Tai Wai Walled Village and its Hau Wong Temple
Tai Wai (pronounced Dai Wai in Cantonese) basically means ‘Big Walled Village’ and although there is a stop on the MTR East Rail line, the original area has more or less been absorbed into what is now considered as the greater Sha Tin area. Despite this, the village that gives its name to this part of the area still exists and has some great little historical parts to it, it’s no surprise seeing as it dates back to 1574 – making it the oldest village in the area.
The village was originally known by the name Chik Chuen Wai and this is testified by the name plaque that still sits above the official village main gate (see photo below).
Like all walled villages, it is customary to have the village temple directly in line with the main gateway and Tai Wai is no different. The red and yellow tiled temple facade of the villages Hau Wong temple is easily distinguished when looking through the main gate and it has an interesting history.
Hau Wong himself is believed to be an early refugee who settled in the Sha Tin valley and farmed on the land. His legend states that people from all over would come to him for his shrewd advice on all manner of topics and when he died people instead came and prayed at the site of his old hut to seek divine wisdom.
It appears, from records, that there was at one point, two Hau Wong Temples in the Tai Wai area. The original temple was inside the village and a newer one was built outside the village walls to allow non-villagers to worship the deity. The original temple’s god was moved to the new location to facilitate this. It seems that the subsequent neglect of the village temple was causing a bit of bad luck and the deity was moved back inside the village and from here on Hau Wong was only worshipped by Tai Wai villagers.
The subsequently redundant new temple seems to have been knocked down when the area north of the village was cleared.
The temple that can be currently seen inside the village is a replacement. The original one was also knocked down during a squatter clearout around 1982 and there is a plaque inside the right hand room which says that this later incarnation was constructed in 1983.