You would be surprised to know that “Telok Ayer Street” where the “Thian Hock Keng Temple” is located, used to face the beach and the sea. The street was the starting point for Singapore’s colonial town planners and “Chinatown” started expanding inland from this point.

For detailed itinerary of my Singapore trip read my following blog

After visiting “The Merlion park” (for more details read my blog) our next stop as part of our “City tour” was a visit to the Thian Hock Keng Temple.

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Telok Ayer Street – where the “Thian Hock Keng” temple is located


Openings hours: 7:30 AM to 5:30 PM

The shoreline has been reclaimed since then and the “Thian Hock Keng Temple” stands on this busy street as an reminder of the Chinatown’s beginnings. As the settlement started expanding, the initial make shift shrine was replaced with a permanent temple. Construction of this temple started in the year 1839 and it took 3 years to complete it.

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The view of the temple from outside

The temple is dedicated to the Goddess of the Sea, Mazu and early Chinese immigrants used to offer their prayers at this temple for a safe passage across the rough South China sea. The statue of Mazu was brought from China and was enshrined as the chief deity following a grand procession in 1840. The other deities in the temple are Baosheng Dadi (God of Medicine and Health), Guansheng Dijun (Spiritual protection), Confucius (a favourite among students and their parents), and the Goddess of Mercy.


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The main deity of the temple – “Goddess of the Sea”, Mazu
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Closeup of the “Goddess of the Sea”, Mazu


The architecture of the temple is inspired by the traditional Southern Chinese style. The temple has detailed carvings and sculptures of dragons, phoenixes and deities. The roof of the temple is inspired by a Fujian decorating technique – colourful broken porcelain on the ridges. One interesting fact about the temple is that, not a single nail was used in the construction of the temple.


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The other deities of in the temple
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The temple has intricate carvings.


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Another deity in the temple


The materials to build the temple were imported from China and the intricate carvings and decorations were done by artists who hailed from the Fujian Province. Like many of the Chinese temples, Thian Hock Keng temple also has the standard layout of a three-hall typology – an entrance hall, a main hall, and a rear hall.

In the year 1973, Thian Hock Keng temple was gazetted as a national monument and underwent a major restoration between 1998 and 2000. Today,  you will find many tourists and students arrive at Thian Hock Keng  temple to understand its history and its social significance

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The temple is a haven of serenity and tranquillity

The existence of the temple is a tribute to the migrants who cared for the welfare of their fellow migrants. The temple exhibits the spirit of the migrants and serves the religious, cultural and social needs of the people of Singapore.



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