Sunday, September 11, 2016

The Ten Thousand Buddhas Pagoda (Ban Po Thar) - Main Iconic Pagoda & 五方佛殿 (Five-Region Buddha Hall) @ Kek Lok Si Temple [Penang, Malaysia]

Direction stated "to pagoda" in English but in Chinese, the indication was for two places; the 萬佛寶塔 (Ten Thousand-Buddha Pagoda) and 五方佛殿 (Five-Region Buddha Hall).

Paid up the RM 2 per person entry and the first one we arrived at was the expansive hall that houses the five Dhyani Buddhas; Amoghasiddhi, Amitabha, Vairochana, Aksobhya and Ratnasambhava.

People with scant information on Buddhism may just assume there's only the Gautama Buddha; in actual fact the word itself refers to a state of enlightenment and Gautama Buddha is more a teacher rather than god. 

Impressive mural on the walls; i am not a staunch Buddhist myself and can relate myself more to Chinese folk legends rather than the teachings of Buddhism. 

Personally, aside from being a place of peacefulness, the marble flooring and spaciousness of the hall provided much coolness for many who had to endure the heat outside the hall.  

Intricate design on the pillar that must have taken ages to make! I do respect those craftsmen for their dedication and patience; if it's me, i would have thrown away maybe a ton of rock and the completed workmanship would still be lousy. 

Displayed on the main altar was a framed photograph taken in 2009. Some might argue that it points towards the statue being taken over by the aura of the Buddha even though as an amateur photographer, my argument is more simplistic; shutter speed coupled with a figment of stray light.

Take your pick on the wide selection of wishing ribbons at RM 1 apiece; greedy individuals with cash to spare can buy all 32 of them as it's easier to play "safe". Yes, i am supposed to be sarcastic here. 

Business was good though. Oh, do remember to write your name so that the wish(es) can be accorded to the right person. Those with common names; i extend my apology. 

Now on the 萬佛寶塔 (Ten Thousand-Buddha Pagoda)! I mentioned before this was a design unlike the typical pagodas we see in Chinese temples and i wasn't far from the truth as it has its influences from Chinese, Thai and Khmer (Cambodian)!

Shall explain that later with a clearer shot of the pagoda. I don't know what's the above; a flag pole maybe? From far, the top would have looked like a round-headed bird with flagged up wings.

Main altar on the ground level with three statues of Buddha partially masked by the reflection and a few fish tanks by the side; thought the latter was a weird practice since Buddhism always talks of releasing animals back into the wild. Having said that, i am strongly against the practice as it's a fact that domesticated animals would unlikely survive in the wild. 

Still on the ground floor! In addition to the three statues i mentioned in the last paragraph, there's a bigger one right behind the middle one; a golden one! 

Time to go up! As you can see, the tiles on the wall had images of Buddha and they contributed to the numbers that made up the ten thousand namesake for the pagoda. 

I was expecting tiny Buddha statues to make up the 10,000 and felt that imprinted images on tiles didn't quite cut it. However, this pagoda was built in 1930 and back then, technology would have been a lot more backward.

To prevent vandalism, messages were written on the wall and can be found on every level. Strangely, i don't see any Malay unless the second one was Arabic. 

View on second level and more to come in the next few photographs. 

Remember this place that i blogged earlier this month; the area within Kek Lok Si that had loads of life-sized Buddha statues? So that's what the rooftop looks like! Even more statues! 

This was supposed to be an arty shot; truth is i forgot which level i was at. I always tell myself i must have a pattern in taking photos so that chronologically, they make sense when i am scrolling through literally thousands of them. I am still trying to make out that pattern.

More stairs - there's supposed to be seven floors and i endeavoured to cover each and every of them. Personally, i enjoy the feeling of being on top of a building; aside from contributing to my almost non-existent cardio exercising, the scenery on top is usually breathtaking!

Altar on every floor in the middle. 

Since the paint on the pagoda seemed relatively fresh, i am assuming these materials were kept there temporarily? No doubt a tripping hazard and an eyesore to the public. 

Sleeping Buddha - in the past, tourists to Penang would also stop over at the Wat Chayamangkalaram near Gurney which had the world's third longest reclining Buddha.

