Hi Travel Buddies,
We have seen old photos from our parents taken at Har Par Villa but we never feel the urge to go to this place. Last weekend, we finally decided to pay a visit to Har Par Villa (虎豹別墅), also known as the “Tiger Balm Gardens”. Thanks to the opening of the Circle Line on Oct 8, the Har Par Villa main entrance is just a stone’s throw away from the Har Par Villa Station.
As it is so convenient to visit this long forgotten tourist spot now, it is not surprising for us to see crowds of visitors on a Saturday’s afternoon. We were impressed by so many colourful statues depicting the different chinese characters we learnt from the Chinese legends (for example, Journey to the West, Madam White Snake) and history. Much to our surprise, the site is huge and one can spend almost half a day to complete the tour.
The key attraction not to be missed is of course the Ten Courts of Hell. At the entrance to the Ten Courts of Hell, you will recognise the “Ox head” and “Horse face”, the famous guards or escorts of the “Neither World” – the Ten Courts. We shall not elaborate or show the gross photos of the different punishments which can be quite gruesome in our opinion. However, it is good to know what type of crimes will be admitted to the Ten Courts of Hell.
1st Court of Hell – King Qinguang conducts preliminary trials and the good are distinguished from the evil according to their good or evil deeds in their past life.
2nd Court of Hell – Inflicting physical injury, conmen, robbers, corruption, stealing and gambling, prostitutes
3rd Court of Hell – Ungratefulness, disrespect to elders, escape from prison, drug addicts and traffickers, tomb robbers, urging people into crime and social unrest
4th Court of Hell – Tax dodger, refusal to pay rent, business fraud, disobedience to one’s siblings, lack of filial piety
5th Court of Hell – Plotted another’s death for his property or money, money lenders with exorbitant interest rates
6th Court of Hell – Cheating, cursing, abducting others, misuse of books, possession of pornographic material, breaking written rules and regulations, wasting food
7th Court of Hell – Rumour mongers, soaring discord among family members, rapists, driving someone to their death
8th Court of Hell– Lack of filial obedience, causing trouble for parents or family members, cheating during exams, harming others to benefit oneself
9th Court of Hell – Robbery, murder, rape, any other unlawful conduct, neglect of the old and the young
10th Court of Hell – After serving their sentences, prisoners arrive and brought to the Pavillion of Forgetfulness where they will receive a cup of magic tea from an old lady Meng Po. Upon drinking, they will forget their past lives and go through the Wheel of Reincarnation. Depending on their past life, they would either be reborn to human or animal, either good life or bad life of sorrow and suffering.
We will recommend Singaporeans and tourists, especially parents to bring their kids to Har Par Villa as we find it really educational and also good knowledge for one who wishes to learn more about Chinese cultures and history and the best part is that admission is free! You can also drop by the Hua Song Museum, located at the new wing of Har Par Villa, where the museum showcases the dreams, sacrifices, successes and achievements of the Chinese who faced adversity in their search of fortune overseas, enabling overseas Chinese today to embrace their cultural roots and origins. However, you will need to pay S$8 and S$5 for adult and child/senior citizens respectively.
We are glad that Har Par Villa is very well-maintained and still retain its original flavour until today. We hope that there will be more tourists visit and embrace the old charm of this place for many years to come. 🙂