The Taitung Tianhou (Mazu) Temple is located on Zhonghua Road, one of the city’s most prosperous areas. With a history of more than 100 years, the historic temple is a major cultural heritage in Taitung.
The plaque bestowed upon the temple by the Qing Dynasty Emperor Guangxu tells the temple’s historical importance. Commissioned by Admiral Zhang Zhaolian, the temple was built to commemorate the goddess Mazu for her blessings during the period of turmoil that preceded its construction. The Lingquan Well Stele located inside the temple may look like just an ordinary slab of stone but was in-fact carved to commemorate Mazu for bestowing clear spring water to a battalion of soldiers trapped in a besieged fortress nearby. The temple’s left and right halls are dedicated to the Buddhist Goddess of Compassion, King Wen & Wu of the Confucian tradition. Hence, the temple is a prime example of the seamless blending of Taiwanese folk beliefs and the unity of Taoism, Buddhism, and Confucianism.
The structure is built in the traditional Southern Fujian architecture style with wide sloping roofs and exquisitely carved motifs of various gods from the Taiwanese pantheon. A few architectural features of note are the double dragon arches and carvings of classical Taoist imagery. Reflecting the Taiwanese people’s desire for health and happiness, the various carvings throughout the temple are auspicious omens that symbolize good luck and longevity.
Countless festivals are held at the temple annually, with the Mazu festival held on March 23rd of the Lunar Calendar being one of the most important. Other significant festivals held on the temple’s grounds include the Lantern Festival as well as the Bombing of Lord Handan. One can easily get taken in by the cacophony of sounds, colors, and incense smoke during these festivals. If you happen to be around in time to attend, it’s a fabulous opportunity to quietly follow in the footsteps of the worshippers as they pray for blessings, longevity, and protection from evil.