A religious trip to the Lion’s Head Mountain
By David Hsu, Special to The China Post
January 19, 2006, 12:00 am TWN
There are many scenic spots famous for their religious features. Lion’s Head Mountain (獅頭山) is one of them, and it is also one of the oldest Buddhist sites in Taiwan.
Every year, many visitors come to Lion’s Head Mountain to participate in religious activities. Besides its religious significance, green mountains and colorful scenery make it an attractive wonder. For this reason, the Tourism Bureau groups the Lion’s Head Mountain with two other areas — Mt. Li Scenic Area and Mt. Bagua Scenic Area — as the Tri-Mountain National Scenic Area.
The Lion’s Head Mountain area covers a total of 7,900 hectares and encompasses the Mt. Wuzhi and Nankeng resort systems as well as Lion’s Head Mountain itself.
There are several entrances that can get you to Lion’s Head Mountain. People living in Northern Taiwan can get there via Beipu (北埔), while southern people may get there from Nanzhuang (南庄) or Sanwan (三灣).
Lion’s Head Mountain, with an elevation of about 500 meters, is situated in Hsinchu (新竹) and Miaoli (苗栗) counties. It possesses an accessible mountain forest and contains forest temples with over a hundred years of history, making this area one of Taiwan’s 12 most famous scenic spots. Lion’s Head Mountain gained its name in 1826 when Mr. Li Shenyi of Danshui viewed the mountain and commented on how the peak resembled the head of a lion.
Decades later, the Yuanguang Temple (元光寺) and the Quanhua Temple (勸化堂) were established, becoming the first temples set up in this area.
Over time, more and more temples began to conform to the position and shapes of natural caves, thereby making the mountain one of the most famous Buddhist sites in Taiwan.
Most of the hiking trails in the Lion’s Head Mountain are built with stone ladders, made over at least half century.
Quanhua Temple owns a restaurant providing vegetarian lunches and dinners to visitors. Some dishes are quite different from other restaurants in cities.
It might be a very unique experience for most visitors. Residents around the Lion’s Head Mountain are Hakka, Holo (Taiwanese of southern Fujian origins) and aboriginal.
Therefore, visitors may also have a multi cultural trip to this area.
How to get there
1. By train — Take the West Trunk Line to Hsinchu Station, transfer to the small train of the Neiwan (內灣) Line, get off at Zhudong (竹東) Station, and transfer to the Hsinchu Bus. This will take passengers to every scenic spot in the area.
2. By Bus — The Hsinchu Bus and the Miaoli Bus take passengers to each scenic spot in the area.
1. Lion’s Head Mountain Travel Area: Exit the freeway at the Toufen (頭份) Intersection, travel along County Road 124, connect to Provincial Highway No. 3 and travel northbound past Ermei (峨眉) along No. 41 County Road to destinations.
2. Zhudong and Beipu: Exit the Second Northern Freeway at the Zhulin (竹林) intersection, follow County Road No. 120 toward Zhudong, and past Zhudong town center, follow Provincial Highway No. 3 to Beipu; follow County Road No. 122 to reach Mt. Wuzhi Resort Area.
3. Sanwan, Nanzhuang, Ermei: Exit the freeway at the Toufen Intersection, follow County Road No. 125, connect to Provincial Highway No. 3, travel south to Sanwan and Nanzhuang; go north to reach Ermei.