Between two high-rise buildings on Queen’s Road East sits a quiet, rather dark temple. Its carefully carved roof bears patterns telling tales from Chinese folklore, and the smell of incense fills the air as you walk past it. This temple is easily overlooked in all of the chaos of people, cars, and buses on the busy road, but the building has stood there for more than 170 years.
The temple is a Hung Shing temple, and is unique to southern China – especially Guangdong province – and Hong Kong.
The Hung Shing temples are dedicated to Hung Hei, the Governor of Panyu – a district of Guangzhou – who served during the Tang dynasty (618-907). He was loved by the people of China, and put in a lot of effort to make sure the people that he looked after were well taken care of. After his death, he was deified, or worshipped as a god, and people continue to worship him today.
There are several Hung Shing Temples in Hong Kong. Many hold relics that date back years – or even centuries. Here is a list of five temples that you can visit in the city.
29-131 Queen’s Road East, Wan Chai
This particular temple was built in 1847 on the edge of what used to be the harbour. Originally overlooking the sea, it was built on large boulders on uneven ground. Today, it is surrounded by residential, commercial, and office buildings, owing to the years of reclamation and development that Hong Kong Island has seen.
No. 8 Chai Wan Road, Shau Kei Wan
There are six temples here built in 1980 by the Shau Kei Wan Kaifong Advancement Association. Inside are several statues of Chinese gods and goddesses, to which people come to pay their respects.
Sha Lo Wan, Lantau Island
This temple, built in 1774, is more commonly knows as Ba Kong Temple, which translates to “guarding the bay”. A second Tin Hau Temple that was built in 1919 is now connected to the Hung Shing temple. You can visit it by hiking the Tung O Ancient trail from Tai O to Tung Chung.
58 Fuk Tsun Street, Tai Kok Tsui
Originally built in 1881 where Boundary Street and Tai Kok Tsui Road meet, the district’s original temple was torn down in 1928 by the government to make way for a reclamation project. In 1930, it was rebuilt on its current site by the Tung Wah Group of Hospitals. It is the only Hung Shing temple left in urban Kowloon today.
No. 9 Hung Shing Street, Ap Lei Chau
Built in 1773, this Hung Shing temple is the oldest temple in the Aberdeen and Ap Lei Chau area. A declared monument, it has been legally given the highest level of protection in Hong Kong. Historical relics in the temple include a bell that was built in 1773 and pottery made during the Qing dynasty (1644-1912).