Malaysia’s most spec­tac­u­lar places of wor­ship

Be it tem­ples, mosques or churches, Malaysia plays host to some of the re­gion’s most im­pres­sive re­li­gious sites. San­deep Dhanoa scours the coun­try for the most spec­tac­u­lar places of wor­ship

Time Out Malaysia Visitors Guide - - CONTENTS -

Kek Lok Si, Pe­nang

Set on the Air Itam hill­top, the spec­tac­u­lar Kek Lok Si is Malaysia's largest Bud­dhist tem­ple. The tem­ple's mas­sive com­plex con­sists of the tem­ple grounds, the cen­tre point and the hill­top. Walk through the main en­trance and past the tur­tle pond and stalls sell­ing sou­venirs and snacks to the tem­ple’s cen­tre, which con­tains the pagoda and the Four Heav­enly Kings pav­il­ion. Mean­while, the iconic Kuan Yin statue and beau­ti­ful gar­dens can be found on the hill­top.

Built in 1890 by Ven­er­a­ble Beow Lean, the tem­ple has tran­scended its hum­ble ori­gins to be­come a na­tional icon. In 1891, the ear­li­est build­ing of this tem­ple was com­pleted, the Hall of Bod­hisattvas, fol­lowed by the con­struc­tion of the Hall of Devas, the Hall of De­vawira and the Tower of Sa­cred Books. Sub­se­quently, Ven­er­a­ble Beow Lean was then cer­e­mo­ni­ously in­stalled as the Chief Priest of Kek Lok Si dur­ing a visit to China. In ad­di­tion, he was also pre­sented with sev­eral hand­writ­ten scripts and relics that be­longed to the Em­peror. Th­ese metic­u­lous writ­ings are now proudly dis­played at the Hall of De­vawira and at the arch­way of the spec­tac­u­lar 100-foot tall Pagoda of Rama VI, which show­cases an ex­quis­ite com­bi­na­tion of Chi­nese, Thai and Burmese ar­chi­tec­ture. This mag­nif­i­cent con­struc­tion in­cor­po­rates a Chi­nese oc­tag­o­nal base, a mid­dle tier of Thai de­sign and a Burmese crown with stat­ues of Bud­dha at its peak.

Also known as the Tem­ple of Supreme Bliss, Kek Lok Si ac­com­mo­dates a mon­u­men­tal bronze statue of Kuan Yin, the God­dess of Mercy, at its peak. Stand­ing at 30.2 me­ters tall, the statue is un­doubt­edly one of Pe­nang’s most prom­i­nent land­marks.

Christ Church, Malacca

Un­doubt­edly one of Malacca’s most sig­nif­i­cant land­marks, Christ Church was built by Dutch con­querors in 1753 to re­place the age­ing St Paul's Church or Bovenkerk.

Orig­i­nally painted white, the church and the neigh­bour­ing Stadthuys were re­painted their trade­mark brick-red colour in 1753. Its rec­tan­gu­lar plan, mas­sive walls and Dutch-tiled roofs are typ­i­cal of 18th cen­tury Dutch ar­chi­tec­ture. In­side, plaques hon­our fallen Dutch and lo­cal sol­diers. Don't forget to look down - bizarrely, the floors are paved with tomb­stones which bear or­nate Por­tugue­sein­spired carv­ings. In ad­di­tion, the church bell fea­tures an in­scrip­tion that mys­te­ri­ously dates back to 1698, fu­elling spec­u­la­tion that the bell served an­other pur­pose prior to the com­ple­tion of this spec­tac­u­lar church.

Pu­tra Mosque, Putrajaya

Over­look­ing the picturesque Putrajaya Lake and lo­cated within the same vicin­ity as the Prime Min­is­ter’s of­fice, Pu­tra Mosque is cer­tainly Putrajaya’s most dis­tinc­tive land­mark. Cov­er­ing an es­ti­mated 1.37 hectares, this mas­sive com­plex ac­com­mo­dates up to 15,000 wor­ship­pers at any one time. Named af­ter the na­tion’s very first Prime Min­is­ter, Tunku Ab­dul Rah­man Pu­tra Al-Haj, this mosque was built in 1997 and its doors opened on 1 Septem­ber 1999, be­fore it was handed over to the Depart­ment of Is­lamic De­vel­op­ment Malaysia (JAKIM).

The most prom­i­nent fea­ture of this mosque is its spec­tac­u­lar pink dome, which is pri­mar­ily made from rose-tinted gran­ite. In ad­di­tion, Pu­tra Mosque plays host to three main func­tion ar­eas, an el­e­gant prayer hall, a scenic court­yard and sev­eral multi-pur­pose func­tion rooms. Its prayer hall is sup­ported by 12 pil­lars and em­bel­lished with in­tri­cate de­signs and ar­chi­tec­ture, with the high­est point be­ing a stag­ger­ing 250 feet above ground level. Fur­ther­more, the panoramic court­yard is adorned with sev­eral wa­ter fea­tures that breathe seren­ity and calm­ness. Not to be left be­hind, its im­pos­ing minaret was in­flu­enced by that of the Sheikh Omar Mosque of Bagh­dad, and stands at 116 me­tres, ac­com­mo­dat­ing five tiers that sym­bol­ise the Five Pil­lars of Is­lam. Hence, it’s with­out a shadow of doubt that Pu­tra mosque is one of the re­gion’s most iconic Is­lamic mon­u­ments.

