Lots of Temples, Lots of People: Visiting Kaohsiung's Lotus Pond

The famous Dragon and Tiger Pagodas (longhuta; 龍虎塔).
Me taking several pictures as usual!
Many of the sites I visited in Kaohsiung were gorgeous and interesting; Lotus Pond was no different! Like the day we went to Cijin Island, my dad and I were blessed with beautiful weather when we visited the pond. You can tell by the bright blue sky in the pictures, right? I still find it hard to believe it was in the middle of winter! Southern Taiwan is definitely a great place to be in the during wintertime if you love warmer weather. 

Lotus Pond has quite an interesting history. The "pond" is actually a large manmade lake which was opened to the public in 1951. While the lake is a contemporary fixture, many of the sites around it have roots in antiquity. There are several temples, halls, pavilions, and palaces around the lake from centuries past. The area certainly has a nice ethereal feeling to it. 

I think it would take the better part of an afternoon to see all the sites at Lotus Pond, but you'd certainly be tired from all the walking afterward! Luckily, there is a long pedestrian road with several food venders right next to the lake so you can walk around a refuel simultaneously! 
A map of Lotus Pond, click to enlarge.

Nonetheless, my dad wasn't up to the task of walking around the whole lake, so we only saw the Dragon and Tiger Pagodas(longhuta; 龍虎塔), Confucian Temple(kongmiao, 孔廟), Spring and Autumn Pavilions(chunqiuge; 春秋閣), and the Pei Chi Pavilion(beijiting; 北極亭). As we had to shuffle through crowds, it certainly felt like enough!

"Please, come it! I won't eat you, I promise!"

Arguably, the Dragon and Tiger Pagodas are one of the most stunning fixtures on Lotus Pond. I felt like a little kid when I was entering the dragon's mouth; being "eaten" was definitely good fun! I was also amused as I watched people be regurgitated, ehm, exit the pavilion. 

Fairly new, the Dragon and Tiger Pagodas are barely 40 years old. As you acende the pagodas' spiralling staircases, you'll find paintings of bodhisattvas and the Jade Emperor's 30 palaces.

The Temple of Confucius(孔廟).

Originally constructed in 1684, the Temple of Confucius is an impressive structure located directly across from the Dragon and Tiger Pagodas. Since its original construction, it has been relocated and rebuilt more than once. 

In front of the temple is the mouth of the long snack street where you can score dumplings, meat skewers, and several other night market-style fare. My dad and I were hot and bought some ice cream to enjoy on the steps of the Temple of Confucius. Eating food from the market on temple stairs is a common practice in Taiwan as food markets are often built around temples and seating is limited. However, there was a guy who seemed disgruntled with us for no reason; he stopped in front of us, stared angrily, and looked like he wanted to whack my dad! Luckily he eventually went off on his way!

Spring and Autumn Pavillions(qiuchunge; 春秋閣)
Of course, there are several lotus plants on Lotus Pond!
Pei Chi Pavilion(beijiting; 北極亭)
Completed in 1995, the Pei Chi Pavilion was built in honor of the "God Emperor of the North Pole"(beiji xuan tian shangdi; 北極玄天上帝). My dad couldn't muster the strength to walk down the long path to climb the pavilion, but it was plenty impressive from far away. I believe the best panoramic views of Lotus Pond are from the Dragon and Tiger Pavilions, anyhow. 

I'd definitely recommend a stop to Lotus Pond when visiting Kaohsiung. On the weekend, the crowds are impressive, but it's worth braving them to see the many historical sites and contemporary religious structures around the lake.

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