This weekend, we also made a pit stop at the Chung Tai Chan Monastery. This monastery was founded by the Venerable Master Wei Chueh in 1987. The current headquarters of the Buddhist monastery is located in Nantou County and was opened in 2001.
The monastery is just outside of Puli and is accessible only by private transportation or taxi. The taxi ride will only cost $200NT one way from Puli bus station and takes about ten minutes. Be sure to grab the phone number of your taxi driver, as taxis do not wait at the exit.
It is recommended that you arrange a tour three to five days before visiting the monastery. Information for arranging tours can be found on the website (http://www.ctworld.org.tw/english-96/html/a10guideTour.htm). Without a tour, you will only be able to see the first floor of the main building. You will miss out on the other 15 floors of awesome stuff. If you are like us, planning anything three to five days in advance is unheard of. When we got there, we approached the registration office. The masters told us we could join a Chinese-speaking tour. We wouldn’t understand, but at least we would be permitted to enter the restricted area. We were happy enough with this arrangement, but the master who showed us around had studied in England and translated for us the whole way anyways. We were very grateful.
Inside the monastery are a variety of statues depicting Buddha and other important Buddhist figures. On the tour, the master will explain the meaning of each statue and some of the Zen Buddhist beliefs. This was particularly helpful as we know little about Buddhism.
In addition to the main hall, there is also a museum, a large park, and a couple vegetarian restaurants. The museum costs $100NT to enter, but the monastery itself is free.
It really is a stunning and informative place. If you have a chance, I would recommend spending half a day there on your way to or from Sun Moon Lake.