Thian Hock Keng Temple
158 Telok Ayer St, Singapore 068613
Location : 158 Telok Ayer Street
The Thian Hock Keng Temple (temple of Heavenly Happiness), also known as the Tianfu Gong Temple, is one of Singapore’s oldest Chinese temples, built in honour of the sea goddess, Mazu and it is recognised as one of the most important temples of the Singapore Hokkien community. Designed and built by craftsmen from China based on Chinese temple architectural traditions, it was completed in 1842.
TELOK Ayer Steet, in those days, was built along the sea front. The temple started out as a prayer house in 1821 located along the shoreline. Chinese immigrants paid their respects there and worshipped the goddess Ma Zu (or Tian Hou), the protector of seafarers and navigators. Many Chinese voyagers who had completed their journey from China to Singapore would make offerings of money and joss-sticks in thanks and gratitude for their safe journey and as a token of respect for the goddess.
With funding from wealthy Chinese merchants like Tan Tock Seng, Thian Hock Keng (Temple of Heavenly Happiness) was completed in 1842 at an estimated cost of Spanish $30,000 silver dollars. All the construction materials were imported from China and not a single nail was used in its construction. The temple was designed and built strictly according to Chinese temple architectural traditions by skilled Chinese craftsmen. Hence it is also known as the most traditionally authentic Chinese temple built in Singapore. The resident deity, Ma Zu’s statue was shipped down from Amoy and arrived in Singapore in April 1840.
The temple became a centre for Hokkien Chinese activities in Singapore. It is here that the Hokkien Clan Association was formed.
In 1907, Emperor Guang Xu, the last emperor of the Qing Dynasty presented a scroll to the temple and the scroll was subsequently donated to the Singapore History Museum (now the National Museum).
The temple was gazetted as a national monument on 28 June 1973 and a major restoration was performed on the temple from 1998 to 2000. The S$3.5-million restoration had won the temple an honourable mention in the 2001 UNESCO Asia-Pacific Heritage Awards.
This exquisitely beautiful temple, lovingly restored, where ancient mariners gave thanks or made supplication to their goddess and where the modern community still make their own supplications or give thanks is, for me, the most lovely temple in Singapore. It is certainly worth a visit, not once, not twice, but several times.
Traditional Festivals such as the Chinese New Year and the Mid Autumn Festival and cultural performances are organised at the temple on a regular basis. All are made to feel welcome.
1. National Library Board Singapore. (2015, July 30). Thian Hock Keng. Retrieved from SINGAPORE INFOPEDIA: Link Here
2. Wikimedia Foundation, Inc. (2014, February 10 ). Article: Thian Hock Keng. Retrieved from WIKIPEDIA THE FREE ENCYCLOPEDIA: Link Here