Wong Tai Sin Temple (pinyin: Huáng Dàxian Cì) is one of the most famous shrines in Hong Kong. It is dedicated to Wong Tai Sin, or the Great Immortal Wong. The 18,000-m² Taoist temple is famed for the many prayers answered: "What you request is what you get" via a practice called Kau Cim. The temple is located on the southern side of Lion Rock in the north of Kowloon.
In the early 20th century, Leung Renyan spread the influence of Wong Tai Sin from Qiaoshan, Guangxi province of China to Wan Chai, in Hong Kong. On the main altar of the temple stands the painting of the Taoist god, which was originally brought to Hong Kong from Guangdong province in 1915. In 1921, under the advice of an enlightened one, they moved the temple to Rosy Garden, its current position.
The temple remained a private shrine limited to only "Pu Yi Tan" Taoists and their family members until 1934, when the government opened the temple to the public during Chinese New Year. Temple historians often describe the shrine as a miraculous structure for surviving the Japanese occupation in the 1940s relatively unscathed.
In 1956, the government proposed to reclaim the temple for public housing development. Chairman Wong Wan Tin's pushed for the temple to remain open. Charging a 10-cent admission fee at the main entrance, fees were donated to the Tung Wah Group of Hospitals. To facilitate administration and management, the temple was registered as a limited company of charitable nature in 1965, and was granted the immunity of not having to add the word "Limited" to the organization's name.
Because of its historic significance, the Temple is graded as a Grade II historic building.
There is a Nine-Dragon Wall modeled after one in Beijing. The Three-Saint Hall is dedicated to Lü Dongbin, Guan Yin, and Lord Guan. Containing a portrait of Confucius, the Taoist temple has a collection of Confucian, Taoist, and Buddhist literature.
The architecture is the traditional Chinese temple style with grand red pillars, a magnificent golden roof adorned with blue friezes, yellow latticework, and multi-colored carvings. Aside from the Daxiong-baodian or Grand Hall, Sansheng Hall and the Good Wish Garden are also worth seeing. The temple grounds also feature three memorial archways. The first one stands outside the temple and is carved with the name of the temple. If you walk past the soothsayers and the fortune-telling stalls, you can see another memorial archway. And if you continue further along the third memorial archway standing before you.
Annually, from January 1 to 15, the temple receives numerous visitors, such as those whose prayers were answered returning to thank the immortal. Wong Tai Sin's birthday on the 23rd day of the 8th lunar month, and the Chinese New Year holidays are the busiest times for the temple.
On the Chinese New Year's Eve, thousands of worshippers wait outside the temple before midnight and rush in to the main altar to offer Wong Tai Sin their glowing incense sticks when the year comes. As the tradition goes, the earlier they offer the incense, the better luck they will have that year.
Most of the visitors come to the temple in search for a spiritual answer via a practice called Kau Cim. They light incense sticks, kneel before the main altar, make a wish, and shake a bamboo cylinder containing fortune sticks until a stick falls out. This stick is exchanged for a piece of paper bearing the same number, and then the soothsayer will interpret the fortune on the paper for the worshiper. Often the same piece of fortune is taken to multiple booths for verification purposes. Some booths offer palm reading service.
Recently, Taoist weddings have been performed here.
The temple is open from 7:00am to 5:30pm throughout the year, and runs overnight in the Lunar New Year Eve. It is currently administrated by Sik Sik Yuen, a Taoist organization in Hong Kong.