Sunday, January 20, 2013

A Fusion of Architectural Styles: The Kek Lok Temple in Penang, Malaysia

Yesterday, I visited Kek Lok Si (極樂寺) in Penang, Malaysia. According to Penang Travel Tips it: the largest and arguably the best known temple in Penang. It straddles a hillside overlooking the town of Ayer Itam and George Town beyond that. It is a temple that harmoniously blend Mahayana Buddhism with Taoist beliefs and other Chinese rituals, creating an amalgam that is uniquely its own...

The 10-acre site was purchased in 1893, and the temple was completed in 1904. An official opening ceremony was conducted on 13 January, 1905.

For the first thirty-five years of its existence, the temple was without its iconic pagoda. Nevertheless it was already assuming a position as one of the most prestigious and renowned Mahayana Buddhist religious institution in Southeast Asia. It was only in 1927 that the iconic pagoda, today one of the most recognizable landmarks of Penang, came into being.
I have seen a large number of temples, yet Kek Lok stood out in several respects such as its combination of Thai, Burmese, and Chinese architectural styles, the large number of shops inside, and the inclined lift. I will say more about the shops in a later post, but first I will share some photos of scenes from the temple that capture a bit of its spirit and its mix of architecture. And there is also one photo of the inclined lift--about U.S. 66 cents per ride.

Approaching Kek Lok Temple from the bus stop

Miniature pagoda

Full-size pagoda
Closeup of the Pagoda of 10,000 Buddhas

A view from the pagoda


More lanterns

several people posing for a photo
Photo opportunity

An "inclined lift" to the Kuan Yin statue

The 30 meter tall bronze Kuan Yin statue, completed in 2002


Blessings and commemorations

[For more temple scenes, see here for some I saw in Macau, China.]

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