Penang holds the record of having the largest Buddhist Temple, constructed in 1893, with a vast expanse of built-up area spread over a 12-hectare piece of land on a rocky incline. This is the most-visited and most-photographed Kek Lok Si or Temple of Supreme Bliss, located on a hillock in Ayer Itam, about 20 minutes’ drive from George Town.
The most magnificent building in Kek Lok Si is Pagoda of Rama VI or Pagoda of 10,000 Buddhas. The foundation stone of the pagoda was laid by the Thai monarch himself. The pagoda has a Chinese-influenced octagonal base, middle tiers of Thai architecture and a Burmese-styled crown.
Within the temple complex is a 30-metre bronze statue of Guan Yin, numerous prayer halls, a library of Buddhist scriptures and sutras and hostel blocks. There are also sacred ponds, numerous landscaped gardens, a souvenir shop and a vegetarian restaurant.
While it is a must for devotees, visitors – both locals and foreigners – shouldn’t miss visiting the temple for its sheer size and architectural beauty.