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Pagoda of Ten Thousand Buddhas, Kek Lok Si

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Pagoda of Ten Thousand Buddhas, Kek Lok Si Temple, PenangPagoda of Ten Thousand Buddhas, Kek Lok Si Temple, Penang (25 January, 2012)

Pagoda of Ten Thousand Buddhas is one of the most recognizable icons of Kek Lok Si Temple, Penang. Although completed some forty years after Kek Lok Si was conceived, it has long been one of the dream projects of the benefactors of the temple.

Work to erect the pagoda began in 1915, under the leadership of the Second Abbot of Kek Lok Si, Ben Zhong. The foundation stone was laid by the Siamese king Vajiravudh, or Rama VI. As such, the pagoda was officially named Pagoda of Rama VI. At the time it was being constructed, there were even coconut trees surrounding the construction site.

Design of the Pagoda of Ten Thousand BuddhasDesign of the Pagoda of Ten Thousand Buddhas (25 January, 2012)

If you observe the Pagoda of the Ten Thousand Buddhas closely, you will be able to make out three different architectural styles.

The lower tier was designed in the Chinese temple style. It stands on an octagonal base. Each level is a true level, that is, it is the actual level that corresponds to the level within the pagoda. The ground level and first level have sloping roof ridges, typical in the design of Chinese temples, particularly of South China, ending with curved finials.

This is followed by the middle tier, said to be in the Thai style. In fact, it is a false façade comprising miniatures of eight Chinese pagodas each facing a different direction. Each miniature pagoda is four storeys tall. However each false storey does not correspond with an actual interior storey of the pagoda. The bottom storey is the only true storey. It has arched openings. Above this is a faux tier with three niches housing engraved images of the Buddha. This is followed by the next level with two graven images and the top tier, with one graven image.

Curved Finials, Lower Tier, Pagoda of 10,000 BuddhasCurved Finials, Lower Tier, Pagoda of 10,000 Buddhas (25 January, 2012)

Middle Tier, Pagoda of 10,000 BuddhasMiddle Tier, Pagoda of 10,000 Buddhas (1 February, 2003)

Construction of the Pagoda of 10,000 Buddhas was done in stages. The bottom and middle tiers were completed for some time before the top tier was added. Hence, the pagoda appeared semi-completed, with its top comprising a jumble of small pagodas - not unlike the top of the Kuan Yin Pavillion.

When the top tier and crown of the Pagoda of 10,000 Buddhas were added, these were designed in the Burmese style. There are two true storeys here, each opening to balustraded balconies, with niches for small images of the Buddha. Many of the Buddha images at this level are of Burmese design as well.

Crown, Pagoda of 10000 BuddhasCrown, Pagoda of 10000 Buddhas (25 January, 2012)

The Pagoda of 10,000 Buddhas is topped by a chedi or crown. At the pinnacle is a brass spire with two bells attached to it. This is followed by a spire proper, which comprises a series of annulets or circular mouldings. Unlike many Burmese chedi, which are often gilded, that of Kek Lok Si Temple was simply painted yellow, perhaps a reflection of the modest budget available during its construction.

The crown sits on a false level with empty balustrades. This is followed by a proper level and opening. This forms to highest part of the pagoda that could be reached.

The Pagoda of 10,000 Buddhas is open to visitors. It remains one of the most popular highlights for visits to Kek Lok Si Temple. A small amount is charged for entry into the pagoda.

Related Pages

  1. Kek Lok Si Temple: Main page on the Temple of Supreme Bliss, one of the biggest tourist destinations in Penang.
  2. Kuan Yin Pavilion: The latest addition to the Kek Lok Si temple complex.
  3. Kek Lok Si Columbarium: Four-storey structure to house the remains of the departed.

Pagoda of Ten Thousand Buddhas during Chinese New Year 2012Pagoda of Ten Thousand Buddhas during Chinese New Year 2012 (25 January, 2012)

Pagoda of 10000 Buddhas, night viewPagoda of 10000 Buddhas, night view (9 February, 2009)

Another view of the Pagoda of 10000 Buddhas in 2009Another view of the Pagoda of 10000 Buddhas in 2009 (9 February, 2009)

View of Kek Lok SiView of Kek Lok Si from the Pagoda of 10,000 Buddhas during Chinese New Year (9 February, 2009)

Kek Lok Si Temple main page


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