When you are walking along Jalan Masjid Kapitan Keling, the Kapitan Keling Mosque catches your eyes and actually the street was named after the mosque. When you walk further, after a crossroads, there is a Goddess of Mercy Temple. Further, isn’t this a St George Church? There is even a Hindu Temple when you turn around!
It is said that few years ago, the former president of India, Dr. APJ Abdul Kalam visited the place and said this is the road of peace after he found out there are four major religions worship places on the street, as it shows the harmony of different religions stay together.
Malaysia is a country with multi ethnics, religions and cultures, Malays, Chinese and Indians are the 3 major ethnics in Malaysia. Although Islam is the official religion of Malaysia but the people still enjoy the freedom of religion and hence, the number of prayers of Buddhism, Taoism, Hinduism and Christians are quite high. If you are interested in heritages and multi religion, probably you should have a depth travel on Jalan Masjid Kapitan Keling, to observe how the people shuttle in different worship places yet looks harmony and peace.
Mentioned about Jalan Masjid Kapitan Keling, the Chinese name of Jalan Masjid Kapitan Keling is different from its Malay name, this is common for the streets in heritage area. Actually the Malay name is determined by the state government but the Chinese used to name the street based on the living style on the street. Thus, the Chinese name of Jalan Masjid Kapitan Keling is Ye Jiao Jie (Coconut Street) as there are a lot of Coconut trees were planted during early time.
Kapitan Keling Mosque
The Kapitan Keling Mosque in Penang is a good example of Indian Muslim architecture as it was built by Indian Muslim traders in 1801. Also, it is the oldest mosque in Malaysia. Muslims will pray 5 times per day and hence you will hear the sound of chanting through speaker when you pass by the mosque.
Over the years the original mosque has been expanded many times into what is seen here today as the original design was impractical anymore. During 1930, the major work of renovation included doubling the height of the central prayer hall, upgrading the ventilation system and allowing more natural sunlight coming in the mosque. Its exterior was painted with ochre yellowed color while the interior had white marble floors. The interior of the building was decorated with geometric designs as human and animal forms are forbidden in Islam. The mosque opens to the public and non Muslims, free guide tours are provided as well. All visitors are required to wear robes, which are supplied for you.
Address: 14, Jalan Buckingham, George Town, 10200 George Town, Pulau Pinang.
Opening Hours: 11.30am to 10pm daily.
Admission Fee: Entrance to the grounds is free
Goddess of Mercy Temple (Kuan Yin Teng, officially known as Kong Hock Keong)
The temple was built in year 1800, which is the second oldest temple in Malaysia and it has 219 years history. The architecture of this temple was following style of Southern Fujian and also with some combination from Guang Dong. When early Southern Fujian and Guang Dong traders first came to Penang, the temple is the worship place where they dedicate Kuan Yin together. In fact, there is a monument at the right side of the entrance mentioning about this story.
The temple also dedicated to Mazu, a sea deity, Guan Di, Da Bo Gong and other deities. The temple is popular amongst Penangites of Chinese descent and it becomes the focal point of for Chinese activities such as the annual feast days for Kuan Yin.
Address: 30, Jalan Masjid Kapitan Keling, George Town, 10200 George Town, Pulau Pinang.
Opening Hours: 7am to 6pm daily
St George Church
The church was built in 1818, designed by Colonel J.L.Caldwell and constructed by Captain Robert Smith. It was built on the model of St. George’s Cathedral, Madras, in the Georgian-Palladian style. The simple and not fancy design made it looks clean and tidy. There is a lawn just outside the church, when the sunlight falls on the church accompanied by the blowing wind, the scenario make it looks peace and harmony.
During World War II, the church was bombed, the roof was collapsed and many valuable historical relics were destroyed. Fortunately, the prayers work and cooperate together then only the church restored.
Address: 1, Lebuh Farquhar, George Town, 10200 George Town, Pulau Pinang.
Opening Hours: Mon to Thurs, 9am to 3pm (guide tour provided)
Sri Mahamariamman Temple
India always gave out the colourful feeling to the people and you might find it related when you look at their Hindu temple. Also located at Jalan Masjid Kapitan Keling, this temple was built in 1801. It was just a small temple during early time and it was expanded to what it looks today in 1833. Amazing sculptures of gods and goddess are to be seen in over the main entrance of the temple, especially the Gopuram.
It is said that the traders from India preached Hinduism in Malaysia and the Mariamman Goddess is one of the deities that worship by the Indians. They believe Goddess will protect them from various illnesses. During festive seasons, for example Deepavali and Thaipusam, the temples will be packed with thousands of devotees making offerings.
When you are going to visit the temple, do remember to take off your shoes before you step it.
Address: Lebuh Queen, George Town, 10450 George Town, Pulau Pinang.
Opening Hours: 6am to 12pm, 4:30pm to 9pm