Fung Ying Sin Koon, Fanling
Here is the info from the official literature:
“Fung Ying Seen Koon was established in 1929 as one of the important corporate bodies of Taoism in Hong Kong.
It worships the divine Tai Shang Lao Jun, Lu Chun Yang and Qiu Chang Chun, founders of Taoism….[it is] affiliated
to the ‘Complete Perfection Sect of Taoism’. During the period of its inception, Fung Ying Seen Koon catered for its disciples as a place for their seclusive Taoist studies…”
You really can’t miss this one, anyone who has been to (or even perhaps just through, on the way to the border) Fanling, can’t have failed to notice a very large temple complex on the southern side of the MTR East rail track right next to Fanling station. It’s bright yellow roof tiles make it hard to miss. I have been meaning to visit this place for a while. Actually, that’s not quite true, I did visit many years ago on my first foray into HK in 1995, but my interest in temples hadn’t really begun to flourish at the time so I gave it a cursory glance before heading off to other things. Wow!, I really missed out because this place is awesome.
Like many large temple complexes in HK (Wun Chuen Sin Kuen, Ching Chung Kuen, Wong Tai Sin, Po Fuk Shan to name afew others) this place takes up a huge parcel of land and thus has many uses. Of course it contains an impressive main temple for Taoist worship with several smaller temples and altars for worship of other gods. But what seems to be the main use now, and one which I know is very lucrative for the religious associations that run these places, is as Ancestral Halls.
The complex has several outer buildings that exist solely as repositories for ancestral remains. I’ve mentioned before that these consist of wall slots, where a person can store the ashes of their relatives, giving them a permanent place of worship for when the time comes to pay homage to your ancestors. It’s fairly obvious why these places are so popular. The slots cost money (many thousands of dollars depending on the location) but they are not as expensive as obtaining land and building a proper circular Chinese grave (more about them later). So, given the size of HK’s population and the fact that only indigenous villagers (or wealthy landowners) tend to have land for graves you begin to understand why the local population see these as a useful alternative and therefore pay good money for one or even multiple slots.
Another discovery for me is that you can get up into the hills behind the complex from a lovely pavilion called “Ming Terrace”. It looks to have been erected in 1966 and has a style of decoration that is definitely older than the main temple. I don’t think they are part of the very original temple complex that stood here – it was supposed to have been established in 1929 but it wouldn’t surprise me to find that the pavilion and it associated pai-lau (traditional gateway) were part of an extension during the sixties. Behind the pavilion you wander out on to the hills and all you can see is Chinese graves. I have never seen so many traditional grave sites in one place, spread all over the hill and adjoining slopes. Some look quite new, but many look as though they haven’t really been looked after with lots of undergrowth spilling over the concrete. Bear in mind that I am visiting only a week or so after Chung Yeung, the traditional grave sweeping holiday, so I would’ve expected to see evidence of burning and in general a cleaner environment. Not so. Looks as though many of these graves are forgotten. Anyway, from the top of the hill above the complex you get a great view of Fanling and surrounds.
Here is the temple’s Chinese website: http://www.fysk.org/
A note for Bruce Lee fans. This temple was visited by Bruce back in the 1960′s on one of his return trips. It was the location of a family get-together and there is a photo of him by the original temple altar below (courtesy of Peer Hessvedt).