Wednesday, February 27, 2013

500 Luohan Temple [五百罗汉庙] @ Bintan Island [Indonesia]

My mind drew a blank when my brother in law suggested a visit to the 500 luohan temple in our recent trip to Bintan Island. Don't get me wrong; i am fully aware of a place that houses five hundred golden statues of arhats but from my understanding, it is in China and not Indonesia.

Whatever the case, this recently completed temple was said to be a key attraction in many Bintan travel itineraries! Our arrival started with a grand Chinese stone archway guarded by two fierce looking heavenly generals.

To enter the vihara's compound, you first have to walk through what appeared to be a city gate built according to Chinese traditional architecture. To be honest, it was weird having such a towering structure on top of a small hill that has no similar building complementing its imposing existence.

Impressive sight that greeted us upon entering and one that took our breath away - the sculptural display of five hundred stone arhats on a tiered platform! More on them later.

Shocking news - deities in captivity! Sacrilegious! No lah, i think they might have just arrived and the caretakers have not had time to put them in their designated spots.

I could not remember who this is although i found it extremely cute to see a modern day pacifier on a religious statue. Beware, it would not be long before we see statues of gods holding mobile phone in addition to their magical weapon in their hands.

This statue depicted the daughter of a dragon who has attained the Buddha status despite her relatively young age at eight years old.

Guanyin Bodhisattva - as you can see, access was blocked to prevent touchy hands from damaging the statue and also to deter non religious visitors from posing inappropriately beside the statues for the sake of photo taking.

She, as in Guanyin (along with two other Bodhisattvas by her sides), was located right opposite the congregation of 500 arahats and it did seem like a religious sermon was scheduled to start; likely at night when all pesky, noisy visitors have left the compound.

Drinks and snacks were available (for purchase) for those who want to take a rest and enjoy the peacefulness and tranquility of the temple.

Steps to the main shrine housing the patron god, Ksitigarbha Bodhisattva [地藏王菩萨] who is famous for making a very noble vow; his determination not to achieve Buddhahood until hell is emptied of souls.

Now, we all know that is impossible! Humans are complicated and subject to way too many temptations in life. Having said that, his quest to eliminate human suffering is highly commendable and well respected by Buddhists.

Guess these were blessing papers where devotees wrote their names.

Elevated view of the five hundred lohan and their surroundings. Could you guess another place with a better view to catch the full splendour of the statues?

Answer: the top of the "city gate"!

A pavilion next to the shrine had a golden Buddha statue with Thai elements.

Facing him was the statue of a toddler; that of the Buddha when he was borne as an Indian prince. For more information on the founder of Buddhism, please click here.

Big ass bee with a yellow furry back!!

Coming back to the star attraction; the five hundred arhats (or arahats or luohans or lohans) that everyone is waiting for. Note: avid photographers would absolutely love this place.

Every statue was life liked and similar to the terracotta warriors in Xi'an; each of them has his own exclusive facial expression, features, hand posture with some holding on to weapons, animals, children and other magical possessions.

It was a neat arrangement that screamed of symmetrical order. Once again, visitors were restricted from climbing in, which i thought was a great pity.

You would have noticed the plaque in front of every statue which detailed useful information of the respective arhat's title and his background.

However, the barrier to enter means those plaques at the back would be as good as useless unless you have a pair of binoculars!

The first one looked like the war god; Guan Gong while the second one might have been the holy monk; Tripitaka from the Chinese classic literature, Journey to the West.

Ending the post with an arhat who had a mocking expression directed at the bird!


Unknown. We rented a car with a personal chauffeur and he was the one who brought us there. If you are keen to engage the service of a reputable car rental company, please click here. Most tour packages to Bintan would also likely cover this temple. Check with them for confirmation.

Additional Information
In the middle of my post, i mentioned having a better view by going up to the top of the 'city gate'. It was a no-go as the access was blocked!


  1. Anonymous4:16 PM

    Hi, sorry to trouble you but do you know approximately how long it takes to get from Bintan Agro Beach Resort to the 500 Luohan Temple?

    1. Hallo! No problem at all although i might not be of much help as we visited the 500 luohan temple in the middle of the day journey and it's hard to derive the time.

      I put it as an estimate of roughly an hour odd; to get out of the resort zone, it took us roughly 20 over minutes.

  2. Anonymous1:05 AM


    Can't seem to find this anywhere on the map. Would you mind sharing the location as travelling to Bintan next month and renting a car, thank you!

    1. Hallo, i actually don't know where the location is as i rented a car with a local chauffeur and he was e one who brought us there.


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