Cave Temples in Ipoh, Perak
high-definition creative commons photographs from six cave temples around the capital of Perak, Malaysia, together with some further information, and a map.
Sam Poh Tong (25) Kek Lok Tong (16) Ling Sen Temple (7)
Sukhavana (9) Panna Cave (2) Miaw Yuan Chan Lin (6)
Sam Poh Tong
The name Ipoh derives from a local tree, pohon epu or now more commonly known as pokok ipoh. The sap of this plant is poisonous and was used by Orang Asli (indigenous people) to coat the tips of the darts of their blowpipes.
Ipoh city came into existence in the 1820s as a village on the banks of the Kinta River. It was less prominent at that time as compared to the early mining town of Gopeng, 20 km south of Ipoh. In 1890 Swettenham put forth the founding of Ipoh Sanitary Board which led to systematic planning of Ipoh, which is still seen today.
However, from the turn of the 20th century when more British tin-mining companies were set up in the city, Ipoh gained prominence. Its geographic location in the rich tin-bearing valley of the Kinta River made it a natural centre of growth. It grew rapidly as a mining town, especially in the 1920s and 1930s. Ipoh was invaded by the Japanese on 15 December 1941. During the Japanese Occupation of Malaya, Ipoh was made the capital of Perak, in place of Taiping.
With the collapse of tin prices and the closure of the tin mines in the late 1970s, Ipoh's growth had stagnated and resulted in the migration of many young talents to other parts of Malaysia (particularly metropolitan areas such as Kuala Lumpur) and Singapore. Ipoh has since been known colloquially as a dead city and earned a reputation as a good location for retirement. Various efforts have been made to redevelop Ipoh into a modern town. The city is expanding all the time as there are new developments in the suburbs.
Ipoh has many limestone caves due to the surrounding karst formations. The Sam Poh Tong, the Triple Gem Cave, is a Chinese temple built within a limestone cave. Another cave worth seeing is the Kek Lok Tong, the Supreme Bliss Cave, which is a cave temple that lies on the other side of the same range of limestone hills as Sam Poh Tong. It has a cleaner, quieter and more cooling environment and has the best scenic cave view.
Limestone hills extend 20 km north of Ipoh and also 20 km to the south. There are many caves in these hills; cave temples are built in some of these caves. Gua Tempurung, near Gopeng south of Ipoh, is a show cave open to the public.
Unfortunately many of the limestone hills are being quarried in the ever increasing demand for crushed stone and cement. Some of the hills under threat contain endemic fauna and flora. One cave, Gua Puncak, contains Peninsular Malaysia's second largest cave chamber and is in danger of being quarried.
Text adapted from Wikipedia (retrieved, July 22nd 2009)
Photographs by Anandajoti Bhikkhu
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