SJONG LIM TEMPLE, Introduction

Audio File length: 2.41
English / USA Language: English / USA

Hi, my name’s Marcy, and I’m your personal guide. Along with MyWoWo, I’d like to welcome you to one of the Wonders of the World: the Siong Lim Temple, the largest Buddhist monastery in Singapore.

Also known as the Lian Shan Shuang Lin Monastery, the complex was founded in 1898, although building work did not begin until four years later, and was completed in 1907. More recently, it underwent a decade of restoration work, which started in 1991.

The complex is mainly modeled on the Xi Chan Si Temple of Fuzhou, in the Chinese province of Fujian, and it boasts a seven-storey, gilded pagoda that is a replica of the one in the ancient temple of Shanfeng, also in Fujian province.

Before you go in and explore the large monastery, stop for a moment at the main entrance, known as Shan Men, or Mountain Gate, with its magnificent gates over nine meters tall, decorated with images of the guardians of the temple, depicted in bright colors. The bronze knocker of the central door is held in the mouth of a snail-shaped creature, representing one of the nine sons of the Chinese dragon.

Once inside, just follow the shady paths lined with bonsai, amid the numerous pagodas of the large monastery, which is still inhabited by Buddhist monks who have retreated here to conduct a mystical life.

The main entrance hall of the temple is known as the Hall of Celestial Kings, on the roof of which you can observe nine ridges. You can also admire a number of granite panels depicting scenes from Chinese history and culture.

The main hall, known as the Mahavira Hall, has a two-tiered roof supported by colored beams, carved with lotus flowers and dragons. On the doors, you can see carved lattice designs of flowers, birds and symbols of longevity, while the exterior walls are decorated with tortoiseshell motifs. The interior is richly decorated in vibrant colors.

Dharma Hall, at the back, houses the statue of the goddess Guanyin, as well as funeral urns of the monks. It is the oldest building in the complex, though it was reconstructed in 1978.

 

Let me leave you with an interesting fact: the literal meaning of Siong Lim Temple is "Twin Groves of the Lotus Mountain Temple", a reference to the two groves in Bodhgaya, India, where Buddha is believed to have attained enlightenment.

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