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Kek Lok Si

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Dominating the hillside overshadowing the town of Air Itam, west of Georgetown, imposing Kek Lok Si is hyped as the largest Buddhist Temple in Malaysia.

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Translated from Penang Hokkien as the Temple of Supreme Bliss, its ornate mishmash of architectural styles with multi-tired wedding-cake like pagodas, a rainbow of garish colours, multitude of Buddha statues and a mixture of Chinese, Thai and Burmese influences may have the opposite effect on purists, it’s nevertheless impressive and one of Penang’s iconic and most visited attractions.

Strike a pose. Photo taken in or around Kek Lok Si, Penang, Malaysia by Sally Arnold.

Strike a pose. Photo: Sally Arnold

Chinese abbot Beow Lean came to Penang with the intention of collecting funds for the renovation of a temple in China, but was instead appointed as the resident Abbot at Penang’s Goddess of Mercy Temple and later set about establishing Kek Lok Si. Construction of the complex began in the late ninetieth century and was funded by five main local Chinese benefactors including Cheong Fatt Tze of Blue Mansion fame and Chung Keng Kwee, who at one time owned what is now the Pinang Peranakan Mansion. Officially opened in the early 1900s, further structures have been added over time, expanding the complex, and indeed this project seems ongoing as renovations and new building continues today.

The “official” entrance takes you past the ironically named Liberation Pond—a murky green pool filled with hundreds of captive tortoises and where a sign reads “strictly no liberation of tortoises into the pond”. The path then continues up several flights of covered stairs past rather secular souvenir and trinket sellers. To avoid the stairs (and the stalls), continue winding up the hill along Jalan Balik Pulau, and at a bend in the road, an arched gateway leads to the main entrance ... Travelfish members only (Around 700 more words) ... please log in to read the rest of this story.

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How to get there
Rapid Buses 201, 203, 204, 502 go to Air Itam and take about one hour from Georgetown (2 ringgit), it’s then a 20 minute walk to the temple. A Grab car costs around 10-15 ringgit and takes about 30 minutes.

Kek Lok Si
Jalan Balik Pulau, Air Itam
Mo–Su: 08:30–17:30
T: (0482) 83 317
Admission: Free

Location map for Kek Lok Si

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