With both temples located right next to one another, it doesn't make sense not to visit Nan Tian Tong (NTT) temple when you are in Sam Poh Tong temple! There are in fact two more temples along the same stretch!
As of now, let's just focus on the Cavern of the Southern Heaven which originated in 1867 according to a legend; making it over 145 years old.
Compared to the boring Sam Poh Tong, NTT was more of a visual treat with colourful statues that liven up the premises. This one-horn green ox is supposed to be a mount for one of the Chinese gods.
This is a classic mount for young children in the past! Nowadays, children are more likely to ask for battery-operated toy cars instead of wooden horses.
An ancient bell that hailed from the 25th year of Emperor Guangxu (Qing Dynasty)! Honestly, it was pretty ordinary and appeared to have been given a fresh coat of paint.
Another sculpture of a dancing lion with blazing red eyes!
Jumbo incense sticks on the side, likely preparation for an upcoming ritual / ceremony. Talking about incense, mom wasn't as siao-on in praying as she normally does in temples. Strange indeed!
This is a true-blue Taoist temple with 太上老君 (Grand Supreme Elderly Lord) taking a center role on the main altar.
To be frank, despite being exposed to Taoism since young, i have difficulties in identifying most of the deities. You can't blame me as there are so many of them!
Secondary chamber at the back.
Spiritual tablet of the four priests who used to lead the temple. Notice those pails on the floor? They were used to collect water dripping from the cavern ceiling! If not for human intervention, we might see a few stalactites a few hundred years from now.
Shot from outdoor.
Painted murals adorning the natural walls of the cave. The artists actually did their best to incorporate the natural layer into their artwork (take a look at the waterfall) which definitely gave the murals a more natural feel.
Before we entered the temple, the ambassador who accompanied us informed us that we could climb up the stairs to have a fantastic view of the surrounding. You should see the excitement on our faces!
Well, our jaws dropped when this steep staircase appeared in front of us.
What's worse was that the railings were not secured in a way that could give us better comfort. Mom did an abrupt U-turn whereas Dad and i decided to give it a go!
The journey didn't end at the top of the staircase! There were other flights of stairs we have to challenge and certain sections were pitch dark; adding the risk of injuring ourselves! I could not resist the adrenaline thrill though.
Five minutes later, we reached the top!
In a way, i was glad those young kids behind me at the steep staircase decided to turn back. There was a hole in the fence that they might just step in for fun. That would not be of any concern except it was a drop down the limestone hill.
There wasn't any sign to warn visitors and maintenance was really an issue with wooden planks that were on the verge of breaking. Key advice: please be careful on where you tread. And bring along a torchlight.
View - okay lah, not really amazing lor....
Vandalism on the wall - as we all understand from newspaper articles, this has been an issue in recent years and i don't take kindly to people who put their stake on items that don't belong to them.
Contradictory, i thought this piece was well-written and spoke of the feelings one get when he/she is seated in this exact same chamber; quiet, peaceful and others.
Time to go back. Just to show you that there was no railing to hold on too!
This was taken using very high ISO on my DSLR and i did some adjustment on Photoshop to show you the pitch dark area we had to pass through in order to get to the top chamber.
Time to conquer the steep staircase again - given the steep gradient, it was much easier to walk backwards since humans have the tendency to lean forward.
A customary shot of dad!
On our way out, we chanced upon another staircase and this piqued our curiousity to check out the areas it leads to! For all you know, it could be interesting!
Came to an empty room.
What do you think i did when i saw another flight of steep but thankfully shorter staircase? At this point, my dad has gone missing and i was alone!
I climbed up the staircase of course and found a room with a few altars. Maybe it was just my imagination but i could not help feeling a bit eerie as i checked out the somewhat gloomy looking room.
Discovered Dad in another room on a higher floor. His hearing seemed to have deteriorated since i tried calling him a few times when i could not find him! Guess it is time to bring him for a checkup!
The room has a balcony that opened up to a view similar to what greeted us on the top floor i mentioned a few paragraphs ago.
Another altar in a very confined area; one has to stoop very low in order to get in to offer his/her prayers and incense. The deity being honoured here was Datuk Gong!
二九乾坤 - not sure what is the meaning for such naming.
We would have continue exploring if not for a booming voice in Mandarin "wa kao, how come you all take so long ah?! I wait until very sian liao"!!!
Yes, it is the all almighty mum.
Time to leave!
Gunung Rapat, 31350 Ipoh,
For some of the old pictures, you can check out