Exploring Kek Lok Si Temple in Penang: Things To Know

Introduction to Kek Lok Si Temple in Penang

Kek Lok Si, which means “Temple of Paradise” in its direct translation, should be on your list of “Malaysia Must-Visit” places. We followed the tens of thousands of pilgrims and worshippers that come here each year from different South East Asian nations to witness this magnificent temple, which is also the largest Buddhist temple in all of Malaysia.

Situated at the foot of Air Itam mountain, Kek Lok Si Temple, which was built in 1905 and is located in Georgetown, Penang, is a must-see regardless of how long you plan to spend in Penang. 

Brief History of Kek Lok Si Temple Penang

The Kek Lok Si Temple Penang has a long history that dates back to the late nineteenth century. A priest named Beow Lean travelled to Penang in 1885 to solicit contributions for a monastery in Ku-san, China. The expansive hill at Air Itam, outside of Georgetown, was later discovered, and he found that it had the ideal Feng shui for the construction of a Buddhist monastery.

The Kek Lok Si Temple was built beginning in 1890 and was finished in 1905. The tower of religious books was finished in 1899, the Hall of Boddhisattvas in 1891, the Hall of Devas in 1895, and the Hall of Devawira in 1896. Beow Lean was appointed the first Abbot and Chief Priest of the Kek Lok Si Temple in 1905.

From 1906 until 1938, Beow Lean served for 15 years before being succeeded by Poon Teong. The second Abbot oversaw the construction of the Pagoda of a Million Buddhas, as well as the expansion of the monastery.

In 1938, the third chief, Abbot Yuan Ying, succeeded Poon Teong. He was followed as the fourth top Abbot by Pai Sheng, and subsequently as the fifth main Abbot by Tat Neng from 1990 to 1997. The magnificent Kuan Yin statue was completed under the sixth head Abbot, Jit Heng.

Kek Lok Si Temple Opening Hours

Kek Lok Si Temple’s opening hours start from 8:30am until 5:30pm every day. You are permitted to stay here until at least 6:00pm once inside the temple compound.

Around 10:00 am, the visitors start to arrive in droves. Therefore, if you want to enjoy the serene atmosphere of the temple, arrive earlier! The temple complex can be explored at a leisurely pace for up to 2 hours. Additionally, if you’re travelling with a group, you should stop for some memorable group pictures.

Kek Lok Si Temple Entrance Fee & Other Fees

Kek Lok Si Temple entrance fee is free. Yet, be prepared to pay for the inclined lift and access to some locations.

Price of the Incline Lift to the Pagoda’s Statue of Guan Yin:

Adults: RM3 one way, RM6 round trip

Children aged 7 to 12: RM1.50 one way, RM3 roundtrip

Price for the Pagoda:

The Kek Lok Si Temple Pagoda’s admission price is RM2. However, children under the age of 13 only need to pay RM1.

Additionally, the temple may host donation runs on occasion to raise money for upcoming building initiatives or to maintain the temple’s upkeep so if you wish to donate, you’re more than welcome to do so.

Kek Lok Si Temple Dress Code

Despite the fact that Kek Lok Si is a Buddhist temple, there is no mandatory dress code. However, do pack something that covers your shoulders and wear something that covers your legs just in case an unstated dress rule is suddenly enforced. 

Things To Do in Kek Lok Si Temple

1. Visit the Kek Lok Si Pagoda

The main feature at this temple complex and an emblem of Penang is the nearly 100-foot-high pagoda known as Kek Lok Si Pagoda. Outside, visitors can observe the pagoda’s exquisite Thai, Burmese, and Chinese architectural elements. You can also pay a nominal charge to hike up seven levels to get a view of amazing panoramas of the hills.

2. Admire the Massive Statue of Kuan Yin, the Goddess of Mercy

Pay your respect to Kuan Yin, the Goddess of Mercy, by riding the incline lift up the hill. The 120-foot-tall bronze statue of the goddess is one of the temple’s most popular attractions. A fish pond, pagodas, and temples surround the statue of Kuan Yin, which is elevated inside a lovely octagonal pavilion.

3. Visit the Avalokiteshvara Hall

Photo: Wikimedia Commons

Three majestic seated Boddhisattvas await believers in prayer at the shrine of Avalokiteshvara Hall. Also, hundreds of little niches with seated Buddha figures decorate the hall.

4. Marvel the Kek Lok Si’s Stunning Buddha Pavilion

The path leading up from the Avalokiteshvara Hall leads through a nicely adorned hallway facing a planted garden. On the periphery of this beautiful park are dozens of Buddha statues, and in the centre is a structure with smaller prayer halls.

5. Feed the Tortoises at the Tortoise Liberation Pond

The Tortoise Liberation Pond, also referred to as the Tortoise Pond, is one of the temple complex’s must-see and must-do attractions. Numerous little tortoises may be found in the pond, and you can buy kangkong, also known as Asian water spinach, from nearby local vendors to feed them.

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