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TOURIST ATTRACTION: Hundreds of deities at the century-old temple in Pasir Panjang is drawing the crowds
SITIAWAN: The more than 100-year-old Tua Pek Kong Temple at Pasir Panjang near here has become a popular tourist attraction in the Manjung district.
Nestled among kampung houses close to the coast at Pasir Panjang, the temple occupies a plot of land donated by its Chinese owners.
The main attraction drawing crowds of local and out-of-town visitors are 98 statues of deities and animals from the Chinese lunar calendar on the well-landscaped three-hectare compound.
There are also 11 statues measuring between 2.1m and 14.6m in height on a broad-based, two-metre high classical facade facing the sea.
Taking centre stage is the gigantic Da Bo Gong statue, along with statues of Jiu Tian Xuan Nu, Yu Nu, Guan Yin Niang Niang, Jin Tong, Wu Guan, Wen Guan, Qian Li Yan, Ma Zu, Shun Feng Er and Hu Ye.
Below these statues, on the cement courtyard, are 24 smaller statues of various Chinese demigods who are said to have mystical powers.
Outside the courtyard are statues of a monkey, pig, horseman, and a man with a staff of demigods.
At the right side of the main temple are nine statues lining the sides of the garden path leading to three man-made caves containing three small deities.
Here, there is a waterfall, fish pond and garden also with statues of animals from the Chinese lunar calendar.
All the statues were made from granite-like material imported from China. Some of the larger statues were cut up and shipped in pieces, and later assembled by masons arriving from China.
Millions of ringgit have been spent to upgrade the temple and its grou- nds, which has the potential of becoming a major tourist attraction in Perak.
It is a common sight to have large groups of visitors from near and far busily snapping photos and making video recordings of the sights in and around the temple.
The crowds swell on weekends and holidays, with people coming by the busloads, as well as other modes of transport.
Leaflets made available to the public tell an intriguing story of events that happened at the Tua Pek Kong temple.
In June 1993, so the story goes, a temple devotee accidentally found the Goddess of Mercy Kuan Yin statue by the seaside.
He was prompted by the goddess to pick it up and build a small temple to house the statue.
Subsequently, the deity, in a vision to committee members, requested them to build a larger temple.
It also warned that the Kuan Yin statue would be stolen -- a prediction that came true.
Two months later, the statue mysteriously returned to its rightful place.
On completion of the larger temple, the Kuan Yin statue was placed inside it.
However, two weeks later, it went missing again, and it is said that another vision informed the committee that the statue would be returned in four days' time, and true enough, a woman believer brought it back.
It is believed that the Kuan Yin statue's presence in the temple is a blessing.
This is because it provides solace to many who come seeking comfort in their troubles.
The statue is also said to bring joy and honour to all its believers who come to visit and pay homage to it.
There is also a nearby monkey park with a concrete path leading to the mangrove forest.
Many people also visit the temple to take in this fascinating sight.
The temple is open to visitors until 10pm daily.