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Kuan Yin Temple, Penang

Posted by on Jun 1st, 2007
Filed Under: Penang, Sights

Kuan Yin Temple PenangKuan Yin Temple

The Kuan Yin Temple is one of the oldest Chinese temples in Penang, situated on Jalan Mesjid Kapitan Keling. It was constructed in the early 1800s by early immigrant settlers from China, on land given by the East India Company.

The Kuan Yin temple was built in classic Chinese architecture style; ornate curved-ridge rooftops made to look like ocean waves decorated with dragons and dragon-entwined pillars, carved from a type of green stone. These dragons are believed to be the temple guardians. The temple interior is usually filled with the scent of sandalwood incense, burnt by devotees who visit the temple to pray and seek guidance from Kuan Yin.

Kuan Yin is one of the most famous Buddhist deities, who is also known as the Goddess of Mercy and has achieved nirvana but decides to remain in the material world to help humankind reach enlightenment. Kuan Yin is depicted either standing or sitting on a lotus flower, sometimes with a baby; holding the Lotus Sutra in one hand, and a string of prayer beads in the other – the Lotus Sutra symbolizing her compassion to the world and the string of beads a sign of her devotion.

The temple also honours Ma Chor Poh, the patron saint of seafarers, who was highly regarded by the Chinese settlers, many of whom had travelled great distances, crossing the seas from China to Penang.

Location of the mosque is also fortuitous; lined up in the same row, and within walking distance from the Kuan Yin Temple, are the Kapitan Keling Mosque and the St George’s Church; a silent reminder of the religious harmony that is sacred to all Penangites. The compassion of Buddhism, the simplicity of Islam and the serenity of Christianity – each unique in its own way, but together they represent the intertwined strands of George Town’s populace.

Opening Hours: Early morning to late evening.

Location: The temple is in Central Georgetown on Jalan Masjid Kapitan Kling (Lebuh Pitt) in between Lorong Stewart and Lebuh Farquhar.

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