02 May THIS TEMPLE HAS SURVIVED NUMEROUS THREATS THROUGHOUT GEORGE TOWN’S HISTORY
One of the many attractions in George Town’s Heritage Zone is the Kong Hock Keong Temple, or Goddess of Mercy Temple as it is popularly known among its devotees, located on Jalan Masjid Kapitan Keling. It lies on the same stretch of road as the St. George’s Anglican Church, the Kapitan Keling Mosque, as well as an entrance of the famed Khoo Kongsi clan house.
The Kong Hock Keong Temple was built in the early 1800s by early Chinese settlers of Hokkien and Cantonese descent – making it perhaps the oldest Chinese temple in George Town – and lies just off Chulia Street. The temple is regarded as an important place of worship among the Penang Chinese community, as the presence of incense via joss sticks that fills up its entrance would indicate.
While the temple has a relatively simple architectural design, there is much to appreciate, both of its facade as well as within its walls. Intricate carvings adorn the nooks and crannies around the temple. Interestingly, most of the temple has not been retrofitted as a pure tourist attraction like the nearby Khoo Kongsi; so for one to step into the temple is akin to going back in time to the days of yore. Walking along the beautifully decorated walkways and interiors, you will see devotees coming and going as they provide offerings for their deities. The main shrine lies in the temple’s centre, as does a space for worshippers to provide lit candles and other offerings to the Goddess of Mercy.
As the temple itself has survived numerous significant threats throughout George Town’s history – such as a bomb drop during World War II, fires and even a grenade attack – its popularity still endures in the present day, and it enjoys a reputation as one of George Town’s, and Penang’s, notable points of interest.