Thian Hock Keng Temple

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A temple was first built on this location in 1821, and like many important Chinese temples in the old Straits Settlements, it celebrates a Chinese sea goddess and was worshipped by the seafarers. The Thian Hock Keng Temple is the oldest and most important Hokkien temple in Singapore. There is a smaller shrine at the back dedicated to Guanyin, the Goddess of Mercy. Also at the back you can find display panels explaining the significance of the various stone carvings in this temple.

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You can’t quite see what all her hands are holding from the front view, so here are here many right hands shown in the photo on the right.

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What is especially interesting about Chinatown in Singapore is how easily all this cultural heritage could have disappeared. Thankfully, someone must have stood up against the developers and preserved these buildings for us to enjoy today, and we now better appreciated the history of this City State. Many of the Chinese shophouses have been superbly renovated and repurposed for today’s clients. But it is not a sterile ‘tourist’ zone, it is a lively area where people still work and play. But, you just have to look up a little to see that this is a low-rise oasis dominated by skyscrapers, and all this link witht he past could so easily have been lost.

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© Helen Gray 2021