Dhammikarama Burmese Buddhist Temple

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Taken from Asia Explorers

The Dhammikarama Burmese Temple at Burmah Lane, originally known as the Nandy Molah Burmese Temple, was the first Buddhist temple to be built in Penang in 1803, on land donated by Nyonya Betong, one of its many woman patrons. The oldest part of the temple is the stupa which was consecrated in 1805. It is enshrined within an outer stupa which was constructed in 1838, together with the ceremonial hall guarded by a pair of stone elephants.

Mythical figures and religious icons dot the spacious compound, much of which were later additions. Among them are bell-bearing acolytes, myriad buddhas, chimeras and flying beings. Two huge and imposing-looking chinthes (mythical beings that are a cross between a dragon, a dog and a lion) flank the entrance to the main prayer hall. At a disused 200 year-old well is a huge pond filled with carps. Buddha statues in different meditative poses nestle in grottos marked with the names of individual donors as well as signs of the zodiac. A pair of winged chimeras called Panca Rupa look resplendent in the roles as “Guardian Protectors of the World.”

A huge mural depicts the Great Renunciation of Prince Siddharta. The future Buddha is shown riding his steed Kanthaka in mid-air with his faithful servant Channa seemingly hanging on. Evil beings try to discourage him from his noble quest while good ones welcome him with open arms.

At the main prayer hall, voices are reduced to a whisper and the silence is broken only by the occasional ringing of temple bells.

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