Destinations Magazine

Malaysia Revisited: Perak Tong’s Statues, Murals, and 385 Steps

By Thelostboylloyd

Ipoh in the state of Perak has upwards 30 cave temples, thanks to its early Chinese settlers that carved much of the city’s modern history. With only hours to spend in Ipoh, we visited one of the most popular and most visited cave temples, Perak Tong. Read more…

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We reached Perak Tong easily. From the city’s Medan Kidd Bus Terminal, we took a short distance bus to Kuala Kangsar. Fare to Perak Tong was only 1.40 MYR, as it was merely around six kilometers from Ipoh’s city center, and we paid 10 MYR to get into the caves.

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Perak Tong or the Perak Cave Temple is a limestone cave within Gunung Tasik. A priest from Jiaoling, China named Chong Sen Yee discovered the cave in 1926 and consequently asked for permission to construct the temple from the state government. After 50 years of hard work, it has hence become one of the most beautiful cave temples in Malaysia.

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Upon entering the temple, our attention was immediately caught, aside from the strong smell of incense and the stray dogs, by the 40-foot golden sitting Buddha statue. Flanking the giant statue were four deities that serve as guardians.

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Over at the right side of the temple by the store, we saw a couple of statues that we presumed to be watching over the religious merchandise. Near them was a familiar deity with 18 arms, the Goddess of Mercy or Guan Yin that we saw in Georgetown, Penang. Smaller grottoes also with statues were also within the temple.

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Deities were not only venerated in the form of statues but also colorful murals. The murals were complemented by calligraphy of Buddhist scripture. Some of the work were even actually painted by Chong Yin Chat, the son of the elder Chong who continued his legacy.

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After seeing much of the deities and murals, we had to do the inevitable—climb the many steep stairs behind the altar to the top of the cave. Under the Malaysian heat, we took the 385 steps to see a garden, a pavilion, and a breathtaking view of Ipoh.

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We took a taxi back to Ipoh’s Old Town to continue our sightseeing. We were simply happy and contented to have at least visited one of Ipoh’s cave temples, and we made the right choice by going to Perak Tong—there was so much to see there!

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