THE 130-year-old Kek Lok Si Temple in Penang is open to the public, except for the mid-section where one of the prayer rooms at the main shrine hall caught fire earlier.
Temple trustee Datuk Seri Steven Ooi Teik Heng said the public could still visit the enormous 30.2m-tall bronze statue of the Goddess Guan Yin and park their cars at the open air or basement car park.
“Both entrances from the hilly road leading to Ayer Itam Dam at the temple are open for devotees to enter for prayers.
“Only the mid-section where the fire broke out earlier is closed for repairs.
“In fact, the temple has been open since early September after the Government announced the reopening of places of worship.
“Devotees have to follow the standard operating procedures to ensure their safety and good health,” he said.
On Tuesday, fire gutted the annex section of one of the newer structures. However, the 121-year-old Sanskrit bell in the room was unscathed in the fire believed to have started from a lighted oil lamp.
Ooi said they had to close the mid-section of the temple as the area needed to be cleaned up and renovated to ensure the people’s safety and prevent unpleasant incidents.
“Although the portion that caught fire is less than 1% of the entire Kek Lok Si Temple complex, we had decided to close the area to avoid any accident.
“We are working hard to handle the aftermath of the blaze.
“We have sped up repair work and are in the middle of calculating the losses caused by the fire.
“During the movement control order, we actually took advantage of the opportunity to renovate one of the prayer halls and the pagoda,” he said in a phone interview on Saturday.
Located in Ayer Itam, Kek Lok Si, which means Temple of Supreme Bliss, is said to be the largest Buddhist temple in South-East Asia, and arguably the most famous in Penang.
The hills in that area have traditionally been regarded as having all the right ‘feng shui’ for a temple.
The temple’s construction began in 1893 and was inspired by the chief monk of the Goddess of Mercy Temple at Jalan Masjid Kapitan Keling back then.
The Manchu Emperor Guangxu approved of the project, bestowing a tablet and gifting 70,000 volumes of the Imperial Edition of Buddhist Sutras.