Sometimes you don’t need to wander too far to find peaceful, exquisite places – especially in a city like Singapore. Venture three stops on the MRT past the bustling Orchard Road to find yourself face to face with a 120 year old Buddhist temple and monastery, founded in 1898 and completed in 1907 by Low Kim Pong.
Modelled after Xi Chan Si, a temple in Fuzhou, Fujian province, the Siong Lin Temple is a cong lin (literally “layers of forest” in Mandarin) styled temple, where a standardised layout is adopted and the monks lead an ordered way of life practising Buddhist scriptures and following a strict daily routine. If you’re lucky, you’ll see the monks taking walks around the temple and monastary in such a peaceful, calm manner.
All according to feng shui, the complex comprises three main halls separated by two courtyards and arranged along a central north-south axis, with the main entrance facing south. Don’t miss the Mahavira Hall, Hall of the Celestial Kings, and the Guan Yin Dian.
Top Tip: Come in April, when you’ll have a chance to witness the Qingming Festival or ‘Tomb Sweeping Day’. This is a traditional Chinese festival celebrated by the Han Chinese, involves families visiting the tombs of their ancestors to clean the gravesites, pray to their ancestors, and make ritual offerings. Offerings would typically include traditional food dishes, and the burning of joss sticks and paper into a chimney like structure – seen below.
For more information on the Temple & Monastary, click here
There don’t appear to be opening times, as it is an active monastery – but no matter when you come, it is sure to be a lot less crowded than other areas of Singapore.
Where is the best hidden gem you’ve found in your home city? Comment below.
For more exquisite temples, take a look at my recent post on the Shwedagon Pagoda in Yangon, Myanmar