17.4.15

Chi Lin Nunnery and Nan Lian Garden, 志蓮淨苑 及 南蓮園池

3 Feb 2014

Chi Lin Nunnery was first established in 1934 but substantially rebuilt in 1990s.  All buildings are wood frame buildings built without the use of any iron nails. This construction is based on traditional Chinese architectural techniques dating from the Tang Dynasty (AD618-907) that uses special interlocking systems cut into the wood to hold them in place. It covers an area of 33,000 sq. meter (360,000 sq. feet).  The nunnery has managed the adjacent Nan Lian Garden since 2006. This large Buddhist monastic complex contains 15 crafted cedar halls, garden, courtyard, gilded statues and lotus ponds.

 

The complex is arranged around 3 courtyards.  Only 2 are open to the public.  Visitors can start with the Shanmen 'mountain gate' or the Celestial Gate, depends where you get off the public transport. We started from the latter and progressed to the Shanmen and the Nan Lian Garden.

Shanmen
Celestial Kings Hall

Apart from temple art there are many spectacular bonsai and beautiful flowers.  It's not overcrowded.  So, take your time and appreciate the plants and settings. 

If you proceed to the Nan Lian Garden, you see an exhibition of many different rocks, different shapes, giant and normal size.

Opening hours

Nunnery - 9am to 4.30pm daily
Lotus Pond Garden - 7am - 7pm daily
Nan Lian Garden can be accessed through a pedestrian footbridge
Admission: free
Getting there:
MTR Diamond Hill station exit C2, about 8 minutes walk.  Just follow the signage at the station exit.
Buses:
Diamond Hill Public Transport Interchange: 11, 74X, 75X, 82X, 82P, 85C, 85M, 91, 91M, 92, 286M
Near the Nunnery on Fung Tak Road: 3B, 10, 11C, 74X, 91, 92
Bus no. 10 can connect the Nunnery and the Kowloon Walled City Garden.



3.4.15

Ping Shan Heritage Trail, 屏山文物徑

Feb 2014
Ping Shan Heritage Trail - Ching Shu Hin
Ping Shan Heritage Trail was inaugurated on 12 December 1993.  It stretches about 1.6km between Hang Mei Tsuen and Sheung Cheung Wai.  The Trail links up a number of traditional Chinese buildings within short distance of each other.   Visitors can learn about the traditional life in the New Territories.   The visit takes about half a day, just to facilitate your planning.


We went to the Trail from Shatin, via a bus 269D to Tin Shui Wan and got off at Tsui Sing Lau Pagoda 聚星樓 to start the trip.  The hexagonal 3-storey green-brick building is 13 metres in height, built 600 years ago. It was intended as a feng shi structure to ward off evil spirits and prevent flooding.  It is closed on Tuesdays, 1st Jan, Chinese New Year, Christmas and Boxing Day.

There is no public toilet along the way.  You can go to the government complex containing a library nearby first if needed.  The female official at the pagoda will show you the way.

Follow the sign you will arrive at the Shrine of the Earth God 社壇 , who is known as She Kung (protector of villages).  This kind of altar is commonly in traditional Chinese villages. It is usually simple brick structures in which a stone is placed to symbolize the presence of the God.














Nearby is an old well 古井 built more than 200 years ago.  It was once the main source of drinking water for the villages.

Next stop is Sheung Cheung Wai 上璋圍.   It was built about 200 years ago and is the only walled village along the Ping Shan Heritage Trail. It has a symmetrical layout, rows of houses are enclosed by a green-brick wall, with a gatehouse and shrine lying on the central axis. This village is private property.  Visitors can only have an overview outside.


Proceeding forward you will arrive at Yeung Hau Temple 楊侯廟. It is one of the six temples in Yuen Long dedicated to the deity of Hau Wong (Emperor Hau). Hau Wong is the subject of several stories.  But the villagers believe that he was the Marquis Yang Liangjie, a Song dynasty general who gave up his life to protect the last two Song emperors.  He is worshipped for his loyalty and bravery.



The temple is divided into 3 layers housing the statues of Hau Wong 侯王, To Tei 土地 (the Earth God) and Kam Fa 金花娘娘 (patron saint of expectant mothers ) respectively.

Hau Wong, To Tei and Kam Fa at Yeung Hau Temple

Tang Ancestral Hall 鄧氏宗祠 was constructed more than 700 years ago. Nowadays, it is still used regularly as a venue for worship, festivals and ceremonies and clan meeting.  It was declared a monument in December 2001.  The structure is 3-hall and 2 internal courtyards.  It is fronted by two drum terraces with two columns made of granite and an outer column of red sandstone.  The elevated red pathway in the front courtyard suggests that one of the Tang clansmen held a high-ranking positioin in the imperial governent in the past.

Tang Ancestral Hall Front
Tang Ancestral Hall - Red Pathway and middle hall

Yu Kiu Ancestral Hall 愈喬二公祠 is situated next to the Tang Ancestral Hall.  It was constructed in the early 16 century.  The structure is identical to the Tang Ancestral Hall.  Apart from serving as an ancestral hall, it was used as a teaching hall for children of the Ping Shan villeages. The hall was declared a monument in December 2001.

Yu Kiu Ancestral Hall

We then ascended to a small hill to reach the Ping Shan Tan Clan Gallery cum Heritage Trail Visitors Centre.  It was converted from the Old Ping Shan Police Station which was constructed in 1899.  
The colonial look remains.  The visitor centre consisits of 3 buildings.  The main building is a two-storey structure with an embracing arched verandah with observation posts at the roof level. One can have a panoramic view of the villages in Ping Shan and learn about the trail through the exhibition of past photos, items, apparel and documents.
 

Our first stop after descending from the visitor centre was Hung Shing Temple 洪聖宮, built in 1767. Hung Shing is widely worshipped, particularly by the fishmen and people whose livelihoods depend largely on the sea. The Temple is a simple building with two halls separated by an open courtyard, allowing better ventilation and more light. Two door gods guard at the front door.  One of the doors inside has beautiful bird paintings.
 
 





















Next was Ruoxu Study Hall 若虛書室.  It has a history of about 300 years.   Originally it was used as a study hall with dormitory.   It was renovated in the 60s.  Nowadays, it is used by the villages as a resting place.
Nearby are old houses with beautiful roof ridge decorations.   

The next points of interest are: Kun Ting Study Hall  覲廷書室 and Ching Shu Hin 清暑軒.  They are next to each other.  Ching Shu Hin was served as a guest house for prominent visitors and scholars.  It is a L-shaped two-storey building.  Apart from chambers and a lobby it has bathrooms and kitchen, in line with its use as a guesthouse.  It was richly embellished. The whole building was decorated with carved panels, murals, plaster moudlings, patterned grilles and carved brackets to deomonstrate the grandeur and elegance.

 

Kun Ting Study Hall  覲廷書室 was built in 1870.  It provided facilities for both ancestral worship and education.  It is a two-hall building with a single courtyard, made of grey bricks and granite columns. The beautiful ancestral altar, brackets, screen panels, wall paintings, ridge decorations, eaves boards and plaster mouldings inside reflect the high level of craftmenship.