Kek Lok Si Temple, Penang

In my previous post, we visited the Padi Muzium in Kedah. After that, we are headed for Kek Lok Si Temple (极乐寺) located at Air Itam, Penang.

Kek Lok Si Temple, or Temple of Supreme Bliss, was founded more than a century ago by the benevolent Beow Lean, a devout Buddhist from Fujian province. 

Do you know, the project received the sanction of the Manchu Emperor Guangxu, who bestowed a tablet and gift of 70,000 volumes of the Imperial Edition of the Buddhist Sutras?

In order to reach the foot of Kek Lok Si, you have to walk through this cramped bazaar that sells you stuff you do not need.

This is the end of the bazaar but it is just the beginning of your journey to the temple. You would bypass the "Pond of Liberation" on your way up. Judging by it's name, I suppose this is where devotees 'liberate' tortoises.

Pond of Liberation or Pond of Condemnation?

While Buddhists advocate the release (放生) of animals, particularly birds or fish, into their natural environment, I often wonder, are we really doing them a favor or are we bringing them greater harm instead? 

Have you ever seen cages of birds being touted outside chinese temples? For a small fee, you could buy the freedom of those birds but have you ever thought about their origins? 

If, the birds have been intentionally captured by someone just so you could free it (thereby giving you the false impression that you have just done an honorable deed), I guess that defeats the true purpose of releasing isn't it?

Well, it is an entirely different story if the bird you released has just been saved from from certain death (eg, from being eaten).

Personally, I do not support the act of buying ready-caged animals to release as I do not want to create a vicious cycle of supply and demand.

In the case of these turtles, the pond is way too crowded. Imagine how they would fight for space and food? 

What is your aim to release? I believe most people are doing it out of kindness but is what they are doing really good for the well-being of the turtle?

If I release a turtle into this crowded pond, do you think he is going to have a better life  or will he be condemned to a life of suffering

Get what I mean?

Follow these lanterns to the temple

Wishing ribbons

For a RM 1 donation, you could write your name on a ribbon and hang them on the 'tree'. Different colored ribbons represent a different wish. There are ribbons wishing for health, achieving good academic results and meeting prominent people among others...

The ribbons bearing the wishes of many devotees

One of the main highlights of this temple is the bronze Kuan Yin statue that stands at 30.2 meter tall overlooking the entire Penang.

The bronze Kwan Yin statue is situated on the top of the hill and you have to buy a ticket to reach there using the incline lift.

The ticket

The bronze statue of Kuan Yin.

The current statue of Kuan Yin was completed in 2002 and it is the second Kuan Yin statue for Kek Lok Si Temple. 

The first statue completed in 1977 was damaged by a heavy rain and fire in 1993.

The pavilion sheltering the Kwan Yin statue was built at a cost of RM40 million and is 82.7 meters tall from its base to the tip. That is about twenty storeys high!

This Kuan Yin head was salvaged from the first damaged Kwan Yin statue and had been left here ever since.

What were these doing in a chinese temple?

An unobstructed panoramic view of Penang from the top of the temple

The visit to Kek Lok Si Temple was quite a rushed affair. It was a huge place but we had only less than an hour to complete it. There were a lot more places left unexplored and many missed photo opportunity.

I wished we had come in the evening instead as I have seen photos of the temple at night.

The sea of lights could only leave one in awe at the magnificent and beautiful sight! 

Kampong Sungai Keluang
Jalan Air Itam
Air Itam, Penang
Malaysia 11500

+04 8288142

Opening Hours:
Daily from 9am to 6pm

Entrance Fees
FREE except RM 2 per entry to Thousand Buddha Pagoda and incline lift