Friday, November 8, 2013

The Kek Lok Si Temple- A Must-do in Penang

 

The spectacular Kek Lok Si Temple is one of Penang’s most famous sights.  Also known as the Temple of Supreme Bliss, this temple situated at Air Itam on Crane Hill (He San) is believed to be the largest Buddhist temple in Southeast Asia.

The construction of this temple was believed to have commenced in 1893, and was actively promoted by the chief monk of the Goddess of Mercy temple at Georgetown’s Pitt Street. The location of the temple itself is quite significant, as the hills within which the temple is situated, are thought to have the right ‘feng shui’ and hence are very auspicious.
The temple has thus attracted the largesse of various Chinese rulers over the years, like the Manchu Emperor Guangxu who bestowed a tablet and a gift of 70,000 volumes of the Imperial Edition of the Buddhist Sutras to the temple project. Similarly, the Emperor Kuang Xi and Empress Cixi, also showered many riches on the temple.

Star attractions of this sprawling temple include a lofty, seven storey tall pagoda known as the ‘Pagoda of 10,000 Buddhas’. This addition was in 1930, and features 10,000 alabaster and bronze Buddha figurines. The structure features an amalgamation of Chinese, Thai and Burmese architectural design by marrying a Chinese octagonal base with a Thai style middle layer and a Burmese crown, thus symbolizing the temple’s embrace of both Mahayana and Theravada Buddhism.  The summit of the pagoda, can be accessed via a steep flight of stairs, and affords stunning views of Penang and beyond.
Yet another impressive sight at the temple is the 30.2m tall bronze statue of the Chinese Goddess of Mercy, Kuan Yin, which overlooks the rambling temple complex featuring prayer halls, bell towers, pagodas and more.

The temple is open daily from 7am to 9pm but it is said the best time to visit is during Chinese New Year, for during this time this fantastic structure is decked out with numerous lanterns  and presents a stunning sight.

 

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