A huge canopy of entwined branches sweeps over a courtyard, creating a natural 'tent' of shade over area of more than 600 square metres. Remarkably, all of these branches stem from just one tree, the astonishing 300-year-old Tungliang Banyan Tree.
Located in front of the Bauan Temple in the village of Tungliang, this amazing tree is considered sacred by the people of Penghu. Its ability to grow ardently in such a harsh, wind-swept environment has made it into a symbol of the unyielding spirit of the Penghu islanders.
The legend of the Banyan Tree
The locals have a story to explain the origin of the tree. Legend has it that around 300 years ago, during the reign of Qing Emperor Kangxi, a merchant vessel passed through the waters around Tungliang and encountered a shipwreck.
Apparently the only thing that had survived the wreck was a Banyan sapling floating on the sea. The residents of Tongliang received this and planted it in their township. A temple complex was built afterwards and now the tree has become a part of it.
A unique sacred site
The locals believe that the deities of the temple have blessed the place, hence why the tree has been able to grow to such an extent. Others believe that the tree has flourished because the temple has protected it from the harsh winds of the area.
Such an old and lush Banyan tree is very rare in Penghu and is therefore it needs to be carefully maintained. It's important to not leave any trace on the Tungliang Banyan Tree when visiting – writing on or marking the tree is not permitted.
Take a walk under its shady arms and maybe try a bit of cactus-fruit sorbet at the snack shop, something you won’t find anywhere else in Taiwan and well worth trying.