I’ve previously written about what I like to call neglected spaces, those places that are not fully abandoned but rarely see any use. An interesting example of such a place is the Putian Temple which sits on a hill overlooking Hsinchu City. The temple itself is in use and seems to have a fair amount of visitors. However, on the hillside below it it is a semi-abandoned park full of weird statues, that becomes more overgrown and dilapidated the further you get from the main building. Actually the temple itself is pretty weird as well. Instead of trying (and failing) do describe it, I think it’s time for some photos.
Inside the temple and on the main temple plaza you’ll see the typical stuff you have in most temples: statues of gods, incense burners, little prayer lights, even a couple of fortune telling vending machines. Off to the side however, there are a few smaller shrines that sort of look like they don’t belong. In this area there are also a couple of odd looking statues.
There is this fountain with a statue of a god that looks like it belongs in Thailand rather than Taiwan. For some strange reason the edge of the fountain is full of little figurines and other knickknacks.
This shrine is dedicated to finding love. Once they succeed in finding a partner, people who have come here to pray put their wedding photos on the wall.
Heading down the stairs from this area you reach the temple’s museum. Here’s where things start to become neglected. I was there on a pretty hot day but the AC wasn’t on, there are no guides or even brochures, and the exhibits are poorly maintained with dust and even broken glass scattered among the little wooden figurines. It’s like it used to be a nice museum ten or even twenty years ago but now they do as little as possible to keep it open. Side note, that a temple has a museum is quite strange, but as you will see it’s not the strangest part of this place.
Leaving the museum you enter the statue garden which is host to a wild mix of statues from different styles; Imperial Chinese soldiers, Greek/Roman gods, ancient Egyptian gods, Napoleon on his horse, modern soldiers with machine guns, and so on. Most of this is in pretty good condition but a few of the statues are damaged and there’s a general feeling that they’re not very well looked after.
Note: he only joined for the easily accessible parts.
The incredible mix of statues
Heading down the slope from the statue park you come to a something that looks a lot like a Chinese garden with ponds and pavilions…only the ponds are all dry and the statues in them are overgrown. Here you can really sense that the place is neglected.
Continuing down the hill you will notice that the statues by the side of the path are dirty and several of them are overgrown with vines as if they’re beings slowly swallowed by the jungle. If you pay attention you can also see some smaller paths leading off to the side, totally inaccessible now due to the vegetation. Eventually you’ll reach a small shop that hasn’t been open for years. I believe this is the turning point for most visitors but there is plenty more to see.
Overgrown statues on the way to the shop
From the shop you can head up a set of stairs back towards the museum entrance where you will find an overgrown, mosquito infested pond with a couple of dirty statues here and there in the jungle.
On the far side of this pond is partially overgrown set of stairs, at the top of which you can catch glimpses of a small building. Everything so far has been accessible to the average visitor, this is the first truly abandoned part of the temple complex. Inside is a mess of broken, dusty figurines, and display cases that have seen better days. I guess this is some kind of annex to the museum that’s become abandoned over the years.
Some close ups of the interior
Continuing through the museum annex there’s a small, overgrown outdoor section with a few more statues. I could see the path continuing into the jungle but at this point it was too overgrown, even for me.
The last statues in the jungle
You might think that this is the end but there’s still more to see. From the closed Nestle shop you can continue down the hill where you will find the Thousand Buddha Cave. This is an artificial cave that runs along the side of the path. It’s in surprisingly good condition. On the opposite side of the path you can spot a few statues poking out through the foliage; apparently there used to be another path branching off here that’s been completely taken over by the jungle.
Thousand Buddha Cave
The statues of the lost path
At the bottom of the hill is a locked gate but you can see there are more buildings behind it. There’s also a very obvious path around the side of the gate. Past it you will find some truly abandoned areas of the temple complex. I should point out that bypassing the gate could get you in trouble.