Our next visit in Melaka was to an area known as “Harmony Street” because, here, various religious groups have their temples and mosques… religious tolerance existed here long before the founding of modern Malaysia.
First stop was at the ‘Siang Lin Shi Temple‘ (sometimes spelt Xiang) where there were very few other tourists. It doesn’t seem to be on the main tourist menu of ‘things to do’ in Melaka… maybe because it’s new and rather austere in contrast to the older, much more ornate temples. But it’s really a special little gem of a place to visit. Originally it was just a traditional Malay wooden “kampung” house built on stilts or piles. In 1985, it was rebuilt in brick to be this simple two floored Buddhist temple with few decorations. A sign noted that only nuns live here and only females work here.
In front of the main entrance there are three, well used incense burners.
There were photos here just begging to be taken… and so I obliged!
And another one!
On entering the temple, you’re greeted by the laughing Buddha, Maytreiya Buddha. The name means friendly, amicable, benevolent, affectionate and, certainly, this rather unusual Buddha statue can’t help but bring a smile to your face… it just oozes with joy!
Further inside, the temple was all but silent, giving a sense of calm and serenity. This temple follows Mahayāna Buddhism, one of the three main branches of Buddhism, the others being Theravāda and Vairayāna Buddhism. The cool, dark, rather stark interior is given a lift by bright red banners, each one adorned in stylish calligraphy.
I don’t know what they mean, but each section of this banner is a work of art.
Up on the second floor there’s a bell, also adorned in calligraphy, and a drum. These, I understand, are used before evening prayers. However, neither the bell nor the drum broke the silence while we were there.
The balcony of the second floor was a good spot to look out over the neighbouring area.
Another view down along the “Harmony Street”area.
Some of the roof decorations attracted my attention…so I zoomed right in on this one.
Leaving the Buddhist Temple, we walked to the nearby Taoist temple, Cheng Hoon Teng. This much more ornate temple upholds the principles of all three major Chinese religions equally — Taoism, Confucianism, and Buddhism. Built in 1645, this is said to be the oldest Chinese Temple in Malaysia. It has, of course, undergone restoration since then and in 2003 was awarded a UNESCO award for outstanding architectural restoration. Here there were many more visitors and many more roof decorations to photograph.
This fascinating roof sculpture was none too peaceful! But it was colourful.
The roof was a feast of wonderful colour and sculptural creativity!
One wall mural portrayed marvellous creatures from the deep.
One young visitor made friends with a ‘lion-dragon’!
I can’t help myself when I see unusual door knobs.
One section of this three religion temple was devoted to a Buddhist shrine… so much more ornate than the newer Siang Lin Shi Temple we had just visited across the road.
Detail of one of the delicately carved ivory murals above the shrine.
Detail of some of the gilded carved wood representing the lotus plant.
And amongst all of this decoration was a stack of rice sacks!
Those rice sacks did look a little incongruous in this ornate, gilded sanctuary!
Back out in the courtyard, there were pots containing heavily laden cumquat trees.
They looked so tempting… but I guess it’s just not done to take a temple fruit!
It was time to move on and explore more of Melaka on those trishaws as we wended our way back to the hotel.
We had dinner at a nearby restaurant and ended up at the Hard Rock Cafe where we celebrated the three birthdays that occurred during the trip. It was a choice of cocktails or beer! Beer for me…I’m not into cocktails. In the end, we were driven out of the place by the incredibly loud music emanating from the live band. It was 22.15 by the time we walked back to the hotel and fell wearily into bed. It had been a long day.
All photographs copyright © JT and DY of jtdytravels
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