Ipoh in the state of Perak has upwards 30 cave temples, thanks to its early Chinese settlers that carved much of the city’s modern history. With only hours to spend in Ipoh, we visited one of the most popular and most visited cave temples, Perak Tong. Read more…
Perak Tong wasn’t listed in our Perak itinerary, but we had some time to spare after finishing our heritage tour of Ipoh early. Our tour guide told us how he has brought important people to the place and how they have been amazed by it.
Perak Tong or the Perak Cave Temple is a limestone cave within Gunung Tasik. A priest from Jiaoling, China named Chong Sen Yee discovered the cave in 1926 and consequently asked for permission to construct the temple from the state government. After 50 years of hard work, it has hence become one of the most beautiful cave temples in Malaysia.
Upon entering the temple, our attention was immediately caught—aside from the lingering smell of incense and the stray dogs—by the 40-foot golden sitting Buddha statue. Flanking the giant statue are four deities that serve as guardians.
Over at the right side of the temple, we saw a couple of statues that I presumed to be watching over the religious merchandise, and near them is a familiar deity with 18 arms, the Goddess of Mercy or Guan Yin that I’ve already encountered in Georgetown, Penang. Several other grottoes line the temple, where worshippers would stop individually.
At Perak Tong, deities are venerated not only in the form of statues but also colorful murals that are complemented by scripture calligraphy. Some of the work, we were told, were painted by Chong Yin Chat, the son of the elder Chong who continued his legacy.
After seeing much of the deities and murals, we had to do the inevitable—climb the many steep stairs behind the altar to the top of the cave. Under the heat, we took on the 385 steps to see a garden, a pavilion, and a breathtaking view of Ipoh.
I had hoped to spend more time in Perak Tong for reflection or meditation, but given the schedule, I already was happy and content that we were able to visit one of Ipoh’s unique and fascinating cave temples.
How to get there: From the Ipoh’s Medan Kidd Bus Terminal, take a short distance bus to Kuala Kangsar, Perak. Fare to Perak Tong is only 1.40 MYR, as it is merely around six kilometers from Ipoh’s city center. Fee to get into the cave for foreigners is 10 MYR.
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