Thursday, February 23, 2012

Lian Shan Shuang Lin Monastery (莲山双林寺) [aka Twin Grove of the Lotus Mountain Temple] @ Toa Payoh, Singapore

It's been a long time since i last blogged on temples; a topic that is generally not well received by the younger generation. Nonetheless, i always find temples interesting even though i may not know much on its history, architecture etc.

Given my limited knowledge, i am going to tag this under pictorial post where facts and figures may not be accurate and sometimes based purely on assumptions (to a lesser extent, nonsensical imagination).

Main gateway to the temple's compound. There are actually two styles of architecture in play here; from Fujian and Guangdong provinces respectively even though there exists distinction even between towns/cities in the province.

Fierce looking door knob - most of you may not be aware that this common door feature is not a lion! Known as Jiaotu, the ninth child of the awe-inspiring Dragon, this dragon's offspring is particularly averse to disturbance.

Half moon pond (半月池) right opposite the main entrance. Unlike most ponds in temples, this one has neither fish nor tortoise due to its use of chemical to treat the water.

Despite the lack of live animals, it still manages to attract crowds with the installation of this bell; Chinese believes the wish will come true if you hit the bell with a coin as you recite the wish. The louder the bell sounds, the higher your chance

Even I could not resist giving it a try! Wishing for the grand prize in TOTO so that i could travel around the world with my family!!

Hall of Celestial Kings (天王殿) - where you can find the four religious (not musical) kings of the Buddhist world. These armoured kings were depicted in the 1986 Chinese drama serial, Journey to the West and i fondly remember the magical weapon used by each King in order to subdue the monkey king.

Dotted the compound behind the 天王殿 are pots and pots of plants in many varieties; some are even specially cultivated to meet the aesthetic goal of bonsai.

This beauty, known as Shui Mei (or water plum) was a favourite feature in the garden of the kampong house i resided in my childhood.

Due to its downward looking white flowers, i have always thought the plant looks sad; as if it is waiting for someone to cheer it up. Melodramatic? Maybe.

Mahavira Hall (大雄宝殿) is one of the main halls for any Chinese monastery where key Buddha figures (like Sakyamuni) are worshipped.

Many people offer their prayers here and befitting its status, this is also the main hall where monks chant the Buddhist scriptures.

An urn for incense sticks? Nope even though i have no idea what purpose this intricately designed cauldron serves.

Outside altar for spirits. Temples are said to be abodes for the wandering spirits at night and this could explain why most temples are closed when sun sets.

Tired? Have a good rest on these big blocks of expensive looking stones!

A sheltered walkway. Compared to Guang Ming Shan, another big monastery in Singapore, Shuang Lin monastery has much lesser crowd and this was taken on a weekend!

Dead tree trunk? Think again!!! It's a bloody stone sculpture! So misleading right?! My fingernails almost broke when i attempted to scrape off the realistic looking tree bark!

The three-storey high buildings stand out from the rest for two reasons; the height and the modest design. I was trying to find the stairway to the upper level for this bell tower but wasn't successful.

Most of the rooms are occupied and in this case, it houses the statue of Guan Yu (known as the God of War). This is weird as i thought Guan Yu should be listed under Taoism instead of Buddhism. Nevertheless, many Chinese families, like mine, practice both religions vehemently.

My favourite food area! According to mom, vegetarian food were served for free on certain days in the past. This supposedly meritorious deed is customary for most, if not all Buddhist monasteries.

It would be interesting to know the reason for the long gash in the huge ass drum. A matter of long term usage, abuse or something valuable that had always remained hidden until then?

Sleeping Buddha - nothing much on this statue which is far smaller than its counterpart in Wat Po, Bangkok. However, the hall that houses the statue has paintings on its walls narrating the origins and important history of this century old monastery.

Side section of the main temple compound that contains ancestral tablets. As you can see, restoration is ongoing for this national monument gazetted by the country in 1980.

East door - Chinese buildings always adhere to the basic theory of Chinese geomancy; front the south and back the north. By the way, HDB buildings don't really obey to this feng shui rule.

Mini lotus pond in a stone! on't you think the stone has the appearance of a pig or rat? The snout is quite noticeable in this picture.

Guan Yin Dian (观音殿) - a separate building from the main temple. Guanyin, a bodhisattva famed for her mercy and compassion, is at times even more popular than Sakyamuni, the founder of Buddhism.

Spacious worship hall where you can get some peace and quiet. Strangely, this place exudes a very calm atmosphere and i could find myself drawn to it as i stepped into the area.

In addition to the gigantic thousand-arm Guan Yin statue, you can also find golden casts of the legendary eighteen arhats (十八羅漢).

Very close proximity to the nearby Toa Payoh HDB flats! 

Like many temples, you can purchase the lanterns for a nominal fee and hang it up for blessings. As i mentioned before, we don't know if it works but the most important question is; WHAT IF it works?

From memory, i think the Guan Yin Dian is newly built and the same goes for the pagoda!

Known as Dragon Light Pagoda (龙光宝塔), it is a replica of an 800 year old pagoda in Fujian. Damn, can't we have something original? Like maybe merlions decorating the pagoda instead of dragons?!

Golden Buddha statues, on the second, fourth and sixth levels, providing a distinctive colour contrast from the mainly grey pagoda.

Lone worshipper circling the pagoda while reciting the sutras.

Little bells on this tiered tower that tinkles with joy whenever the wind blows. Of course, we also believe that a spirit is in the vicinity whenever a bell rings without any air movement.

The pagoda as seen from the compound outside the Hall of Celestial Kings. It is also not hard to spot the pagoda from the bordering Pan Island Expressway (PIE).

An example of the temple's artwork which is undergoing restoration; pieces of porcelain making up the flower petals.

Visitors to Shuang Lin monastery normally enter from the main entrance and many are unaware that there are a few entrances. This one is located next to Block 195, which has a multiple storey carpark for motorists.

Before i end the post (finally), i would like to show you this dazzling stunner!

Seductive pinkish red flowers that appeared somewhat sacrilegious in this holy realm! But i like!!!  


Please click HERE.

Map Of Monastery
As above.

Additional Information
For the main monastery website, please visit

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