the God of Literature (文昌帝君) and more. Situated right in the center of the complex, the main hall venerates the God of War (關聖帝君) and General Yue (岳武穆王). Finally, the rear hall is also known as the Hall of Great Achievements (大成殿), dedicated to Confucius and four saints.
A pair of guardian lions can be found on each side of the plaza in front of the temple, but how to tell their sexes with their almost identical appearances? The superiority of left over right in neo-Confucian practice was all-pervasive in ancient China, even in today’s society. Therefore, the male lion sits on the left side of the door with a ball in his mouth, while the female lion is on the right and accompanied by a lion cub. Lions were first introduced to ancient China from India as tributes to the emperors, and the people at that time didn’t know much about these exotic creatures, which they believed to be spiritual and fond of fire. That explains why guardian lions are usually placed next to an incense burner. It is said that these lions also love to sit, so they can be widely seen sitting by the front gate of a temple as well, protecting the complex and bringing peace to the temple.
In the early years, those who would like to visit Sun Moon Lake Wenwu Temple had to paddle the boat to get to the other side of the lake and climb a long flight of steps to reach the temple. However, upon the completion of the scenic road that encircles Sun Moon Lake, there is no need to climb these steps anymore. Today, there are 366 steps in total and each of them symbolizes a birthday and is carved with the names of celebrities (and cartoon characters) who were born on that day. People started to put their amulets and charms by the steps that correspond to their birthdays as a blessing.
Sitting on the mountaintop at an altitude of 954 meters, Cien Pagoda is 46 meters high, making it 1,000 meters above sea level and the most obvious landmark in Sun Moon Lake. Many visitors reach this highest point of Sun Moon Lake to admire a panoramic view of its surroundings. It is no doubt the best location to appreciate the sheer beauty of Sun Moon Lake, but Wenwu Temple is a great option as well. Climb that flight of stairs all the way to the top, where you will be treated to a marvelous view of the shimmering lake. The delicately carved fountain is another highlight of Wenwu Temple. Many visitors toss a coin into the fountain and make a wish, hoping one day it will come true.