Monday, 3 August 2015

Bright Hill monastery and temple complex

Kong Meng San Phor Kark Soo

Sitting on a large flat expanse of ground on what was once a Chinese cemetery, whose graves had long been exhumed, can be found the largest Buddhist monastery in Singapore, covering 75,470 square metres or the equivalent of 10.7 football pitches.

Kong Meng San Phor Kark Soo was founded in 1921 by the venerable monk Sik Zhuan Deo. In those days it was in the middle of a rubber plantation at Kong Meng San, which means Bright Hill in Chinese, giving its more modern and simpler name of Bright Hill monastery. It was the first traditional Chinese forest temple in Singapore. How different to how it appears now, there's no sign of a forest these days, apart from a forest of residential buildings. 

It is built in a typical Chinese style with a mixture of SE Asian design. Since its founding in 1921 it has grown rapidly with many additions and renovations. In 1947 the crematorium and columbarium was completed and in 1978 the Dharma Hall was finished. Due for completion this year is the new college for the monks which is estimated to have cost S$35 million. 

At the back of the complex sits the ever busy columbarium and crematorium. When we visited it was so busy, with several services going on at once whilst others waited, almost factory conveyor belt in method, with the monks moving from one group of mourners to the next. 


Within it's grounds are numerous buildings and you can, as I did, spend several hours wandering around taking it all in. Architecturally magnificent, with great angles and bright vibrant colours. Amongst the buildings you can't fail to miss the Pagoda of 10,000 Buddhas. This gold stupor topped pagoda is home to the Medicine Buddha and surrounded by 9,999 small Buddhas. 

Within the Venerable Hong Choon memorial hall, home to the kitchen and many other rooms you must take a look at the Hall of No Form, sitting at the far end of a large hall that will seat 2,000 people is a giant bronze Buddha, made in Taiwan and weighing 55 tons and seated 13.8 metres tall above it lotus flower base - magnificent!

Hong Choon memorial Hall
The Hall of No Form

You can also visit the Hall of Great Strength and the Hall of Compassion with its many armed Guanyin Bodhisattva. The arms reaching out to all guiding them to true happiness and Nirvana 

Hall of Compassion 

There's some great images that can been seen throughout this complex

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