This is a long post with heaps of pictures because I’m going to write about a special place in Singapore. This is one of the places that I remember visiting when I was a kid. I used to love it here – the Singapore Haw Par Villa.
It’s one of those places that all parents brought their kids to when they were little. Back in the old days where there was no Universal Studios and Disneyland, the Haw Par Villa was the most fascinating place to many of us. I loved it there.
It used to be a pain getting to this attraction. I remember having to take and switch several bus rides to get there. But lately, the Circle Line of the train (Mass Rapid Transit or MRT) network has been completed and I took a glance at the network map and was pleasantly surprised to see that there was a Haw Par Villa MRT station.
The train took us right to its doorstep.
The Haw Par Villa is a quirky place. There’s lots of scary things. And the hubby asked if I saw the “gruesome stuff”.
This place houses hundreds of statues and figurines depicting scenes from Chinese folklore, legends, history and Confucianism teachings. Some are pretty but many are scary looking.
The Haw Par Villa had its glorious days in the 80s. I have memories of running about with my cousins, having lots of fun snapping pictures with the statues. It was a beautiful garden. Well, it still is..
If you are a Singaporean of Chinese race and was born in the 80s or earlier, it is likely that you would have taken pictures with these three Fu, Lu and Shou statues when you were a kid.
My mother went with me to check the place out because everyone said it’s a dead place now and it may be demolished anytime. I researched it and found out that the place lost its appeal to the locals when fees were imposed in the late 90s. Today, it is free entry into the villa grounds but the place was practically deserted. I felt really sad to see this –
There were only a few tourists when we were there. The gardens were so quiet. It was a wet day and I guessed that made it worse. Sigh.
The most well-known attraction and one that every kid who has been to Haw Par Villa will remember is the Ten Courts of Hell. It has gruesome depictions of the different aspects of punishments in hell for the bad deeds that were committed while living. It’s all contained in a dark long tunnel in the shape of a dragon.
The gruesome stuff starts from outside the tunnel.
The message on the stone reads – The sea of bitterness (depth of misery) has no horizons (is endless). Turn back and you will find shore.
It means that if you repent and change for the better, you can avoid the sea of misery. Else you’ll end up miserable like this –
This is the door (entrance) into the Ten Courts of Hell attraction. Chinese mythical stories say that Hell is guarded by the Cow Face and the Horse Face fellows.
Inside the tunnel, there are exhibits in the form of figurines to depict the Ten Courts of Hell.
This is the First Court of Hell.
Here, the King Qinguang conducts preliminary trials and each prisoner is judged according to his deeds in his past life. The “good” are distinguised from the “evil” and the King recommends appropriate reward or punishment. Punishment is then carried out in the various Courts.
Down the tunnel is where all the other Courts are and the various scenes of torture for the “evil”.
If you were a drug trafficker or addict, tomb robbers or had coerced people into crime and social unrest, you would be punished by being tied to a red hot copper pillar and grilled.
If you were an ungrateful person or were disrespectful to elders, your heart would be cut out as punishment in the Third Court of Hell.
The Fourth Court
If you had lacked filial piety, you would be punished by being grounded by a large stone.
There are all kinds of gruesome scenes of punishment for various evil deed. The dim environment added to the scariness ad creepy feeling.
The list of names and offences..
After serving their sentences, the prisoners would arrive at the Tenth Court, where King Zhuanglun would pass judgement.The prisoners would then proceed to drink the “Meng Po Soup” which would erase their memories of their past lives. They then proceed to be reincarnated. Depending on the prisoner’s past life, he would either be reborn as a human being or an animal.
I like the Haw Par Villa and hope that some rich investor will bring money one day and revamp this place and restore its original glory.
Then we can bring our children here too and it wouldn’t be a dead town.