On a beautifully warm Tuesday in March, SWIC member Elaine Campbell led a small group on a tour of Tian Hou Temple and the Left Fort Ruins, both of which are located in Chiwan, next to the port. Their convenient location makes them an ideal cultural destination to show friends and family when they visit.
The temple is a delightful combination of Chinese folk religion, Taoism and Buddhism. There is a beautiful covered entrance to the temple with spectacularly carved 3-D dragon columns. Four brightly coloured giant warrior statues guard the temple entrance from demons. The Main Hall and the Altar to Tian Hou is a visual symphony of colour in the form of offerings, shrines and pictures and unlike many temples we were allowed to freely take photos.
The courtyards contain a bell tour and drum tower, turtle pond, incinerators, an incense pavilion, shrines and a wishing tree. There are also water spouting bowls for you to try your hand at and make sure you have the camera ready if someone masters the perfect technique to create a water spout.
The original temple was built in 1410 under the supervision of Admiral-Eunuch Zheng to honour the Goddess Tian Hou after she saved his fleet of ships in a severe storm. The temple has since been destroyed and rebuilt several times , most recently by the Shenzhen Municipal Government in the 1990’s and repaved and painted in 2011.
After visiting the temple we got back on the bus and with Elaine’s eagle eye (the sign was very faded) and excellent Chinese we manged to get the bus driver to stop down the road at the Left Fort Ruins. After a short walk up the road you can either take the stairs (Nothing like Nanshan Mountain- maybe 150 steps in total) or you can continue on the road which winds around to the fort. Massive tree roots almost appear to hold the fort together and there is a picnic area with marble tables and seating which is well shaded, and has views over the Chiwan Port. If you climb to the top of the fort you will see the original cannon that points out to sea. There is also a statue of Lin Zexu , a former viceroy of the two Guangs and it is likely that his decision to try an eradicate the opium trade was a major factor in causing the opium war.
How to get to Tian Hou Temple:
By Bus – take the #226 from Seaworld
By metro – take the metro to Chiwan stop and walking the remaining 15 minutes.
Entrance fee – 15RMB per person, no discounts for seniors, students or children.
How to get to the Left Fort ruins from the temple:
By Bus – take the #226 from outside the Temple and watch for a very faded sign on the left hand side of Chiwan First Road.