Friday, September 30, 2016

Kek Lok Si Temple (極樂寺) - The Most Beautiful Chinese Temple @ Penang Island [Malaysia]

I think it's about time for me to get back to blogging about my last overseas trip to Pulau Pinang as there were still quite a couple of outstanding postings and i shall start with my full post on the most impressive temple on the island; Kek Lok Si (極樂寺)!

Directly translated as paradise temple, the two Chinese characters in front are also used for 極樂世界which means paradise world which sounds really nice but in the Chinese Buddhism context, it refers to heaven for those who died.

Not exactly auspicious sounding when we said to those behind us to quicken their pace so that we can reach the paradise world faster! Hahaha.

It shall be an upward climb to the built in year 1890 temple according to my memory even though those keen to pick a good or deal can try their luck at the retailers on both sides of the narrow, sheltered walkway.

An archway likely donated by the famous Aw brothers (who gave Singapore Haw Par Villa); couldn't see much as the words were mostly covered by the aluminium roof.

Do note that the space can get stuffy especially when a big crowd of visitors was going the opposite direction! Relax, take a deep breath, say sorry and squeeze your way through! The Malay word for sorry is "maaf"!

Tote bags - a useful lightweight bag that can hold your necessities required on a road trip; umbrella, water bottle, wallet, snacks. Not enough for me though; not when i have a DSLR and an extra lens. 

Oh, that's short as i figured the journey to the temple would be much longer. Wait, i did recall seeing a tortoise pond before i reached the temple compound 20 years ago....

There's indeed more to go! 

Arrival at the Tortoise Liberation Pond (乌龟放生池)! For more pictures and my sentiment upon seeing the pond for the first time after two decades, click here

New structure surrounding the pond was being built; creating dust and noise that i honestly feel wouldn't be beneficial to the tortoises. 

Not just the tortoises by the way as humans might be affected too by the lack of any safety measures. Oh well, i am only a visitor and i don't believe in sharing my views on other countries' domestic matters. I will just bitch about it. :P

Huge ass boulder! 

View at the side; guess this would be a nice place to relax once it's completed. Pity Penang, like Singapore, is just too hot and humid for any sane being to relax under the sun! 

Very rustic urinal without any visible sewage drainage; guys, please keep in mind the "splash" given the unevenness of the base and the height of your "tool" from the ground. Let's just be hopeful this was just temporary and the temple management would be building proper urinals. 

Advantage of the "urinal" - good view in front of you. Just remember to keep your "stream" steady lest you dirty your "neighbour" accidentally. 

A poem on an even bigger boulder; supposedly by some famous Tang scholar! Taking into consideration that the temple is a hundred over years old and the Tang dynasty was over a thousand years ago, it's quite obvious this was written by some other guy. 

In case you are interested to read the full poem. 

A notice welcoming visitors to the temple but another message was brought forth strongly; the information that there's no insurance coverage and there's no claim for loss, damage and injury! My personal opinion is that no premise can absolve their responsibility from claims.

Donated roof tiles housed in an empty space. 

Typical traditional Chinese style walkway that could only mean we were nearer to the temple's entrance. I am still a bit confused on where the exact entrance is as there had been quite a number of places where the words "極樂寺" were boldly displayed.

Let us explore the mini garden by the side first.

The iconic Ten Thousand Buddhas Pagoda (Ban Po Thar) with its unique architectural style drawing influences from the Chinese, the Thai and the Burmese! 

Another angle shot since it's never sufficient to take just one picture. I took like maybe a gazillion shots and had to forgo many as i didn't want to spam my blog with almost similar photographs. 

Mini-pagoda in a water fountain. 

Take a closer look and you would see little statues of Buddha housed within the retro looking mosaic-tiled enclosures!

Sheltered pavilion that didn't allow anyone to enter as a quiet sermon was supposedly in session. 

You know what i mean right? 

Side view - i am reserving my comment which may turn out to be sacrilegious although i can understand why the place was gated up to prevent visitors from going in. Allow access and maintenance fee is likely to shoot up.

Directions to the Five Direction Buddha Hall; i have touched on the hall which was covered under my Ban Po Thar posting. Click here for the post!  

On our way up; yes, there were beggars. 

