Amongst the many cultural attractions you will discover in the historic and iconic town of George Town, Malaysia, the Wat Chaiya Mangkalaram Temple is an important cultural enclave that simply demands to be explored further.
Nestling on five acres gifted to the Thai community by Her Majesty Queen Victoria in order to foster harmonious relations between Thailand and Britain, the impressive temple complex saw its genesis in 1845. Since then, this spiritual abode of some of the most enchanting Buddhist relics and statues has grown to glorious proportions.
As soon as one walks through the ornately decorated archway, one is immediately transported into a place and time that completely transcends the twentieth century; such is the beauty and grandeur presented at this awe-inspiring site. The expansive grounds boast a host of mythical beings and religious icons, rendered in stone of course, to add to the air of mysticism that pervades these unique surroundings.
You will stop short as you approach the primary temple, as two fierce beings sporting an impressive long sword will urge caution to the unwary visitor. If that does not force you to think twice about your motivations for entering the complex, the two undulating dragons flanking the entrance with definitely stop you dead in your tracks. Dragons and serpents enjoy a place of distinction in Eastern mythology, as they are regarded as guardians and spiritual protectors of the earthly realm.
An interesting titbit about the temple is that its first monk in residence was a Theradava Buddhist by the name of Phorthan Kuat, which translated to “Powerful Monk”. Legend has it that he was immensely fond of a local broth called the “laksa”, and devotees continue to grace his shrine with offerings of the flavourful concoction.
When you finally enter the main temple, you will be greeted by the immense statue of the Buddha in his famous recumbent pose, signifying that his eternal attainment of enlightenment was almost upon him. This splendid statue goes by the name of Phra Chaiya Mongkol, and it measures a stunning 33 metres in length (or 108 feet). This supreme rendering was fashioned in 1958 to commemorate the 2,500th anniversary of the Buddha’s birth, at a cost of MYR 100,000. The magnificent Reclining Buddha is ringed by a collection of seated Buddha statues as well as gold-encrusted statues of the monk. The temple in its entirety is a resplendent testament to Buddhism and is a unique feature in a country that identifies itself as a Muslim nation.
Round out your cultural tour of the country when you choose to check into a stylish Penang hotel that is nestled in one of the most culturally vibrant areas of Malaysia. Consider Copthorne Orchid Hotel Penang as a possible host for your stay here. The elegant interiors and gracious hospitality at this quality Tanjung Bungah hotel Penang has to offer visitors make it an attractive accommodation choice.
Chandrishan Williams is a travel writer who writes under the pen name, Caleb Falcon. He specializes in writing content based on the many exciting world adventures that await intrepid travellers. Google+