Nestled at the foot of lush green hills about an hour and a half’s drive from KL, Broga is a sleepy hillside village with kampung houses dotted across the landscape, and shoplots clustered along the village’s only main street. In recent years, it has gained popularity as an eco-tourism destination thanks to Broga Hill, a 400-metre high hillock nearby that offers a moderately challenging hike and stunning views of the valley below.
Aside from the hill, Sak Dato Temple is the village’s other major pride and joy.
Catering to Broga’s predominantly Chinese population, Sak Dato is a Taoist/Buddhist temple with over 140 years of history. What started off as a small cave shrine built by early Chinese settlers has since transformed into a beautiful place of worship, with soaring pavilions and a star attraction: a 15-metre-tall Sun Wukong (Monkey God) statue, accessible via a suspension bridge.
Since the temple is located at the base of a hill, much of it is hidden from view when visitors first arrive. Once you enter, however, you’ll be privy to different ‘tiers’, each with its own unique structures and architecture. The first tier boasts several pavilions, a pond with fish and a Guanyin statue, and a colourful “Guanyin Hall” shrine.
Guanyin Hall houses a Guanyin deity seated within an elaborate red, gold, and blue altar, decorated with traditional motifs such as dragons, lotus flowers, clouds, and bamboo (a symbol of longevity, since bamboo is evergreen).
Missed out on a picture of the other shrine, but I believe it houses the temple’s main deity, ie Sak Dato.
Sak (or Sek) means stone in the local Chinese dialect, and apparently before the temple was built, there used to be a huge stone on the hill which people believed housed the deity, and touching it would bring good luck. I’m not sure if this stone is still around or if they’ve incorporated it into the temple’s landscaping, because there are huge stones all around lol. Of course, Chinese people being Chinese, gambling is a big part of our culture, and people still come here to pray for 4D numbers. 😛
Fun fact: In parts of Southeast Asia, especially Nusantara (Malaysia, Indonesia, and Singapore), some among the Chinese diaspora practice the worship of Na Tuk Kong, or “grandfather” – believed to be local guardian spirits. This culture stems from the ancient Confucianist-rooted traditions of venerating the land, and was brought over when the Chinese immigrated to the region.
Interestingly, the worship of local penunggu (guardian spirits) was first practiced in the region by Malays; as in the past, they venerated real people that have contributed significantly to society, such as important leaders, healers, shamans, or warriors. When the Chinese came, this practice fit their own beliefs, hence creating a unique micro-culture not found anywhere else in the world. In fact, many Na Tuk (Datuk/Dato) Gong deities feature depictions of an old, wise-looking man in traditional Malay costume, ie wearing a songkok (headgear) and sarong (waist cloth).
As you hike up further, you’ll come across quirky decorations, including giant peaches, durian fruit sculptures, and more. There’s also a garden featuring statues of the 12 Chinese animal zodiac signs, and a well kept herb garden with a wall of wooden wishing plaques. This area is nice to stroll in, as it’s less crowded, and you can actually hear the sounds of nature, including birds chirruping and crickets singing.
Longgu, a figure from Chinese mythology that symbolizes courage, determination, fertility, longevity, power, and success.
After you’re done with the shrines, it’s time to visit the highlight – the Monkey God statue perched atop the adjacent hill. You first have to cross a wooden suspension bridge, which feels sturdy but can bounce a lot if there are many people on the bridge.
Once you get to the other side, it’s quite a steep hike, so it makes for a good workout. But unfortunately this means it is not very accessible for the disabled or elderly. My parents stayed at the shrine area, while the brother and I made our way to the top (after much puffing, huffing, and wheezing + plenty of stops).
View halfway up to the Monkey God statue.
20 minutes later, we finally made it to the peak, where the Monkey God statue stands tall and proud overlooking the entire valley. There’s a plaque at the bottom of the statue proclaiming it to be the tallest free standing Monkey God statue in Malaysia. If you’re in good shape (we’re not, but we pushed ourselves, lol), I think it’s worth the climb to get some nice photos and admire the views from the top.
Back at the foot of the temple, we visited a small building which houses a museum and a wedding registrar (yes, you can register your civil marriage here!) There are quite a lot of interesting objects here, including the temple’s100-year-old wooden board, and nostalgic items such as kerosene lamps, radios, and cutlery used in the past.
Before we end, here’s a video!
Even if you’re not into hiking, Broga is worth a visit for Sak Dato’s beautiful architecture, interesting history, and the lush greenery surrounding it. It’s a great weekend getaway that’s not too far from the city, but offers a slice of tranquility and a connection to nature.
SAK DATO TEMPLE
No. 4, Jalan Besar, 71750 Broga, Negeri Sembilan
Opening hours: 10AM – 6PM
Entry is free but donations to the temple are welcome.
Phone: 03-8761 0035
Getting there: Public transport is scarce in the area, so your best bet is to drive.
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2 thoughts on “Sak Dato Temple, Broga – Tallest Monkey God Statue in Malaysia”
This is a rather unusual temple.
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Yep! There are many unique Chinese temples around Malaysia that are an interesting combination of folklore, mythology, religion, and culture. Aside from this one, there’s also a Centipede Temple in another state tied to a legend of an unfilial child who left his mother to seek fortunes, only to return and disown her after seeing her in a state of poverty. The gods punished him by turning him into a rock on the hill, after which a centipede (believed to be an incarnation of the man’s mother) would always appear on said rock. I always think these places are much more interesting to visit for tourists rather than our malls, which the government tends to promote 😀
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