I think we were about to reach the main entrance of the temple, like finally! Those temple arches were giveaways; no!?

A building that caught me by surprise as it was where we walked under earlier; if memory served me right, the boulder with the poem was right under it too! 

Loud and clear - all visitors must leave by 6pm. According to Alex's friend, the temple will extend its operating hours during the Chinese New Year and the whole place would be lighted up with a festive atmosphere.

Another view (elevated) of the Ten Thousand Buddhas Pagoda (Ban Po Thar)!

There were two entrances and i couldn't decide which one to take, especially when i am the last in my group to go up and didn't know where the rest went. 

I just had to follow my intuition.

I don't even know how to describe this area except that there were many life sized golden statues of Buddhas. For more photos, click here

Panorama taken! I almost missed out this photographs as i shot it using my iPhone and i have the tendency to forget copying the pictures from phone to computer. 

Entering the temple finally. The vibe it gave me was more like i am walking around in China where there are many beautiful courtyards; some steeped in super long history .

Heavenly Kings Hall with a large statue of Maitreya in the middle. Has anyone noticed something different when it comes to the placement of the four heavenly kings' statues? 

They were usually placed on the sides instead of the more common way of having the patron saints facing the main entrance. Is there any reason for such unique placing?

Love this photograph for the three plaques that were laid so neatly! Please don't ask me what the Chinese words mean as i seriously don't know. I know each of them but in their combined form, i don't get their translation!

Another saint, i presume. 

Donation counter for the tiles we saw earlier; each was tagged with a price tag of RM30 and you are allowed to write down your name to gain merits. 

Candles in a pineapple shaped glass jars - the significance of the pineapple for the Chinese is prosperity; the wealthier the better! 

Main prayer hall of any Buddhist temple; The Mahavira Hall (大雄寶殿).

Fake tortoises on the roof of a structure - the appearance of the tortoises is okay but why the stones? In the olden kampong days, stones were used to hold the aluminium sheets for the houses in case strong wind blew them away. 

Scenery of the Penang hill that sits in the centre of Penang Island.

Close up of the Ten Thousand Buddhas Pagoda! Would love to see what's on each level of the pagoda? Click here to get your answers! 

Explanation of a symbol that's used in both the Eastern and Western world even though for the latter, it was more popularly known as the logo of the Nazi. 

Incense urns that dated back to the Emperor Guangxu reign of the Qing Dynasty and were still in mint condition! 

Another highlight of Kek Lok Si and one that i often indicated as the new icon of the temple; the humongous Guanyin statue which was serviced by the first inclined lift in Malaysia! 

Obviously, this warranted a separate post and you may find more photos of the 30.2 meter goddess of mercy statue here, including our short ride on the inclined lift.

Back to the area near the Heavenly King Hall - at this time, i knew we were late as the arrangement with the driver to drive us back was at 2pm and it was already 2.20pm! Hence, i didn't have time for the bell tower! 

I am unsure what the scientific / official name for the plant is even though Chinese named it aptly as the firecracker flowers plant. 

Random picture because i could still afford the time needed to use my camera for randomness like this.

Going down which was much easier; the older generation would tell you that's not true as there's a higher risk of falling when walking down! 

Vegetarian restaurant - unless i am with my mom, it's highly unlikely i would pay a visit to a vegetarian restaurant. Sometimes for that pricing, i am better off eating meat. 

Down and down. My journey up, right to the main temple compound, took me about 18 minutes (including numerous stops to take photos) whereas the way down was close to 11 minutes. 

Another quality product many aunties love to haul back to Singapore from Penang is nutmeg ointment from cheong kim chuan - click to check out what's available! 

More on the retailers. Some of them maintained their old signboards and / or nostalgic posters like the second photograph which showed a gift voucher for an optical shop! Most interestingly was the telephone number which had only five digits! 


Upstream of the Air Itam which gave the area its name. In Peninsular Malaysia, there's also an air itam but it's spelt as Hitam. Hitam is Malay for black whereas Air isn't the air English speakers are aware of. Air in Malay is water! 

There's a status for the condition of the water;  At that moment, water was said to be rather clean! 


Kek Lok Si Temple ,11500 Ayer Itam, 
Penang Island, Malaysia

Temple Map

As above


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