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The history of the Wen Wu temple

D. “Cultural kindness for generations and centuries”  The history of the Wen Wu temple

The Wen Wu temple stands majestically on the root of the northern mountains of the Sun Moon Lake. The golden halls are powerful and splendid with a tremendous momentum and a graceful style. The temple is of long standing and well established. It has also been operated by worthy persons and people nowadays and supported by many reverent believers, so that it achieves the magnificent layout. Therefore, the course of change and development of the temple is very precious.
This temple was established initially in 1934.
At the beginning, the water area of Sun Moon Lake had two temples, one is “Yi Hua Hall” of the Sun Moon village and another is “Dragon and Phonix temple” of Shueishe village. Gods of these two temples have protected the area and its people and have been consecrated respectfully by residents. Not only the Han people, but also the aboriginal Shao tribe has prayed for the divine help after the invasion of the plague. After the epidemic situation has wiped out, the tribe has begun to offer sacrifice to Gods.
During the Japanese occupation, the water conservancy development of the Sun Moon Lake has been worked out, the Japanese have planned to construct the largest hydroelectric power plant in Asia. In 1934, the water level of Sun Moon Lake has raised about 20 meters, the cultivated lands on the lake edge have become water areas and the residents have been forced to move, the “Yi Hua Hall” and “Dragon and Phonix temple” as well. On purpose not to consecrate the gods separately, management of two temples and local personalities have decided to choose a propitious location and construct a new temple for honoring the gods of these two temples together. Therefore, the chief of Fishpond Village, Mr. Jing Long CHEN, was elected as the Chairman of the Committee, and Mr. Huo Lu HUANG was elected as the Vice Chairman of the Committee. Besides, Mr. Fo Yuan HUANG, Mr. Zhao Lai HUANG, Ms. A Chu HUANG and Mr. Jiang LAI are recommended as Standing Committees, and there were thirty six local personalities designated as committee members. All of them were positive to prepare the temple’s construction.
Building Project Committee has applied to rent the protection forest on the Northern Mountain of the Sun Moon Lake as the temple building site. They have used the southern-style brick, woods and Taiwanese tiles as building materials. The construction was begun in November, 1934 and completed in 1938. The works has taken four years. The building site’s measure of area was 0.5435 hectares and the measure of area of the temple is 288 square feet. The temple consecrates the Confucius, the Wencheng Di (God of Scholar), Guangong (Lord Guan) and other Gods, therefore, it is called “Wen Wu Temple”.
On purpose to adapt to realistic needs and to comply with government’s regulations, the “Wen Wu Temple” has founded the Management Committee in 1958 and has elected Mr. Zheng Liang HUNG as the first Chairman of Committee. The detailed rules and regulations were legislated for temple managing and popularizing. In 1964, the receiving hostel was prepared to be built and its construction was complete in the coming year. The dock and the sky-ladder were also established. Consequently, the convenient surface transport links and land routes make the pilgrims increase day by day.
In 1967, because the amount of pilgrims has increased largely and the hinterland of the temple has become too small and old, therefore, the Management Committee has decided to rebuild the temple. In 1968, the Management Committee has reorganized in juridical person system and founded a board of directors, which named “The Wen Wu Temple of the Sun Moon Lake in Taiwan”. The board of directors took in charge of the temple management and advance of the reconstructive works.
The reconstruction was carried out in August 1969, the head of NanTo county, Mr. Yang Kong LIN, was invited to the ground-braking ceremony. As a tremendous works, manpower and funds were eagerly needed, therefore, the local volunteers were invited to cooperate for this great project and the enthusiastic responses were received. For example, the expertise of wood industry, Mr. Hai SUN, has offered a bulldozer to do the soil preparation. The government has also highly expected the reconstruction and has supported in many ways. In 1971, the main body of the temple has been mostly completed, then the inauguration ceremony was held in January 1972. Thereafter, some fragmentary embellishment works were accomplished successively and the reconstruction was officially completed in 1976. The square measure of the building site is 1.0224 hectares and the measure of area of the temple is 38196 square feet. The total expense of this project was more than 21,500,000. This temple is second to none with its used precious stone material and the exquisite carving skill, no present temple could compare with it. The fresh scene of the temple showed its splendid palaces and its magnificent layout.
