If you stand at the entrance of the Thian Hock Keng Temple and look outwards, it's hard to believe that this temple was once by the sea. In front of the temple today is the city's business hub. Premium Singapore real estate. And the tall skyscrapers that look down on the temple are actually standing on reclaimed land!
But more than 100 years ago, the Thian Hock Keng Temple was a beach-front temple. It was the first stop for grateful Chinese immigrants who have survived the difficult voyage from Southern China. Here, they burned joss-sticks and gave thanks to Ma Zu (å¦ˆç¥–), the goddess of the sea.
The Thian Hock Keng Temple started humbly in 1821 as a wooden joss house. But it was immensely important to the early Chinese community. Thus began a huge fund raising project to rebuild it in the 1830s.
The local Chinese community gave generously to build this temple. Premium wood and granite were imported from China for it construction. Some of the best craftsmen from Southern China were also recruited to work on the temple. The result? A beautiful temple with intrincate carvings, a fine example of traditional Southern Chinese architecture.
In 1998, when the temple was being restored, builders found a scroll stowed away in one of the roof beams. It was written by no less than the Qing emperor Guang Xu, who pronouced his blessings on the Chinese community here. Imagine this. Even the Chinese emperor has left his imprint on this temple!
Take the following photo tour of the temple. It'll make your visit there more meaningful.