Photo: Approaching the temple.

Goddess of Mercy Temple

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As one of Penang’s oldest and most celebrated buildings, the Goddess of Mercy Temple is also one of the island’s most historically revealing.





It was the Brits, of course, who laid claim to having “discovered” Penang when Captain Francis Light founded Georgetown on behalf of the East India Company in 1796, but the reality is very different and this iconic temple is living proof that the Chinese were here long before.

Curious about your fortune? Photo taken in or around Goddess of Mercy Temple, Penang, Malaysia by Sally Arnold.

Curious about your fortune? Photo: Sally Arnold

Also known as the Kuan Yin Teng, the position where the temple now stands was venerated by Chinese sailors from as early as the 12th century. The site was originally a small hillock, raised above the surrounding swamp and overlooking the sea, and this blessed it with very auspicious feng shui energies of the green dragon.

Generations of sailors believed that the goddess of the sea, Ma Chor Po (Mazu), guided them here towards three miraculous freshwater wells, which still exist today and are said to represent the three all-seeing eyes of the feng shui dragon itself. Voyagers left talismans and made offerings on this spot from that time on, including the great Chinese adventurer, Admiral Cheng Ho, who many believe set foot here in the early 15th century and made the first documentation of Penang island on his maps and charts. If you believe local folklore, you can visit his very footprint at the Sam Poh Footprint Temple in Batu Maung in the south of Penang.

Popular with devotees and tourists alike. Do consider others please. Photo taken in or around Goddess of Mercy Temple, Penang, Malaysia by Sally Arnold.

Popular with devotees and tourists alike. Do consider others please. Photo: Sally Arnold

The temple land was “gifted” to the Chinese by the British in 1801, which is the official construction date of the existing structure, although there have been shrines and buildings here for much longer and the transfer of ownership was a mere formality. The site still retains the very special atmosphere that must have attracted the first sailors many ... please log in to read the rest of this story.


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Goddess of Mercy Temple
Corner of Jalan Masjid Kapitan Keling and Lorong Stewart
Admission: Free

Location map for Goddess of Mercy Temple

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