Melaka has several historical places to visit that transport tourists back into the time. They are not only tourist attractions but also enable visitors to reflect back to the past. The Cheng Hoon Teng Chinese temple is one of such places in Melaka. It is the oldest Chinese temple in Malaysia and one of the oldest in Southeast Asia. It is located in Malacca, near the road Jalan Emas Tukang, one of the three main streets running through the historic city (the others are Heeren Street and Jonker Street). Jalan Emas Tukang is colloquially called “Harmony Street” because of its proximity to two other important places of worship, but of different religions, the Kling Mosque and the Indian Temple Sri Poyyatha Moorthi.
Cheng Hoon Teng Chinese Temple
Like most Chinese temples that can be found in Malaysia, China and elsewhere in Southeast Asia, Cheng Hoon Teng Chinese temple also was built with modest proportions, and was expanded in the succession of centuries.
The temple, which was built according to the principles of Feng Shui, it has a courtyard just past the entrance, that separates this from the various prayer halls, of which the main one is dedicated to the goddess of mercy, Kuan Yin bohdisattva, divinity applicant in Chinese-Buddhist pantheon. To his left there, but Choe Poh, patron deity of seafarers (significant when you consider the origins port of Malacca and the path that the Chinese had to make to get there by sea).
The deities that are above the altars are enclosed behind glass to protect them from the fumes of incense and candles. The other rooms and sections of the temple are dedicated to other Buddhist deities of Chinese folk tradition of wealth, longevity and fertility, or ancestor worship, with ancient tablets. About the latter, the temple still houses the mortal remains of two of the first three captains who contributed to the construction of the temple in the seventeenth century. In addition, one of the oldest tablets, bearing the name of the Chinese captain Lee Wei, mentions that these donated a plot of land for the construction of a Chinese cemetery – probably the tablet refers to the cemetery at Bukit China.
Unlike other Chinese temples in Melaka, the Cheng Hoon Teng Temple has no doors protected by the gods. The gates are guarded by the famous Taoist monks, the Eight Immortals. At the entrance of the main hall, the Eight Immortals are not shown in human form, but rather symbolized by dragons with four claws. The temple walls are all painted with a white made of lime. In the past, lime was used instead of cement and was derived from oyster shells and coal.
Opposite the temple, on the opposite side of the street is a Chinese opera (the current era contemporeanea) on which are staged traditional Chinese works to the Chinese public of the city. Often – almost always – the shows are free.
Cheng Hoon Teng Chinese Temple was founded in 1645 by the two “captains” Chinese (leaders of the local Chinese community Hokkien) Captain Tay Kie Ki (aka Tay Hong Yong) and Captain Li Wei King (also known as Chang or Li Koon Ki Kap) During the era of Portuguese Malacca (1511-1650) and the Ching Dynasty in China, with materials imported directly from the latter, by ship. In 2003, Cheng Hoon Teng Temple received a UNESCO award for its exceptional state of preservation and the uniqueness of its architecture, evidence of the passage of the oldest Chinese communities in Malacca and Malaysia.
If you’re in search of a Chinese temple in Melaka, a visit to Cheng Hoon Teng temple should be in your list of things to do in Malacca. To share your experience of the temple, please feel free to add comments below.
Address: 25, Jalan Tokong, 75200 Melaka, Malaysia
Phone: +60 6-282 9343
Visit Temple Website