Thean Hou Temple 乐圣岭天后宫 is the most notable Chinese temple in Kuala Lumpur that every tourist should visit.
The design of this syncretic temple is the amalgamation of Buddhism, Confucianism, and Taoism elements, combined with the contemporary architecture style.
Thean Hou Temple (also known as the Temple of the Goddess of Heaven), was built in 1981 by the Malaysian Hainanese community and officially opened on 3 September 1989. It is located on a hilltop Southwest of Kuala Lumpur with a spectacular view overlooking the city.
The Guan Yin statue
You will not miss the statue of the God of Mercy, Guan Yin, which is next to the entrance. Guan Yin is the Buddhist bodhisattva (菩萨) associated with compassion.
A little surprise to me that the first statue after the entrance is not the Goddess of Heaven 天后, whom the temple is named after.
The 12 Zodiac Animals Garden
The Chinese Zodiac garden is on the left of the main building. Here you will find the sculptures of the 12 animals of the Chinese Zodiac.
The belief of Zodiac dates back to the Han Dynasty. The Chinese zodiac is a cycle of twelve years with an animal represents each year. Each animal has its traits and personality, which you will inherit the characteristics of the animals, which represents the year you were born.
I was born in the year of the tiger. So I have the character of the brave tiger- active, bald, optimistic, impulsive, humorous, frank, generous, pragmatic, responsible, and tenacious :). I am overrated!
You can read the description corresponds to the year of birth inscribed on the tablet in front of each animal.
Who is Thean Hou?
Thean Hou is the presiding deity of Thean Hou Temple.
Thean Hou is the same deity worshipped under another name called Mazu 妈祖. She is the deitized form of a shamaness called Lin Moniang at the Fijian province dated from 960 to 987.
Legend has it she had studied various religious literature since young, master Confucious by eight, the Buddhist Sutras by 11, and master the book of lore 玄微袐法 by 13. which was left to her by the Taoist master Xuantong. She gained the ability to see the future and visit places spiritually without travel.
She used her extraordinary ability to roam the sea and protect the fishermen through miraculous interventions.
Fortune Telling 求签 at Thean Hou Temple
Try the self-service fortune-telling in the main temple shrine.
First, offer your donation by putting the amount into the donation box. Then, shuffle the fortune-telling sticks called ‘qian’ 签, and raise the whole bundle and drop it freely back to the container.
Pick the qian that sticks out the highest among the rest.
Get the fortune-telling script in the drawer below the stick container with the corresponding number of the stick that you pick.
Your predicted fortune is written in both Chinese and English in the script.
The main temple shrine is located on the second floor, with elaborate pillar carvings, intricate embellishments on the beams and spectacular ceiling art.
It has the most impressive ceiling decoration among all the Chinese temples in Kuala Lumpur.
The illuminated pillars
The illuminated pillars take center stage of the architectural design in the main shrine.
The lighted up pillars consist of hundreds of illuminated mini Buddha idols.
There are three main alters. In the middle is Thean Hou, on the right is the Goddess of Mercy 观音菩萨, and the Goddess of the Waterfront 水尾圣娘 is on the left.
Passage to the garden
There is an elegant walkway on the left of the temple building leading to the medicinal garden and the pond.
This garden is the most Instagram friendly sections of the temple, which offers endless photography opportunities.
The herbal garden
A small garden displays different types of common Chinese medicinal plants. The sign shows the name as it’s medical usage.
The Sculptures of Twenty-four Filial Exemplars 二十四孝
The sculptures are located at the back of the temple
It is based on an ancient book written by Guo Jujing 郭居敬 during the Yuan dynasty. It is a collection of twenty-four short stories of how children demonstrating their love, care, and respect to their parents in an exemplary manner.
This book is exceptionally influential in medieval Chinese society, in which the stories are part of the Confucius study for the children. That is why most people think that the Chinese treat their elderly better than people in the west. If this is true, the moral values instill to the children must be one of the major reasons.
The sculpture depicts filial story No:4: He Obeyed His Mother in Simple Clothes 单衣顺母
The book Twenty-four Filial Exemplars has been edited and become an illustrated version called Illustrated Hundred Stories of Filial Piety 百孝圖說 towards the end of the Qing Dynasty. Below is the sculpture base on the story No 4.
” Min Sun 闵损 of the Zhou dynasty was ill-treated by his stepmother. During winter, his stepmother made a coat stuffed with reed catkins for him. One day his father realized what was happening and wanted to expel ‘Min’s stepmother. Nevertheless, Min kneeled and appealed with his father to spare his stepmother. His action eventually touched Min’s stepmother. The stepmother heard this, and she apologized and changed.”
Traditional Chinese Kitchen
There is a small exhibition hall opposite the sculptures of filial piety, which was closed during my visit. Fortunately, the mural and exhibits outside the building are excellent spots for shutterbugs.
The outdoor kitchen is the most popular spot for taking selfies.
Walk down the
aisle stairs to the Thean Hou Temple marriage registry
The Thean Hou Temple marriage registry is located at the lower ground floor of the building.
Here is a convenient place for Chinese couples to get registered and perform prayers, and taking photos at this picturesque surrounding for the memorable occasion.
The Giant Chess Set at Thean Hou Temple
Your visit should not stop short at the temple shrines. There are more scenic places in the backyard to explore.
The giant garden Chinese chess set is on the slope at the back of the temple. This Chinese chess set is the only one build on the grassy slope that I know.
Worth for you to make a trip there.
On the way back to the main temple shrine from the right side, you will see a small Guan Yin statue among the rocks and a stream of falling water.
The devotees can kneel in front of the statue to receive the Holy water from a dispensing jar.
The arched doorway
I passed through the arched doorway and back to the entrance of the shrine. That concludes my tour at Thean Hou Temple.
If you allocate at least one and a half hour to visit Thean Hou Temple, you should have ample time to visit all the places.
The grand pillars, magnificent roofs art, ornate carvings, and elaborate embellishment are the main attraction. Besides, the building compound is so beautiful that you feel like in a Chinese garden rather than a temple. It is a place that is worth visiting, especially for visitors who have never been to Kuala Lumpur.
Note: You should also plan your trip to visit Batu Caves, the famous Hindu temple in Kuala Lumpur. The architecture is completely different from Thean Hou Temple.
Address: 65 Persiaran Endah, Off Jalan Syed Putra, Kuala Lumpur, Wilayah Persekutuan 50460.
GPS: 3.1219036, 101.6877459
Opening hours: 09:00 – 18:00
Dress code: smart casual
From KL Sentral: The nearest bus stop is at Balai Polis Brickfields. From there walk 1.1 km to the temple. Best to use Grab service or taxi.
Parking fee: RM5 per vehicle on Saturday and Sunday. Free parking on weekdays.