Monday, December 16, 2013

Kek Lok Tong Cave Temple [極樂洞] - Cavern of Ultimate Bliss @ Ipoh [Perak, Malaysia]

極樂洞 - one of many cave temples in Ipoh, this happened to be the first that i visited on my second day in Ipoh, as part of a private arrangement made for a car that came with a chauffeur.

Those signature limestone hills that i can only view from afar in Ipoh city were finally right in front of me!

As ancient Chinese legends / myths often portray immortals and deities living in mountains, hills or caves, it should not come as a surprise that this natural cave has been a place of worship since 1920s.

Things might have likely been very different then; for all we know, it could just be an untidy little shack honouring only one or two notable deities.

The magnitude of the cavern was impressive and this showed only about half of its actual length. Roof was pretty smooth (making me wonder if there has been some alterations to them) with interestingly shaped stalactites spotted on the sides.

Stone sculptures lined the entrance and one of them featured Singapore's famous symbol; the merlion! Unlike the mother merlion with her glorious expulsion, this appeared to be drooling at something on the ceiling.

Photographs available for sale at RM 2.00 each - nothing extraordinary about them although it was helpful to have the placards for easy identification of the many deities housed in the cave.

For example, would a layman like us ever know for sure the name of the deities above? From left to right - 通天教主 (Grandmaster of Heaven), 元始天尊 (Supreme of All Beings), 太上老君 (Grand Supreme Elderly Lord).

Front portion of the cave held predominantly Taoist statues whereas the back portion was dedicated to the other popular religion for many Chinese; Buddhism.

I can only identify one; 弥勒佛 (Maitreya Bodhisattva) who was known to many children as the "Laughing Buddha". Do you know that Maitreya has been prophesied to be the next Buddha who would appear in the world.

As far as religious worship is concerned, there was nothing particularly remarkable in Kek Look Tong. It was more the unusual fact that a temple was inside a big cavern that attracted more attention from tourists like myself.

What i love most was the huge and amazing garden at the back that was surrounded by hilly terrain of lush greenery and varying gradients!

Weather was not too hot and the family decided to take a stroll in the garden. Mom went prepared with her umbrella just in case the merciless sunlight managed to permeate through the clouds and smeared her makeup.

Sounded a bit funny but i guess it's not hard to understand what the sign is trying to tell you.

Chanced upon children on a school trip and all of them were holding on to a digital camera! For my time, it's hard to get your parents to pass you a film camera as their worry was that we would shoot too many pictures (developing them can be insanely expensive and there was no such thing as the "delete" button)!

Monkey (long tailed macaque) on the flower beds having stalks and stalks of yellow blossoms! Its expression seemed to suggest that the flowers were really delicious; so much so that i was almost on the verge of trying it out myself!

Lotus lake - looked like we were in China right?

A mother goose nesting her eggs! As some of you are aware, mothers can be extremely protective when it comes to keeping their eggs safe and my mom warned me that goose bites can be very nasty!

Other side of the lake showing the cave's entrance / exit. I would have loved to spend a bit more time in the garden but there was one irritating problem.

Fat mosquitoes that seemed to enjoy my blood more than my parents! The best thing was I actually brought along mosquito repellents; they were in the luggage back in the hotel. =_=

Time to retreat back to the shaded comfort of the cool cavern!

Climbed up the stairs as i remembered from my conversation with Jammy of My Ipoh Holiday that there was a place where i should explore and take a picture.

Da-tah! Mom using her incredible household-chores-trained strength to keep the humongous rock from falling! Visibility was quite bad so this was the best of the lot!

No incense sticks in the cave! I can so imagine the air pollution if this rule is ever relaxed although the lack of incense burners means the temple was losing a lot of income!

Three Holy Mothers - from left to right; 金花夫人 (Golden Flower Lady), 九天玄女 (Mysterious Lady of the Ninth Heaven), 天后聖母 (the popular Mazu).

Not related to any deity / immortal; however, doesn't the stone remind you of one character in Star Wars? Jabba the Hutt! 

In China, i have had my fair share of checking out caves with specially installed lights to enhance their beauty and of incredible yet interesting names given to unique formations of stalactites and stalagmites. Therefore, it can be a tad boring for those who have travelled to China. 

地藏王菩薩 - the great man who resisted calls to achieve Buddhahood until hell is empty! 

Loving this photo - the lonely man who was trudging his way slowly into the cave while the sun light illuminated the path! 

A pathway outside would lead you to a great vantage point where you can look out to the Ipoh city in the distance and a Muslim cemetery right outside the temple's main plaque at its entrance. 

One last look before we proceeded to our next cave! 


Kek Look Tong Gunung Rapat, 
Ipoh, Perak


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