Chih Nan Temple (指南宮), one of Maokong Gondola’s major sights, is a 19th century Taoist temple located up one of the Maokong mountains. The temple is dedicated to a scholar of the Tang period called Lu Tung-pin, who became one of the most significant Daoist masters in the region. It’s worth stopping here to admire the stunning views over Taipei and to experience such as a highly revered temple. Note that the temple is sometimes anglicized as Zhinan Temple.
Actually one of Taipei’s most famous temples, Chih Nan Temple is well known for its 1000 or so stone steps, which has led to the place being called the ‘Temple of a Thousand Steps’. Those coming from the gondola stop won’t have to climb many of these, but if you head down one or two flights of stairs you’ll get some amazing Instagram photos from below. Flanked by rows of huge stone lanterns and seasonal decorations, the imposing temple gate above is rather breathtaking.
Give yourself at least an hour or so to explore the temple complex, as well as the nearby connected temples, with their highly detailed carvings and decorations. A highlight inside the main chapel is the grand statue of Lü Dongbin, one of the founders of this sect of Taoism. There is also a mysteriously named ‘Dream Interpretation Room’, where those with troubled souls can spend the night, hoping to find answers in their dreams. Nearby temples include various ornate statues of deities, emperors and philosophers, so the area will also be of interest to history buffs as well as those that would enjoy the sights and sounds of a Taoist temple.
How to get there
The nearest station is Zhinan Temple Station on the Maokong Gondola. From the lower Maokong Taipei Zoo Station, you just need to take the gondola a few stops (6 mins, NT$40). Zhinan Temple Station is also only one stop from Maokong Station (2 mins, NT$20).
Hours and fees
Official website: chih-nan-temple.org