One of the most ornate and beautiful temples in the whole of Penang, Wat Chaiya Mangkalaram in Penang is an amazing masterpiece of Siamese architecture! Famed for its magnificence, this temple is a hotspot tourist destination for all visitors to Penang and is a must-see for you if you’re looking for what to do in Penang or where to go in Penang. One of the ultimate of all the places to visit in Malaysia, Wat Chaiya Mangkalaram is the biggest temple in the whole of Penang.
Where It’s Located!
Most of the historic buildings and gorgeous architecture that are responsible for Penang being known as the Pearl of the Orient are nestled in the heart of Georgetown, and this is exactly where the Wat Chaiya Mangkalaram also stands! Set on the Lorong Burma; Burma Lane in Pulau Tikus on five acres of land donated by Queen Victoria, this temple is exquisitely positioned for all tourists who are on a walking heritage tour of Penang.
The History and Architecture of Wat Chaiya Mangkalaram
Along with its size and ornate features, Wat Chaiya Mangkalaram has a very rich and vibrant history that makes it a fascinating place to visit for history enthusiasts! Built in the year 1845 by a Thai Buddhist monk, this is one of the major things to see in Penang for its history, architecture, art, beauty and serenity.
There are various reasons as to why Wat Chaiya Mangkalaram is a famed tourist spot, but the one that takes the cake is the architecture! Quaintly oriental, this temple is simply resplendent with its Thai façade with a vivid tapestry of colors, carvings of ancient symbols, resplendent dragons and serpents and intriguing wall murals. For art lovers, this temple is a must-see with its intriguing statues of deities, symbolism of the stories of lore and sculptures of mythical beings that are strategically placed in the beautifully landscaped gardens.
One of the main features of the Temple are the enormous dragon serpents that protect the way to the Reclining Buddha. Their ferocity begins at the balustrades that form the temple entrance with their tails reaching towards the meditation halls!
The Reclining Buddha at Wat Chaiya Mangkalaram
Set in one of the inner chambers of the temple in a room known as the Hall of the Thousand Buddhas, the Reclining Buddha is at par with the greatest Reclining Buddha statues in Southeast Asia, and is reputedly the third longest reclining Buddha in the world!
Lying on a majestic carved marble altar, the Reclining Buddha is 33 meters long and showcases the peace and serenity that true enlightenment can provide to the soul. Surrounded by a thousand gold sculptures of the Buddha, the Reclining Buddha is considered to be a key source of inspiration to Buddhists, with a soft smile playing on the lips and the hair pulled back to display the ‘enlightenment elevation’; the greatest enlightenment that can be achieved.
The Reclining Buddha statue has been created with shimmering gold leaf with the toenails and whites of the eyes done intricately in mother-of-pearl. In one of the biggest displays of enlightenment, the Reclining Buddha showcases the Nirvana pose and makes Wat Chaiya Mangkalaram one of the best places to visit in Malaysia!
When To Visit
A good time to visit the Wat Chaiya Mangkalaram in Penang is during the festival of Songkran and Loy Krathong. Thousands of Buddhist devotees make their way into this little corner of Penang and light up the temple for celebration and prayer!
Tourists who make their way to Wat Chaiya Mangkalaram are very welcome, but they are advised to maintain silence, take off their shoes and be aware of the environment around them. This temple is very ancient and has been carefully preserved through the years. When visiting, keep this in mind and be mindful of how you can help protect and preserve it for future generations.