Coiled pit vipers snoozing in the warmth of the sun, lazy pythons coiling around tree branches, soft music in the background, soft golden rays hitting the intricate temple roof, wafting fragrances of incense and a deep scent of history permeating the air: this is what the Snake Temple in Penang is all about. A bit of history, a bit of tradition, a bit of culture and a lot of snakes snoozing away and lugubriously moving about the temple floors and walls: this is what you get when you visit this destination!
One of the best places to visit in Malaysia, the Snake Temple in Penang has to be on your list of things to do in Penang. Think about it: where else will you get an abundance of history, an understanding of the Chinese culture, a feel for the truly exotic and a wild adrenalin rush at being up and close with snakes such as pythons and pit vipers? This is why the Snake Temple in Penang has to feature on your itinerary of where to go in Penang!
One of the biggest tourist attractions in Southeast Asia, the Snake Temple is nestled in the heart of Sungai Kluang in the Bayan Lepas town of Penang. This temple has a very interesting and colorful history going all the way back to the year 1850, when it was built to honor the memory of the Buddhist Chinese monk Chor Soo Kong, a priest and healer who used to give shelter to the snakes of the jungles.
When it was first built, it was given the name Temple of the Azure Cloud, in accordance to the bright blue skies of Penang. According to local myths, the snakes moved in of their own accord soon after it was complete. This was taken to be a positive omen by the monks and the snakes were allowed to stay and breed in the temple.
When you’re deciding where to go in Malaysia, you might want to consider the Snake Temple for its excellent architecture. Unique to Penang, the Snake Temple is a quaint masterpiece, built to resemble the temples in Southern China. Built on land donated by David Brown who was said to be cured by Chor Soo Kong after praying to him, this temple is quintessentially Chinese with its lovely painted Door Gods, cut-glass porcelain roof sculptures, winding altars and colorful dragon motifs.
One of the ultimate points of interest within the temple is the huge 600 pound bell that is a remnant of the Manchurian Dynasty and today tolls to call the devoted.
The Snake Temple of Penang is probably one of the only temples in the world to have the honor of being home to a very large variety of snakes. Here’s the thing about the Snake Temple: the snakes that live here are very docile, while their counterparts in the forests can be extremely dangerous. This is believed to be due to the heady smoke and fragrance emanating from the incense sticks that burn continuously through the day and night within the temple. Also, to protect visitors who come to the temple, all the poisonous vipers have been de-venomed. Many visitors to this temple love to take snaps with the snakes. For this privilege, you may have to pay up to 30 Ringgits.
Famed for being home to many vipers and pythons, the Snake Temple gives you a chance to explore the nuances of the unique Penang culture in the depths of exotic Southeast Asia! However, there’s one thing you need to remember: These snakes may have been milked of their venom but they can still deliver a nasty bite, so try not to aggravate them into attacking you.
When heading to Penang, please ensure that you adapt the global eco-tourism principles. As far as the Snake Temple is concerned, it is very ancient and a big part of the culture and tradition of the Penang people. While there, please be very aware of the environment around you and help conserve this beautiful piece of the past for the future generations to enjoy.