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'Zombie fever' creeps into 18 Levels of Hell in southern Taiwan

Visits to Madou Datian Temple spike tenfold amid zombie craze sparked by Tainan Art Museum

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Entrance to Eighteen Levels of Hell in Madou Daitian Temple. (Madou Daitian Temple photo)

Entrance to Eighteen Levels of Hell in Madou Daitian Temple. (Madou Daitian Temple photo)

TAIPEI (Taiwan News) — The zombie craze kicked off by an exhibition at Tainan Art Museum has boosted visits tenfold at a nearby temple known for its "Eighteen Levels of Hell" (十八地獄).

Early Saturday morning (June 25), opening day for the museum's “Ghosts and Hells: The Underworld in Asian Art," thousands lined up before opening time at 10 a.m. So many visitors were eager to catch a glimpse of its featured phantoms, the venue had to limit each of the four rooms to 400 visitors.

'Zombie fever' creeps into 18 Levels of Hell in southern Taiwan
Interior of Eighteen Levels of Hell display. (Madou Daitian Temple photo)

Complaints from a religious group prior to the opening of the exhibit only served to fan the flames of "zombie fever." The influx of tourists has had a spillover effect for other venues in Tainan, such as Madou Daitian Temple (麻豆代天府) and its "Eighteen Levels of Hell" and "Heaven" attractions, reported UDN.

Madou Daitian Temple, or the Temple of the Heavenly Viceroys, is a 50-minute drive from Tainan Art Museum and is located in Nanshi Village in Tainan's Madou District, according to Madou District Office. Due to the large crowds and difficulty entering the Tainan Art Museum exhibition, many netizens have recommended visiting Madou Daitian Temple instead.

'Zombie fever' creeps into 18 Levels of Hell in southern Taiwan
Interior of Eighteen Levels of Hell display. (Madou Daitian Temple photo)

A temple staff member told the news agency that over the weekend "tourists from every direction have suddenly started to pour in." On an average weekend, about 100 tourists visit the temple, but on June 25-26, the number of visitors exploded to 1,000, according to the staff member.

'Zombie fever' creeps into 18 Levels of Hell in southern Taiwan
Interior of Eighteen Levels of Hell display. (Madou Daitian Temple photo)

The Eighteen Levels of Hell section of the temple was constructed in 1979 at a cost of NT$100 million. It is situated inside the body of a dragon that is 76 meters long and seven meters high.

The entrance features three guardian demons and on either side of a descending staircase, there are murals on the wall that emphasize the distinction between good and evil. This is followed by 10 courts ruled by different kings and 18 hells, such as the "Hell of Tongue Ripping," "Hell of Oil Cauldrons," Hell of Boulder Crushing," "Hell of Disembowelment," and "Hell of Sawing."

'Zombie fever' creeps into 18 Levels of Hell in southern Taiwan
Interior of Eighteen Levels of Hell display. (Madou Daitian Temple photo)

Each hell lists the punishments imposed on people who commit specific sins. For example, the "Hell of Tongue Ripping" is for those who gossip. Beyond the levels of hell, there is also an exhibit on "Heaven," which depicts positive outcomes attained through religious devotion.