Tuesday, 3 September 2013

How have I missed this place?

Thian Hock Keng Temple

Temple of Heavenly Happiness

Telok Ayer Street

With hubby currently away with work I thought I would search out some new places for us to investigate when he was back. I heard about this temple close to "the Temple of Satay" - Lau Pa Sat!! and thought I would take a visit, we had wandered close by before but never spotted it...... how on earth did we miss it!!!

Thian Hock Keng is one of the oldest and the most important Hokkien Temple in Singapore built in 1839 in Telok Ayer St and completed in 1842. When the first Chinese immigrants landed in Singapore they erected this temple (without nails!) to give thanks to the Taoist Goddess of the sea Ma Zu Po, thanking her for their safe voyage across the South China Sea.

Its unbelievable when you look at how intricate the building is, and how large (although I've included many photos it wasnt even a quarter of those I took) that it has been built without the use of nails. They also included a statue of an Indian lifting the top beam of the temple, this was to thank the Indian community their help in the construction.

It is absolutely stunning and highly decorative, and painted in vivid colours with much red and gold of course. It is constructed from stone, tiles and wood with dragons and phoenixes, stunning and intricate sculputres and carvings. Everywhere you turn and look there is colour and you see something different each time you look.

Although the main temple is Taoist there is another temple to the back which is dedicated to Kuan Yin, the bodhisattva of mercy; this is a Buddhist temple.

As you enter from the street through the grand entrance you step over a high step guarded by Tigers , Lions and Door Gods which are sentinels in all Taoist temples.

The side entrance gate is again brightly coloured and decorated with tiles of roses, peacocks and the Buddhist swastika, these represent eternity, good luck and immortality.

You enter into the main temple which has the shrine of Ma Zu Po. Either side of this are two further courtyards and pagodas. the one on the left is a shrine to Confucius and the one on the right contains the ancesteral tablets of the Chinese immigrants who founded the temple.

Thian Hock Keng became a national monument in 1973 and has been restored many times over the years. The largest being in 1998 and completed in 2000. This restoration won 4 architectural awards including from UNESCO the Asia-Pacific Heritage 2001 Awards for Culture Heritage Conservation Building. During these restoration works a scroll was found hidden away in the high up beams. It is believed to have been written by the Qing emperor Guang Xu in 1907 blessing the Chinese community.

Thian Hock Keng is truly stunning and conveys such a feeling of calm within its walls. I could of stayed there all day.

The temple is open Mon - Sat  08:30 -18:00. Admission is free. This is truly worth a visit.

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