Situated strategically on a sprawling hill, Kek Lok Si Temple is known as the jewel in the crown of heritage temples in Penang, Malaysia, and has been identified as one of the largest and finest temple complexes in Southeast Asia.
The scenic view of the hills outside the temple complements the temple’s exquisitely designed rooflines and exotic pullars, further enhancing the picturesque facade of the Kek Lok Si Buddhist Monastery.
The millions magnificent images of Buddha and the hundreds of beautiful meaningful carvings, sculptures and murals in the interior and exterior of the temple halls, pagodas and archways are heritage treasures of Buddhist civilization.
The temple complex also features many magnificent buildings and interesting sites that have historic value. The buildings have been constructed along intricate architectural lines; sine resemble famous Buddhist temples in China, whilst others are unique in themselves, reflecting the Kek Lok Si’s own style of creative innovation.
In 1930, the seven stories main pagoda of the temple or the Pagoda of "Ban Po Thar", the Ten Thousand Buddhas, a 30 metres high structure, was completed. This pagoda combines a Chinese octagonal base with a middle tier of Thai design, and a Burmese crown; reflecting the temple's amalgam of both Mahayana and Theravada Buddhism. It represents syncretism of the ethnic and religious diversity in the country. There is a large statue of Buddha donated by King Bhumibol of Thailand diefied here. King Rama VI of Thailand laid the foundation for the pagoda and it is hence also named as Rama Pagoda.
In 2002, a 30.2-metre bronze statue of Guanyin, the Goddess of Mercy, was completed and opened to the public. It replaced the previous white plaster Kuan Yin statue which was damaged due to a fire a few years earlier. The bronze statue is located on the hillside above the pagoda. The statue is complemented with a 60.9 metres three-tiered roof pavilion which was completed in 2009. It is currently the tallest Guanyin statue in the world.
Kek Lok Si is known not only for the beauty of its historic buildings, which attract thousands of tourists every year, but also for being a center for Chinese culture and Buddhist teaching. It is hoped that further dissemination of Buddhist knowledge will be conducted in Kek Lok Si, a center par excellence in Buddhist education, bring about better understanding and practices of Buddhist teachings to help create a more harmonious world.