Kek Lok Si Temple | Air Itam, Penang, Malaysia

by Samuel on July 1, 2012

When I first feasted my eyes upon Kek Lok Si Temple ( 极乐寺: the temple of supreme bliss) I knew this was something unlike anything I had ever seen before in my life. As the largest Buddhist temple in all of South East Asia, the massive complex looms large even from distant vantage points.

Traditional Chinese culture and rituals correspond harmoniously with Mahayana Buddhism in this imposing complex. With support of Chinese consulars the temple was built in 1890 inspired the Goddess of Mercy. What’s fascinating today is that the complex continues to expand fuelled chiefly by donations from wealthy Chinese patrons.

Although the temple is a feast for the eyes it is impossible not to mention how over-commercialized it is in certain sections during the holidays. One can literally at times feel as though they’re in a shopping centre more than a sacred place of worship; however, there are areas where one avoid the hustle and bustle.  Also, it’s recommended to book your hotel in Penang in advance for the high season (December to February).

The following is a photo essay capturing Kek Lok Si from a variety of different vantage points throughout the complex:

Burning incense sticks with colourful paper lanterns blurred out in the background.

Burning incense sticks with colourful paper lanterns blurred out in the background.

An upwards perspective shot of a Buddha's hand.

An upwards perspective shot of a Buddha’s hand.

Colourful red Chinese characters engraved into the rock.

Colourful red Chinese characters engraved into the rock.

A profile shot of Buddha's face.

A profile shot of Buddha’s face.

Colourful paper lanterns with Chinese characters.

Colourful paper lanterns with Chinese characters.

A lady down on her knees praying.

A lady down on her knees praying.

An imposing sculpture looms large in the background.

An imposing sculpture looms large in the background.

Ornamental glass decorations lined up in a row.

Ornamental glass decorations lined up in a row.

Distinct Facial sculptures on the wall.

Distinct Facial sculptures on the wall.

An imposing sculpture with a very distinct facial expression.

An imposing sculpture with a very distinct facial expression.

A Pavilion overlooking a scenic area.

A Pavilion overlooking a scenic area.

An intricate staircase leading up to a temple

An intricate staircase leading up to a temple

A shot of the colourful rooftop.

A shot of the colourful rooftop.

A close up shot of a Buddhist face.

A close up shot of a Buddhist face.

A gate offering scenic views of the city below.

A gate offering scenic views of the city below.

A shot of the waterfall crashing down with fish nearby.

A shot of the waterfall crashing down with fish nearby.

Chinese characters.

Chinese characters.

A gorgeous pathway with lovely scenery and trees.

A gorgeous pathway with lovely scenery and trees.

A turtle competing for space in a crowded pool of water.

A turtle competing for space in a crowded pool of water.

{ 26 comments… read them below or add one }

Laurence July 1, 2012 at 3:32 pm

Amazing photos as always Samuel. And a new blog?! How do you find the time 😉

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Nomadic Samuel July 18, 2012 at 9:10 am

Thanks Laurence! I have no idea…LOL I’m the most time poor person in the universe now 😛

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Natalie July 2, 2012 at 3:41 am

Fab photos as always. Congrats on the new site as well. Are you taking speed to be able to keep up with them all? 😉

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Nomadic Samuel July 18, 2012 at 9:26 am

Thanks Natalie!

With the amount of sites I now run I had better take something even stronger 😛

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Bodlagz July 2, 2012 at 5:23 am

Looks like an interesting place Sam, I believe the imposing female sculpture in one of the photos is “Guan Yin”.

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Nomadic Samuel July 18, 2012 at 9:25 am

Indeed, very interesting! Thanks for clarification on that 🙂

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Andrew July 2, 2012 at 6:25 am

Seems to be the time for the new sites. My wife and I started our new one a few weeks ago. Love the close up pictures of stuff.

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Nomadic Samuel July 18, 2012 at 9:25 am

Thanks Andrew! Exciting times for us all with the new sites 🙂

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Brock - Backpack With Brock July 2, 2012 at 4:32 pm

Awesome photos and congrats on the new site!

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Nomadic Samuel July 18, 2012 at 9:24 am

Thanks Brock! Much appreciated mate 🙂

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Natasha von Geldern July 3, 2012 at 1:17 am

I remember Kek Lok Si, particularly the thousands of little Buddhas and the turtles 🙂 Really stunning photos here!

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Nomadic Samuel July 18, 2012 at 9:24 am

Thanks Natasha! It’s hard to forget all the turtles!

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Kristen J. - Hopscotch the Globe July 3, 2012 at 2:48 pm

Great photos. Very beautiful. Makes me miss Malaysia. I only made it to KL and Taman Negara. Would love to see Malaysia Borneo and explore more of the other side as well. I was at the Batu Caves for Thaipusam and it was really amazing. Here’s a video of my time there: http://hopscotchtheglobe.com/2011/01/29/thaipusam-hindu-festival-at-the-batu-caves-in-kuala-lumpur-malaysia/

Look forward to more posts by you.

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Nomadic Samuel July 18, 2012 at 9:19 am

Great video Kristen! I always went to the Batu Caves. I’ve never seen so many monkeys drink Cola before! LOL

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Travel and Escape Community July 3, 2012 at 2:49 pm

Great photos. You captured Malaysia very nicely.

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Nomadic Samuel July 18, 2012 at 9:16 am

Thank you! Malaysia is a great country to visit IMO 🙂

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Shane July 4, 2012 at 12:56 am

Great shots. I didn’t realise we’d been there until I recognised the temple from your photos. I’d long forgotten the name of the place, instead, somewhat disrespectfully, remembering it as the Nazi Buddha Turtle Temple. Though I knew from an episode of The Night Stalker (the things you learn from late night TV) that Hitler appropriated the symbol from eastern religion it still came as a bit of a shock to witness a line of swastika toting Buddha statues.

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Nomadic Samuel July 18, 2012 at 9:12 am

LOL, that’s certainly one way to remember the place 😛 I’ve never seen a place with so many turtles before!

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Steve July 9, 2012 at 2:31 am

Beautiful photos as always. We went to Kek Lok Si during the Chinese New Year Period, when the whole place is lit up.

http://yourenotfromaroundhere.com/blog/kek-lok-si-during-chinese-new-year-penang-malaysia/

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Nomadic Samuel July 18, 2012 at 9:11 am

Wow! That must have been quite something Steve!

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Cheryl July 10, 2012 at 7:42 am

Congrats on your new site! Love the photos, especially the first one with the burning incense.

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Nomadic Samuel July 18, 2012 at 9:10 am

Thanks Cheryl!

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Montecristo Travels August 3, 2012 at 2:20 pm

Photo Essay – what an amazing and wonderful idea … and you have the talent for it.

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Nomadic Samuel August 7, 2012 at 5:56 am

Thanks, I enjoy doing photo essays.

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Mary - Green Global Travel August 18, 2012 at 4:40 pm

Great photos. I thought is was interesting that you choose to shot so many detailed photos on the largest temple in SE Asia.

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Nomadic Samuel August 20, 2012 at 12:25 am

Thanks Mary, it was hard for me to put my camera down. It’s quite a fascinating place to visit.

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