Taiwan – Sun Moon Lake Ci-En Pagoda, Xuanguang and Wenwu Temple

Xuanguang Pier at Sun Moon Lake

This was our last day in Sun Moon Lake and we had to catch the afternoon HSR back to Taipei. Our plan for this day was simple – try to explore as much of Sun Moon Lake as possible on bus. Sounds rather crazy but we did manage to visit the 3 main attractions. Using the map below as a reference, we took the first bus (9am) to the furthest end at Xuanguang temple (玄光寺) and then made our way back (slowly) to the Visitor’s Centre. The bus goes in clockwise direction from the Visitor Centre (水社遊客中心) to 玄光寺, where it will make a U-turn back. You can refer to this post for more information on the bus route and schedule.

Map of Sun Moon Lake

Have you heard / read about the famous novel “Journey to the West” (西遊記)? That novel was inspired by the real-life story of Master Xuanzang (玄奘大師), who spent an amazing seventeen year journey from China to India, with the aim of bringing back the original holy Buddhist scriptures. He accomplished his goal and successfully translated more than 600 Buddhist scriptures into Chinese; making a significant contribution to Buddhism in China. Xuanguang temple is the place where Master Xuanzang’s  bone piece was placed and enshrined.

Group photo at THE landmark

There are actually many stones with the carving “日月潭” throughout Sun Moon Lake. So why is it so “important” to take a photo at this particular one which is located right outside Xuanguang Temple? The reason, as I was told, is quite lame … Some years back, some tourists actually fought while waiting to take a photo here and thus it became famous and also a must-do when you are here. True enough, this is the only stone carving in Sun Moon Lake where you have to queue to take a photo. 😉

Stone sculpture at Xuanguang Temple

The temple itself is not very grand but even if you are not a buddhist, Xuanguang temple is still worth a visit for the bird’s eye view of the lake and also for the best tea leaves egg (茶葉蛋) in Taiwan – 阿嬤香菇茶葉蛋 (Grandma’s Tea Leaves Egg). The stall is located just off the pier, at the foot of the temple. If I were to compare the size of the crowd at the temple and this stall, I can’t help it but to wonder if people come here for pilgrimage or the eggs. 😉

Ok, jokes aside. I really like the eggs and it was definitely worth the queue. Its aroma, its taste is ***umh!!!*** … you just got to try it out yourself.


Our next stop was Ci-En Pagoda (慈恩塔) – A 46 metres tall pagoda built by Chiang Kai-shek in memory of his mother in 1971. It takes a bit of walking uphill to reach the pagoda but it’s worth it. There are 2 sections. The first section is an uphill slope which we conquered in less than 10 minutes. Easy peasy.

Xuanzang Temple. Stop here and walk in the direction of Xuanguang Temple to get to Ci-En Pagoda

Start of the path to Ci-En Pagoda

After the slope, you will come to a flight of stairs. This is the second section and it’s tougher than the first. There are some benches here by the way. My uncle and aunty decided to take a rest here while we continued with our hike.

Beginning of the 570m stairs to Ci-En Pagoda

Have a break, take a photo

Finally, we reached the top

Making our way down

Our next stop – Wenwu Temple (文武廟). In Chinese, 文武 means learned and valiant. Hence this temple is devoted to the four Gods / Saints; namely First Ancestor Kaiji and the God of Literature, Guan Gong (the God of War), Yue Fei (the warrior-god) and Confucius. Besides the various halls where followers can give their offerings to the Gods, there is also an interesting flight of stairs that lead all the way to the pier below. There are a total of 366 steps covering the 150-meter distance, and each step is engraved with information related to the 24 solar periods. Due to time constraint, we didn’t try these steps. But I believe it should be an interesting trail.

Wenwu Temple

Incense

After Wenwu temple, we had to rush back to catch the HSR back to Taipei, where we had a sumptuous dinner at Ding Tai Fung (鼎泰豐), which is my next post. 😉

Useful Information – 阿嬤香菇茶葉蛋 (Grandma’s Tea Leaves Egg):

Opening Hours:

  • 05:00-21:00 daily (Disclaimer: I didn’t verify if it really opens at 5am … )

Directions:

  • If you are going by ferry, stop at Xuanguang Pier and there is only one stall at the entrance of the pier, foot of the stairways to Xuanguang temple.
  • If you are going by bus, stop at Xuangang bus stop and take the flight of stairs down to the pier.

Useful Information – 慈恩塔 (Ci-en Pagoda):

Opening Hours:

  • 09:00 – 18:00 hrs daily

Directions:

  • Stop at Xuanzang bus stop and walk a short distance in the direction of Xuanguang temple. You will see a sign on the left that points to a path to Ci-En Pagoda. Follow that path all the way to the pagoda.

Useful Information – 文武廟 (Wen Wu Temple):

Opening Hours:

  • 24 hours (Use the side entrance after 20:00hrs)

Directions:

  • Stop at Wenwu Temple bus stop

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