Kek Lok Si is the largest Buddhist Temple of Malaysia situated at a hill top in Air Itam area of George Town Suburbs. Kek Lok Si means “Temple of Supreme Bliss” in Manadarin. When I scaled the temple on a sultry March afternoon, certainly the cool air on the hill top was very blissful.
It was built between 1890 -1905 by Beow Lean, the chief monk of the Goddess of Mercy Temple.The main draw in the complex is the striking Seven-storey Pagoda of Rama VI (Pagoda of Ten Thousand Buddhas) with 10,000 alabaster and bronze statues of Buddha, and the 30.2 metres (99 ft) tall bronze statue of Kuan Yin, the Goddess of Mercy.
HOHO Penang Bus dropped me near the small bazar(market) at the foothill. From there it is a steep uphill climb though the entire track is under the shade. It resembles Vaishno Devi Track by looks with the difference in appearance of the pilgrims, travelers and the numerous shops along the path. The hike is quite tiresome considering the scorching Sun of Penang in mid afternoon. One must take enough water, while climbing.
The entire experience was quite exotic as I saw various ingredients which comes handy in the rituals in the shops and I have never seen those strange looking props. Overall, the path is dusty as construction work were at progress but as one climbs up, things get quieter. Few beggars would still be seen lying around the path but they don’t haggle for a dole.
The temple is constructed in several levels, with a tall pagoda style tower and many smaller shrines and pagodas here and there. 10000 religious figurines adorn the temple along with landscaped gardens. It has a unique blend of architectural style comprising Mahayana Buddhism, Theravada Buddhism and traditional Chinese.The sanctum contains images of Buddha and several Gods/Goddesses of this pantheon.
The upper levels contain a viewing deck offering commanding views of George Town as well as the Malacca Straight.The temperature is few degree lower than the foothill and cool, breeze was very welcoming for a person being baked and fried since morning.There is a cable car to carry pilgrims and visitors further uphill. On the elevated platform, there is a fish pond, and the towering statue of Kuan Yin, Goddess of Mercy which is worshiped by women to get children.
It adorns decorative lighting during Chinese Festivals and huge number of devotees come here for worship.The temple complex has a large hydraulically operated bell, which tolls with a high pitch at frequent intervals. Wood and stone carvings are profusely seen in the temple. In front of each deity there is a cushion, impressive scrolls, and candles set in very attractive suspended lamps, and with a large number of priests in attendance.
Exotic Kek Lok Si temple was a visit to be cherished though it was strenuous climb. The variety of colors and amalgamation of culture of several sects of Indo-China makes Kek Lok Si a must visit in Penang. Get Down from the top and head for The Penang Hill for a mind boggling evening.
Credits:Key information fetched and used from Wikipedia