One of the most popular (and most beautiful!) Chinese temples in Kuala Lumpur is Thean Hou Temple, dedicated to the Heavenly Mother or Thean Hou Mo. Built in the 1980s, the sprawling complex is still well kept – with arching orange roofs topped with dragons and phoenixes, whitewashed walls and quaint side gardens.
I’ve been here a couple of times, and the place is especially festive during Chinese New Year or religious festivities. At other times, it’s a great place to meditate in the prayer chambers or sit and admire the architecture, away from the hustle and bustle of the city. The editor and I were around the area for an assignment so I brought her for a quick visit.
The ground floor is used for functions; the main shrine is accessed by stairs. Once up, visitors are greeted by a spacious courtyard that commands a scenic view of the Kuala Lumpur skyline. Pillars written with auspicious words and blessings line one side of the compound, accentuated by vividly coloured ceilings of blue, green and gold. Clouds, phoenixes, patterns, water and dragons are common decorative motifs.
A sea of yellow lanterns.
Prayer urn where devotees can place their joss sticks.
Inside the hall, photography is allowed but visitors are required to be respectful when taking pictures. The prayer area houses three deities; namely the Heavenly Mother, Goddess of Mercy (Gwanyin) and Waterfront Goddess (Swei Mei) . Smaller deities sit at the bottom of the large golden statues, which are surrounded by prayer light towers. The walls are lined with pictures of small Bodhisattvas, donated by devotees to accumulate merits (or karma).
What I really like about the space is the ceiling. Right in the middle is this beautiful dome inlaid with blue, red and gold patterns on top of each other, with a dragon on clouds in the middle. The craftsmanship is superb – rivalling those of European churches.
Thean Hou Temple is definitely worth the visit if you’re ever in KL – for the culture, architecture and beautiful sights. Entrance is free.
THEAN HOU TEMPLE
65, Persiaran Endah, Taman Persiaran Desa, 50460 Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
Opening hours: 9am – 6pm
Since the place is on top of a hill and at a dead end, buses or trains do not service the area. Best to take a taxi or Uber.