Pi-Lu Monastery

Buddhist Monastery in Taichung

Built by a devout Taichung family in the 1920s, Pi-Lu Buddhist Monastery looks more like a mansion than a monastery, with its red-bricked facade, Doric columns and portal entrances. Framed by pines in the garden out front, the monastery stands graceful and reverent, though not without a hint of quirkiness, due to the unusual proportions of the western architectural features. This unusual monastery is tucked away in the foothills of Taiping Shan (太平山) in Taichung's northwestern district of Houli.

Inside the building is a lofty hall with large windows and a green ceiling – in Buddhist colour symbolism, green signifies the absence of desire. There are shrines to Avalokitesvara Bodhisattva and Gautama Buddha, the resident gods.

To the far left of the monastery is an interesting European-style dome building in white. It's a columbarium; if the door is open, you can see white stone tablets with the names and pictures of the dead stacked like bricks along the curved wall, a shrine to the Bodhisattva in the centre, and Buddhist chants playing in the background.

The scenic Houfeng Bicycle Path will take you here. If you're driving, head north on Hwy 13 from Taichung's Fengyuan District (豐原市). You'll see the sign for the Horse Farm (馬場) soon after passing Houfeng Bridge (后豐大橋). Turn right and you'll see the Horse Farm after 3km. In the fork right before the farm, bear right to enter the hill. You'll see the monastery after 2km. The travelling distance from Fengyuan District to the monastery is about 14km.