Thursday, July 6, 2017

The highest section of the spread out Kek Lok Si Temple complex

On a hill with grand views of Penang (which can be 
better appreciated upon clicking the above image!)...

...can be found this tall bronze statue 
And in a nearby hall can be found this multi-armed 
Many years ago, I took an American friend to the Kek Lok Si Temple in Air Itam, Penang.  As we walked through the main part of this sprawling temple complex that's full of exotic sights (some of which used to scare me when I was a child!), he got to asking me -- not entirely in jest, I'm thinking -- to confirm that it all wasn't just a movie set.       

At the time, the highlight of our visit involved going into the temple's Pagoda of Ten Thousand Buddhas and up along flights of stairs that get progressively narrower the higher you climb to the top of this seven-storey structure.  From there, you'd get a panoramic view of the surrounding area and all the way to George Town over in the distance.  

These days, however, one can venture further up the hill to a highest section of the Kek Lok Si Temple.  And that was what a group of us (including my mother, a friend of hers and my German friend) did on my most recent visit to this Penang landmark whose construction began in 1890 but seems to be still being added to and expanding to this day.
Towering above its famous pagoda is an over 30-meter-tall bronze statue of Guan Yin, the Goddess of Mercy, housed in an 83-meter-high pavilion and visible from many kilometers away.  The tallest statue of its kind in the world, it replaced a white plaster-encased fiber glass statue of the same deity which didn't fare too well when exposed to the elements.  While certainly very impressive, this present statue reportedly is a scaled-down version of what had been originally planned, as its height was limited by the authorities so that it wouldn't cast its shadow over the Penang State Mosque located in the area below.     

One structure that this statue does overshadow -- and whose very existence I previously had not been aware of -- is a nearby hall housing a very different version of Guan Yin, one whose multiple arms are extended to help out various people.  Also in the area is a pond filled with fish, into which an artificial waterfall flows along with representations of the Chinese zodiac along with other animal sculptures that are distinctly cutesy in nature!
If not for my German friend being around on my most recent visit to Malaysia, I'd not have found out about this place for probably a few more years.  And I have to thank her too for getting me to finally check out Ipoh's Sam Poh Tong (and its award-winning ornamental garden), Nam Thean Tong and Perak Tong.  
All in all, as I told her near the end of her visit: especially when you also throw in our visits to Borobudur (including Candi Pawon and Candi Mendut), Prambanan (including Candi Sewu) and those other ancient religious structures on the Prambanan Plain (such as Candi Sambisari, Sari and Plaosan), I think that we've now gone together to at least as many religious places in Malaysia and Indonesia as we've been together to biergartens and brauhauses in Germany! ;b


Carver said...

Sounds and looks like a fascinating place.

sarah bailey knight said...

Hi ytsl,

Thank goodness your friend Ruth visited you in Penang!! The temples are all so lovely. Each has it own charm. I am enjoying reading your blog posts about them. Kek Lok Si Temple is so gorgeous....the architecture, the colors are so beautiful, so peaceful and the views and surrounds are delightful.

YTSL said...

Hi Carver --

The whole of Kek Lok Si Temple is indeed pretty fascinating! :)

Hi sarah sbk --

Actually, it was more a case of Ruth and I meeting up in Penang (with my flying in just one day before she did), with a plan to go together to Indonesia -- and I must say it all did go very well, with our ending up seeing a number of wonderful temples in Indonesia and also Malaysia (including Penang itself). :)