Visit Kek Lok Si Malaysia’s Largest Temple in Penang

Although determining which is the largest Buddhist temple in Southeast Asia is controversial, Kek Lok Si is undoubtedly the most impressive Buddhist temple in Malaysia.

This strikingly colorful temple sits quietly on a hillside and offers the best views of Georgetown on Penang Island. Kek Lok Si holds the record in Malaysia for the tallest temple, having the tallest granite pillars and the tallest statue of Kuan Yin.

Not only is it one of Penang’s top sightseeing destinations, Kek Lok Si Temple is also an important place of worship for both Taoist and Mahayana Buddhists. The temple becomes an impressive site during the Lunar New Year when thousands of lanterns and candles are lit, creating an atmosphere so solemn that visitors have to consciously whisper to each other.

The most special thing about Kek Lok Si is the interesting contrast with other tourist attractions in Penang.

“I am so glad I took the time to go to Kek Lok Si temple because it really is a place with a completely different scene,” explained blogger JB Macatulad after visiting “Will Fly for Food.” calendar in search of a “legendary hawker”, and took a detour to the temple itself. “It was quiet and the weather was very mild, an environment quite different from the hustle and bustle of George Town.”

History of Kek Lok Si Temple

Motivated by the need to build a Buddhist practice site in Penang, the chief monk of the Kuan Yin Pitt Street temple proposed (and helped raise funds) the construction of Kek Lok Si.

The first stone on which Kek Lok Si was built was laid for the first time in 1893. The leading Chinese Hakka magnates in Penang were called upon to provide financial support; Cheong Fatt Tze (his home is still in George Town) was the most generous contributor.

The temple, which opened in 1905, was blessed with a sacred stone and 70,000 copies of the Imperial Edition Buddhist Sutras by Emperor Manchu Guangxu, who died three years later.

Kek Lok Si doesn’t just stop at construction. The most iconic part of the temple is the 10,000 Buddha statue – built only in 1930. The 100-foot statue of Kuan Yin, Goddess of Mercy, was added to the temple in 2002. Date Today, construction around the statue continues and is funded by the Chinese community in Malaysia.

Visit Kek Lok Si Temple

No matter what day of the year, Kek Lok Si is always bustling with activities with an increase in the number of new worship rooms. Kek Lok Si is not really famous for its colors because of its soft color design and only slightly wavy in the light.

JB Macatulad himself was also impressed by “all the pink Buddha statues with swastikas on their chests.” (Please note that these symbols are not anti-Semitic symbols, it was the Nazis who took the symbol later.)

“I find the temple to be outstanding in both the good and the bad,” explains JR. “It’s not disrespectful because I see there are a lot of highlights but some seem flamboyantly show off.”

Although Kek Lok Si is a popular tourist destination, JB also notes to visitors that it is also an important place of worship. “When I was there, most of the visitors were pilgrims – and it was more than just a place on their tour,” recalls JB. “Obviously they will pray in front of the statue and make offerings.”

Temple of 10,000 Buddha statues

In addition to the bronze statue of Kuan Yin, Kek Lok Si also attracts the attention of the temple with 10,000 Buddha statues, and this part of the structure is built in a mixed style and you will see in the rest of the temple.

Also known as Ban Po That, the temple’s official name is “Rama VI Temple” because this Thai king laid the first building stone. Inspired by Chinese architecture, the middle floor is Thai architecture and the top is Burmese architecture, the temple represents a blend of Mahayana faith and Theravada Buddhism rarely seen in temples. temples in Southeast Asia.

At 291 feet, the pagoda has become a symbol of Penang. Inside the temple is still the patronage of the Thai royal family with a statue of Buddha donated by King Bhumibol Adulyadej.

Good food around Kek Lok Si

Because of its regional characteristics, Kek Lok Si does not have as many culinary options as George Town. However, if you want to find good food, you have to ask food bloggers such as JB Macatulad – who came to the food industry before finding this temple.

“We probably wouldn’t make the trip to Kek Lok Si because it wasn’t for Air Itam Assam Laksa and Sister Curry Mee,” JB confided. “Food is the main reason we travel, so visiting these two legendary hawker stalls was our intention.”

These two stalls are nothing but amazing.

“[Air Itam Assam Laksa] has been selling their Assam laksa for over 30 years, while the two sisters [Sister Curry Mee] have been selling their curry mee at the same roadside stall for over 70 years …and that is impressive.

Lunar New Year in Kek Lok Si

Visit Kek Lok Si Malaysia’s Largest Temple in Penang 4
Kek Lok Si Temple @ Shutterstock
The Lunar New Year in Penang is celebrated extremely bustling at Kek Lok Si. During the New Year celebrations, the entire temple complex and its surroundings are lit up with thousands of lanterns, each representing a donation from the blessers and devotees. Today the lanterns number in the tens of thousands.

If you can’t get here during the Lunar New Year, try visiting the temple at sunset for great photos.

How to get to Kek Lok Si Temple

Kek Lok Si is located about 40 minutes from Georgetown. You can take bus #201, #203, #204 or any bus that says Air Itam from the Komtar shopping complex in Georgetown.

When you get off at Air Itam village, ask for directions to Kek Lok Si, or cross the market towards the highly visible temple perched on the hillside.

Many visitors choose to visit the Snake Temple – or even the two-hour walk to Balik Pulau – when visiting Kek Lok Si.

Admission to Kek Lok Si is free, but you need to pay a small fee to enter the 10,000 Buddha statues. The hanging ladder to the Kuan Yin statue also charges a fee.


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