Wednesday, 8 February 2012

More of Singapore's Best Kept Secrets: The Temples of Race Course Road

There are some places in Singapore which I've never been to in all of my years. The north end of Race Course Road, far away from the crowded curry restaurants, is one of these. My reason for being there had more to do with canine hydrotherapy, but some time was spared for me to do some touristy sight-seeing. Within close proximity, there are at least four or five temples, and they say that Singaporeans are not religious...

Perhaps the most interesting of these is the Sakyamuni Gaya Temple (above), which is built like a Thai-styled viharn. Because of its Thai origins (founded by Thai monks who found the spot conducive for meditation), it was spared by the Japanese during the Second World War. Thus Allied PoWs used this as a site to smuggle letters back to their homelands.

A stone leopard and tiger guard the entrance to the temple.

Possibly the tallest sitting Buddha in Singapore. Old Tourism Board brochures refer to this temple as the "Temple of Thousand Lights".

Assorted Buddha images below the big Buddha.

These icons are typical of most Thai temples, including the mother-of-pearl inlaid Buddha footprint (right).

A diorama of Buddha's life, when the Prince Siddharta sees his first corpse (left), and fulfilling his vow to asceticism (right).

Across the street is the Leong San Temple, which is typical of most Chinese temples (which practise a combination of Buddhism, Confucianism, Taoism and ancestor worship) in Southeast Asia.

Colourful and ornate carvings are a common feature.

Scenes of Chinese mythology are often displayed on temple walls.

The interior of the Leong San Temple.

The main altar.

Temple guardian, Maitreya (laughing Buddha) and the Goddess of mercy.

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