At the end of our half-day city tour, Jandy and I opted to visit the renowned Taipei 101 Building, once the highest building in the world, with Isha also joining us. After Reto and Gabriella were dropped off at their hotel (they were leaving Taipei in the afternoon), Mr. Pang dropped us off at the Shandao Temple MRT Station where we were to take the MRT to Taipei City Hall Station (free shuttles to Taipei 101 can be taken there).
Next to the MRT station is the elegantly simple Shandao Temple, the largest of Taipei’s Buddhist temples. We made a short visit here first. Established in 1926 by Sera Yoshinari and Tamura Chigaku, two monks from the Japanese Pure Land School, the temple was originally called the “Pure Land School Taipei branch site.” After the defeated Japanese left Taiwan in 1945, the Taipei City government’s Department of Education expropriated the site.
The Shandao Temple originally comprised the Mahavira Hall (Precious Hall of the Great Hero), the Amitabha Hall (Maitreya Hall), the Hall of Observance and the Merit Hall. In 1986, the 9-storey Mercy and Kindness building was constructed over the original site of the Hall of Observance. Its 4th floor houses the Taixu Library while the 5th to 7th floors contain a museum of Buddhist history. The museum’s collections include Buddhist artifacts from the Northern Wei and Song Dynasties to the present. The Amitabha Hall was converted into a 7-storey building in 2002.
We visited the Mahavira Hall, converted into a 10-storey building in 2003. Its structure and feeling is very different from those built by the Taiwanese, the austerity and solemnity being the biggest differences. Its pared down architecture is truly a soothing change from the bright colors and opulence of other temples. Inside its main hall, large enough to accommodate several hundred people, are the Three Treasures Buddhas.
Shandao Temple: Zhongxiao East Rd., Section 1, Zhongzheng District, Taipei, Taiwan. Open Tuesdays-Sundays, 9 AM-5 PM.