Batu Caves, KL

Set away from KL’s con­crete jun­gle and among ma­jes­tic 400-mil­lion-yearold lime­stone hill caves, Batu Caves is ar­guably one of Malaysia’s most pop­u­lar re­li­gious sights. K Tham­boosamy Pil­lai, an In­dian trader, de­cided to pro­mote the caves as a sa­cred lo­ca­tion for Hin­dus from all walks of life when he no­ticed that the cave open­ing mir­rors the shape of the vel, the divine spear of the war god Lord Mu­ru­gan.

Named af­ter the Sun­gai Batu (Batu River) that flows past the caves, this divine place of wor­ship plays host to a jaw-drop­ping set of 272 con­crete steps lead­ing up to the main en­trance of the cave sys­tem. The big­gest of th­ese caves is the Tem­ple or Cathe­dral Cave, which serves as the main prayer area with sev­eral Hindu shrines be­neath its 100-me­tre high arched ceil­ing. Mean­while, the other caves ac­com­mo­date an art gallery and a mu­seum cave that pays homage to Lord Mu­ru­gan’s glo­ri­ous vic­tory against the de­mon Soora­pad­man. In 2006, a mon­u­men­tal 140-foot statue of Lord Mu­ru­gan, the tallest of its kind in the world, was placed at the en­trance of this sa­cred ground. In ad­di­tion, Batu Caves un­der­lines its im­por­tance to the Malaysian In­dian com­mu­nity as the tem­ples in its com­plex are man­aged by the Board of Man­age­ment of Sri Maha Mari­amman Tem­ple Dev­asthanam, which rep­re­sents the old­est Hindu tem­ple in KL and acts as the Hindu Re­li­gious Con­sul­tant to the Gov­ern­ment of Malaysia in de­ter­min­ing the Hindu yearly cal­en­dar.

Crys­tal Mosque, Tereng­ganu

Set in Wan Man Is­land, this im­pres­sive mosque is one of South­east Asia’s most spec­tac­u­lar places of wor­ship and was con­structed be­tween 2006 and 2008 by the Sul­tan of Tereng­ganu, Sul­tan Mizan Zainal Abidin. Stand­ing along­side repli­cas of the world’s most sig­nif­i­cant Is­lamic mon­u­ments in Tereng­ganu’s 250 mil­lion ring­git Is­lamic Her­itage Park, the Crys­tal Mosque is un­doubt­edly one of Malaysia’s most iconic re­li­gious sites.

Tereng­ganu’s jewel plays host to four ma­jes­tic minarets that act as a trade­mark of clas­sic Is­lamic ar­chi­tec­ture. In ad­di­tion, a mam­moth crys­tal chan­de­lier serves as the cen­tre­piece in the main prayer hall which ac­com­mo­dates 1,500 wor­shipers. Nev­er­the­less, the main ap­peal of this mosque is un­doubt­edly the sublime use of crys­tals

in its in­te­rior and ex­te­rior ar­chi­tec­ture, as al­most the en­tire struc­ture was built us­ing crys­tal and steel ma­te­ri­als. Fur­ther­more, come night­fall, the en­chant­ing dis­play of vi­va­cious light­ing trans­forms this mosque into a spec­ta­cle that is truly a sight to be­hold. As the ic­ing on the cake, this mosque sticks true to its mod­ern con­cept as it is the na­tion’s very first ‘in­tel­li­gent mosque’, with the en­tire build­ing equipped with WiFi ac­cess and built in IT fa­cil­i­ties.

Arul­migu Sri Ra­jakaliamman Glass Tem­ple, Jo­hor

Founded in 1922 as a sim­ple shel­ter on land that was pro­vided by the Sul­tan, this is one of the old­est tem­ples in Malaysia’s southern state of Jo­hor. In 1996, Arul­migu Sri Ra­jakaliamman was re­built and of­fi­cially opened, cour­tesy of Guru Bha­gawan Sit­tar, the tem­ple chair­man, chief priest and driv­ing force be­hind this place of wor­ship af­ter in­her­it­ing it as a mod­est hut in 1991. Fol­low­ing a trip to Bangkok in which a fas­ci­nat­ing glass tem­ple had caught his keen eye, Guru Bha­gawan Sit­tar was in­spired to build a mag­nif­i­cent glass tem­ple in Jo­hor’s own back­yard. Con­struc­tion of this iconic place of wor­ship was com­pleted in Oc­to­ber 2009.

The Athma Lingam sanc­tu­ary acts as a cen­tre­piece to this hum­ble es­tab­lish­ment, play­ing host to Lord Shiva’s lo­tus. Here, devo­tees can be seen per­form­ing rit­u­als that are of­ten ac­com­pa­nied by the pour­ing of pure rose wa­ter into the lo­tus. This unique sanc­tu­ary is de­signed with

rudrak­sha beads that have been im­ported from Nepal, each one ac­com­pa­nied with a prayer prior to em­bed­ding it into the walls. In ad­di­tion, this tem­ple is il­lu­mi­nated with the re­flec­tion of lights from crys­tal chan­de­liers as well as an as­sem­blage of blue, white, yel­low and pur­ple mo­saic glass. Arul­migu Sri Ra­jakaliamman also fea­tures sev­eral beau­ti­ful mar­ble stat­ues of var­i­ous re­li­gious fig­ures, in­clud­ing Mother Teresa, Gau­tama Bud­dha and Sri Guru Nanak Dev Ji. Fur­ther­more, this tem­ple also ac­com­mo­dates an ar­ray of gold-fin­ished sculp­tures, al­to­gether sym­bol­is­ing the cy­cle of life, from the joy of a new­born to the mourn­ing of death.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Malaysia

© PressReader. All rights reserved.