During the period of reconstruction, the attention and support of the highest authority of the government was the principal cause of the completion of the works. At the beginning, the President Chiang Kai-Shek has visited the building site personally to show consideration for the construction situation. He has informed: “The breadth should be grand and the temple court should be broad. The constructive style should follow the Northern Dynasty with three halls – Front hall, middle hall and back hall. Then consecrate GuanGong in the martial hall and consecrate the Confucius in the cultural hall.” According to his direction, this tremendous construction should take ten years, however, the President Chiang Kai-Shek has visited the Sun Moon Lake for seven times and inquired for the achieved percentage of scheduled progress and the situation of budget raising. He has also asked to shorten the construction period and make the completion for celebrating the 60th Anniversary of the Founding of the Republic of China. In addition, he has asked the related senior officers to provide supports. The Chairman of Mongolian Province - Mr. Da Chin SHEN, the President of Provincial Assembly – Mr. Dong Ming SHIEH, the Mayor of Taipei City – Yu Shu KAO and the Head of Nantou County – Yang Kong LIN have encouraged and supported hugely. Besides, many local enthusiastic personalities have raised a budget of more than 20,000,000 NTD. Unity of will is an impregnable stronghold. For this reason, the reconstruction projects could be completed on schedule.
In 1987, on purpose to service the increasing pilgrims and visitors, the board of directors has proposed to remodel the side hostel hall as pilgrims receiving hall. This rebuilding works has been completed in 1989 and the hall has been named “Subsidiary Holy Scene Hotel of Wen Wu Temple”, providing board and lodging services. The Holy Scene Hotel stands erect on the bank of Sun Moon Lake, which is an excellent holiday resort.
On 21st September in 1999, a Richter magnitude 7.8 scale earthquake has happened in the Fishpond area. The land and mountain have split out in the twinkling of an eye and the court of Wen Wu Temple has cracked. The front hall has sunk and collapsed, the campanile has toppled down and the structure of middle and back halls were damaged. The subsidiary Holy Scene Hotel has partly collapsed. This was the famous terrified “921 earthquake” in Taiwan.
Although people were disquiet by meeting his unfortunate experience, the board of directors has stayed calm and decided to reconstruct positively. The executors have joined their forces to plan and raise funds. Except loading from the bank, they have also obtained the subsidies from the Sun Moon Lake Scenic Area Administration Tourism Bureau, Nantou County Government and the Taiwan Power Source Development Foundation. The endowments of visitors, believers and friendly temples were also great help. The reconstruction has been finally finished in 2003. a turtle-carried stele with carved inscription was erected in the temple court for appreciating the assistance of reconstruction.
Actually, there were many difficult problems during the period of construction, for example, the integration of new and old materials, the maintenance of the original features, the reinforcement of preparedness against earthquake, the continuation of the original works…etc. But the executors have overcome one by one and strived to reach the acme of perfection. After the reconstruction has been completed, the damages have been eliminated and the magnificent manner has revived. Visitors and pilgrims has increasing largely which symbolized permanence of this temple.
Tracing the source and elaborating on its evaluation, the Wen Wu Temple has been composed by two small temples. It was simple and narrow at the beginning, but regained its large-momentum after the redevelopment. The damages caused by the terrified earthquake has opened and enlightened a new atmosphere and layout for the temple. Things change with the passing of year. Although the appearance has been changed, but the spirit “The culture could bring peace and stability to the country, the martial arts could have the country settled on a firm basis” is consistent. This spirit is admired by believers and respected by civilians. Therefore, the temple shows good faith to sun and moon, links the universe by justice and gets along with the spiritual mountain for centuries.