The diversity within George Town’s Buddhist community is reflected in the Chinese, Thai and Burmese Temples. The decorative architecture, sculptures and brightly coloured art works make these eye-catching temples a pleasure to explore.
Arriving in George Town
I flew into George Town from Singapore. Direct flights are also available within Malaysia and Indonesia.
There is a road bridge that connects Penang to mainland Malaysia. The bridge makes it possible to drive or catch a bus service from Singapore or Kuala Lumpur.
Getting to the temples
The temples are located on the outskirts of George Town. The Chinese Buddhist Temple is near Penang Hill thirukadaiyur.
The Thai and Burmese Temples are next door to each other on the opposite side of George Town.
The best way to see all three temples and Penang Hill is to join a tour group.
Chinese Buddhist Temple (Kek Lok Si)
The first thing you see when you approach Kek Lok Si is a giant bronze statue of the Goddess of Mercy (Kuan Yin). Kek Lok Si is the largest Buddhist temple in Penang. The temple is surrounded by gardens, pagodas, pavilions, fish ponds, shrines and numerous statues.
The temple is a profusion of colours as far as the eye can see. Symbols of the Chinese Zodiac abound. Creatures of the zodiac adorn garden benches and line the paths.
The temple compound is on the side of a steep hill. A novel glass elevator connects the buildings at the top of the compound with those at the bottom.
The temple is frequented by devotees and tourists alike. Shrines are adorned in brightly coloured prayer flags. Smokey incense gently wafts silent prayers towards the sky.
Thai Sleeping Buddha Temple (Wat Chayamangkalaram)
The Sleeping Buddha Temple was built in 1845. The land for the temple was granted to the Thai community by Queen Victoria. The temple contains an enormous statue of Sleeping Buddha draped in a golden robe. The statute is around 33 metres in length.
The temple is a memorial to members of the Thai community. Photographs adorn the walls. The temple is filled with niches containing the ashes of devotees.
People move quietly around the temple making their devotions with a solemn air. The sombre prayers a sharp contrast to the brightly coloured decorations surrounding the tombs.
The temple courtyard is filled with dragons and pavilions trimmed in gold. The toothy grins of the dragons greet you as you approach the door.
Burmese Standing Buddha Temple (Dhammikarama)
The Burmese Standing Buddha Temple is filled with mythical figures and Buddhist icons.
Inside the temple you will find many statues of standing Buddha, monks offering blessings and devotees bowed in silent prayer. Candles, flowers and incense adorn the shrines.
This is a beautiful and peaceful complex. A stroll through the gardens will bring you to a pagoda and a pond full of carp.
There is a large wall mural of depicting the journey of Siddhartha. Toss a coin into pool in front of the mural and make a wish. The coins thrown into the pond are donated to the temple.