No.338, Zhongzheng Rd., Yuchi Township, Nantou County 555, Taiwan (R.O.C.)
Commonly regarded by Chinese literary criticism to be the greatest and most influential of pre-modern Chinese fiction, “Journey to the West,” “Romance of the Three Kingdoms,” "Water Margin” and “Dream of the Red Chamber” are known to be the Four Great Classical Novels of Chinese literature. Having been adapted to many movies, “Journey to the West” is the most popular one among the four novels. The story depicts a legendary pilgrimage of the Buddhist monk with his three disciples to obtain Buddhist sacred texts in Central Asia and India. These disciples are Sun Wukong (孫悟空), Zhu Bajie (豬八戒) and Sha Wujing (沙悟淨). They pass through many trials and much suffering during the journey as many monsters want to have a taste of the flesh of Xuanzang in order to achieve immortality. Eventually, they walk through all the crisis and return to China safe and sound. Even the famous Japanese manga series Dragon Ball (七龍珠) was inspired by this classical Chinese novel. Both stories are fictional, but there did exist a Buddhist monk named Xuanzang (玄奘) in the Tang dynasty.
Born in 600, Xuanzang was a prestigious monk who devoted his whole life to promoting Buddhist teachings. However, many different interpretations provided by various schools confused him, so he decided to travel to the Western Regions, bring back the original sacred texts and translate them himself. He spent twenty years to complete this journey and his contributions to the Buddhist community were innumerable.
During the World War II, the Japanese army brought the relics of Xuanzang from Nanjing to Japan. In 1955, the fourth abbot of Paochueh Temple Master Zongxin (宗心法師) managed to bring his relics back to Taiwan and to keep them in Xuanguang Temple (玄光寺) in Sun Moon Lake. The relics were later relocated to Xuanzang Temple (玄奘寺) upon its completion in 1965.
Even without the relics, Xuanguang Temple is still one of must-go places for many visitors to Sun Moon Lake and further draws in hordes of street performers. The famous tea egg stall in front of the temple that has a super-yummilicious smell is very worth a try. Having been around for more than 50 years, the old granny who owns the stall uses the local Assam tea to make the marinade with a natural hint of shiitake mushrooms. She can sell thousands of these tea eggs each day, making this inconspicuous stall a major landmark in Sun Moon Lake.