Wat Chaiya Mangkalaram – Penang


The 19th century Thai and Buddhist temple of Malaysia is located in George Town in Penang. The temple has a 33 meters high reclining Buddha statue which makes it one of the most important features here. The body of the statue is made of gold while the eyes and toenails are made of pearls and shells. Other than the Buddhist statue there are many other shrines present in the temple. The beautiful colors and designs of Thai architecture are reflected in the works of the temple.

Queen Victoria donated the land for the temple which was built in 1845. The temple is open from sunrise to sunset. In Penang, Wat Chaiya Mangkalaram is the largest Buddhist temple though it is not the oldest one. However, the reclining Buddha statue is one of the largest in the world.

What will make you amazed is the interior architectural work of the temple. It is so authentic and genuine that you will have the feel of travelling in a time travel and having reached a completely different time zone. There are a lot of religious and mythological icons present within the temple. If you closely watch the Buddhist reclined statue, you will see that the hair in the statue is pulled up. This is purposefully done in order to symbolize the spiritual power or the greatest enlightenment of Buddha. You will also observe that in between the two eyes of Buddha there is a third eye present which depicts Buddha’s spiritual vision. The statue is made in a reclined position in order to signify the peace and relaxation achieved from being the zenith spiritualism. Buddhist followers have this belief that this particular posture of Buddha denotes his enlightenment or the Nirvana.

The hall where you will get to see the reclining Buddha statue has hundreds of golden sculptures on the walls. The hall is hence also referred to as the Hall of Thousand Buddha’s. Just below the Buddha statue is present a small establishment having ashes of Buddhist worshippers who had been cremated.

The other attractions of Wat Chaiya Mangkalaram temple includes dragon serpents which extends from the entrance of the temple till the meditation hall. If you have done an in-depth research of mythology, you will definitely know that the serpents symbolize the bridge between the earth and the heaven. Besides the dragon serpents, you will also find at the entrance, the Dewas, statues with a green face.

If you plan to visit this temple you will enjoy the most if you visit it at the time of Buddhist festivals like the Songkran or the traditional Loy Krathong festival. The temple place becomes overcrowded with Buddhist followers during these festivals. Though the temple is open from 7 am to 6 pm, the main hall is open from 8 am to 5 pm. There are no restrictions within the temple area and the entry is also free. However, the basic rules and disciplines followed in any holy place is followed herein.