Once again, the view with the iconic KOMTAR.

The steps can be slippery in wet weather, i presume. So do exercise care and if you have kids, please control them as the passageway is narrow and the last thing you want is your kid bumping into an elderly and sending him/her down the stairs.

Weird to have an altar table without any offering. 

Another floor with scaffolding poles neatly placed on the floor. 

Random photo as i honestly doesn't know what this is.

Shooting a photographer through the circular outlets providing a direct line that cut across the altar.

Another reclining Buddha statue behind a seated one; the altar table did seem like it belonged to an era long long time ago. And did you even notice that old fashioned quilt-mat?! 

I couldn't remember which floor i was at. Sigh.

No complaint on the view right in front of me though! 

At this height, i also have a clearer picture of how humongous the temple compound is and shudder to think on the overtime we had to pay to driver if we were to check out every nook and corner. 

The 30.2-meter tall bronze Guanyin statue was another notable icon for Kek Lok Si temple; built in 2002, the pavilion was added a few years later. Think it's big? The one at Sanya, China, is a staggering 108 meters tall! 

Coming back to the interior.

At least the table wasn't empty with an incense urn and a offering plate that had two notes and a handful of coins. The businessman in me couldn't resist and had to comment that the temple could have done better to increase its cash flow.

Again, the Buddha-imprinted tiles.

I knew this was the last floor as the only access to the roof was chained up! Why why why......? 

Jubilation greeted me when i saw that the other access was unchained! I trotted in only to find that it was just an empty storeroom! :(

Customary panoramic shoot since it was the top floor! Does appear that the statue of Guan Yin was overlooking and protecting Georgetown. From my understanding, the structure was supposed to be taller but it was restricted to prevent overshadowing the Penang State Mosque. 

Hillside view next to the temple; farmlands likely to cater for the temple's needs. We didn't venture there as there wasn't sufficient time! 

These were not tiles; from the rivets at each corner, i can only guess these embossed plates were screwed onto the white tiles. 

Going down! 

Lower level scenery; did you notice the light bulbs? The temple was said to bask in festive lighting during the Chinese New Year and operating hours then would also be extended. Maybe i should make a trip then to immerse in a totally different experience! 

A lonesome Buddha statue, at peace with himself.

No idea what this structure symbolises; in my eyes, it bears resemblance to a bottle gourd tied with a ribbon! Don't trust me on that.

Have you noticed on the number of Buddha image designs that adorned the walls within this pagoda? Hawk-eyed readers should have the answer.

Additional two more in case you have missed them out! 

Back on the second floor.

Maybe in my haste to go up as fast as possible, i didn't remember seeing this statue. What's so special about this statue, besides being all gold and shimmering?

He has a few heads on his crown! Now, Chinese mythology has quite a few deities with similar features. As a logical human, i wonder if the heads will quarrel among themselves...

A small farming plot on the ground level next to the pagoda.

This temple gate / archway had references to two persons whose names are known to many Singaporeans. Hint: Haw Par Villa! Look closer and you would notice that it was erected by Aw Boon Haw and Aw Boon Par in 1930! 

20 years ago, two things were etched in my memory when it comes to Kek Lok Si temple; the ten-thousand-Buddha pagoda i just stepped out from and the tortoise pond which shall be covered in due course.

The 五方佛殿 (Five-Region Buddha Hall) looking like a palace from this angle! 

有求必应 means every request will be met - in Chinese terms, it means a place where your wishes will come true. As a typical Chinese, i had to check out what's it all about! 

A hanging bell that kind of had age written all over it but from the inscription, i gathered it was installed in 1992 which means i would have seen it in my last visit in 1995.

Make your wish and proceed to sound the bell by hitting it with the metal-encased wood beam! Beware the booming sound! Make a small donation if you wish. 

Guess the bell was heavily used; judging by the indentation and discoloration on the bell. 

As promised earlier, the 30-meter tall pagoda has three styles in its tiered design; first two levels were octagonally Chinese, followed by three floors of Thai and topped by two Khmer-influenced levels, including the spiral dome! 


Location Map
As above; within Kek Lok Si temple. 

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