From Merlion Park, we next moved on to the Chinatown area were we visited the Thian Hock Keng Temple (Temple of Heavenly Happiness), one of the oldest and most important Hokkien temples in Singapore.
Built in traditional southern Chinese architectural style from 1839-1842 by Mr Tan Tock Seng and Mr Si Hoo Keh, it was visited by Chinese immigrants giving thanks to Ma Chu P’oh or Ma Zu (the Chinese Goddess of the Sea) for their safe voyage. The temple replaced a humble joss house established here in 1821 by Hokkien immigrants from Amoy (China). In 1973, it was gazetted as a National Monument.
This architectural masterpiece of stone, tiles and wood, assembled without nails, is embellished with dragons and phoenixes, amazing carvings, intricate sculptures and imposing columns.
Granite tablets on the wall inside the Entrance Hall record the details of the temple’s history. There is also a plaque, presented by Qing Dynasty Emperor Guang Xu in 1907, inscribed with the words Bo Jing Nan Ming (Gentle Waves over the South Seas), evidence of the temple’s stature.
- Thian Hock Kieng Temple: Telok Ayer St., Singapore.