In the incredible Snake Temple, Penang has one of its most breathtaking, most intriguing places of interest. Penang, or more accurately the town of Bayan Lepas, is unique in having a site of worship featuring jungle serpents.
Buddhist sculptures, art and the soft sounds of Buddhist prayer penetrate the veils of burning incense that swirl around the coiled pit vipers. Opinions vary on whether the snakes have been de-venomed, or are stunned by the aroma of the incense or are merely tame. Over all the years, there have been no instances of harm by the snakes to any of the temple's visitors.
The healer and the snakes
Around 1850, a Buddhist monk is believed to have been responsible for the construction of the temple, which was dedicated to the memory of Chor Soo Kong, an eminent figure during the Song Dynasty. Legend states that Kong was a renowned healer, spiritually ordained when he was only a child, who sheltered jungle snakes.
The legend and its beliefs seeped through to generations after and to date, many devotees from as far as Taiwan and Singapore visit the temple on Char Soo Kong's birthday in venerated honour and reverence.
Bayan Lepas is also the location of the Penang International Airport and numerous other attractions.