Lingguang Temple is nestled deep in the mountains in Guoshing Township. This Buddhist temple was constructed entirely from local materials. Its walls and pillars were hewn from large stone blocks quarried in the nearby mountains. Worshippers labored to cut and lay the stones to create the foundation and walls, an example of the way in which religion can be a driving force for humanity. Hakka influences can be seen in the local culture, and these influences extend to the structure of the temple. Every year on Buddha’s birthday, worshippers gather at the temple to celebrate, maintaining religious tradition and preserving deep-rooted Hakka customs and cultural traits. The large boulder just behind the temple was a product of the Richter 7.3 1999 earthquake, whose epicenter was in the nearby town of Jiji.
Lingguang Temple is located near the summit of Kandou Mountain in Nantou County’s Guoxing Township. According to local legend, a resident named Liu Jie-shen built a thatched hut in 1924 dedicated to Guanyin as a place to pray for good harvests. In 1926, the structure was rebuilt as Lingshan Temple. In 1949, the temple was once again rebuilt. As it was difficult to transport building materials to the top of the mountain, residents of four local villages quarried and laid stone from the nearby mountain to form the foundation and walls of the temple. Construction was completed in 1953, and the temple was renamed Lingguang Temple. The temple has weathered numerous typhoons and earthquakes. During the 1999 earthquake, a large boulder was dislodged and tumbled down the mountain, but trees stopped its descent and the temple emerged unscathed. Worshippers gather at the temple every year on Buddha’s Birthday to honor the founder of Buddhism.
When Lingguang Temple was rebuilt in 1949, local residents, who lived in a remote area with few access roads wide enough to transport building materials and who had limited financial resources, decided to rebuild the temple using stone quarried from the mountain. They selected the stone based on its grain, and hand cut it into the desired size and shape using only hand tools such as chisels and mallets that they had at home. The resulting building stone was then laid to form the temple’s foundation and walls. Chisel marks can still be seen on the surfaces of the blocks. As the temple was solidly built of stone, it suffered no damage during the 1999 earthquake.
2The “Buddha Boulder”
The epicenter of the 1999 earthquake was near Lingguang Temple. During the earthquake, a large boulder broke off from Kandou Mountain’s summit and rolled down towards the temple. Fortunately, longan trees and rocks behind the temple blocked its descent and prevented it from smashing directly into the building. Later on, the Chinese character for “Buddha” was chiseled into the face of the boulder. The boulder is now displayed behind the main hall along with an explanatory plaque.
3A Mountain Backdrop
The backdrop of Lingguang Temple is Kandou Mountain, the highest peak in Dashi Village, in Nantou’s Guoxing Township. The temple has excellent views of the mountains in the distance. As it is located eight hundred meters above sea level, there is a refreshing breeze during the summer months. The temple does not receive many worshippers or visitors due to its relative isolation. As a result, it is always serene and tranquil. Just behind Kandou Mountain is Jiu Fen Er Mountain, which was the epicenter of the 1999 temblor.
Guoxing Lingguang Temple is open year-round, although only two celebrations are held during the year. The two celebrations are the birthday of the Gautama Buddha on the 8th day of the fourth lunar month and the birthday of the Amitabha Buddha on the 17th day of the eleventh lunar month. As the temple is located in a remote area and supplies are not easily obtained, visitors are asked to call ahead so that temple officials can make preparations. The temple’s phone number is (049) 245-1389.