Thian Hock Keng Temple in Chinatown


Thian Hock Keng Temple in Chinatown, the "Temple of Heavenly Happiness" is one of the oldest and perhaps the most important Fukien or Hoklo temple in Singapore. The main temple is for Taoist goddess of the sea and protector of seamen and the temple at the back of Thian Hock Keng Temple in Chinatown is a Buddhist one which celebrates the power of Kuan Yin, the bodhisattva of mercy. The history of Thian Hock Keng Temple in Chinatown is quite interesting and it can be traced back to 1819. Chinese immigrants used to come to Singapore by crossing South China Sea after Singapore was made a trading port by the British.

Founder:A "joss house" was built in 1821- 1822 for thanking the goddess for their safe journey. In 1842 the joss house was replaced by Thian Hock Keng Temple in Chinatown. Thian Hock Keng was set up with the purpose of running a school and community center within the temple. Successful business men who were grateful to the goddess contributed to the renovation costs. After the completion of the new construction, a statue of Ma Cho Po was brought from China and was placed in the main prayer hall.

The construction is very much Chinese in its use and application of timber, stone columns, Chinese junks, mosaic pieces on the temple roof to create bird feathers, dragon scales and flower petals, and broken pieces of pottery and cutlery from ships. Thian Hock Keng in Chinatown was recognized as a national monument of Singapore on 6th July 1973 and apart from this recognition, the temple received calligraphic panel from Guang Xu, the Emperor of China of the Qing Dynasty. Thian Hock Keng in Chinatown resembles the architectural style of Southern China with a grand entrance and a high step in front. Tiled portrayals of peacocks, roses and the Buddhist Swastika in green and brown representing good luck, eternity and immortality enhance the brightness of the side entrance. Th entrance is followed by two courtyards and then comes the main temple of Thian Hock Keng in Chinatown. The main temple has pagodas on the left, the shrine of Confucius and ancestral tablets of the founders on its right side.

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