Ipoh Cave Temples (Chapter 3) – Kek Look Tong; An Ethereal LandscapeNovember 20, 2011 | 10,014 views
And now …. ladies & gentlemen, put your hands up for the FINALE of the series … the last “Tong” (Cave Temple) in Ipoh that I’d like to entice you with;
“KEK LOOK TONG”
Kek Look Tong (official website) is a winner of many local best landscape awards; accolades from the local government for non-Muslim houses of worship; rewarding that extra mile the temple committee went through to build and maintain a world-class facility with breath-taking scenery.
No doubt locating this gem in Ipoh takes a few daring turns, and the driver’s instincts come into play more often than not. Hands down the most secluded of all the other cave temples in Ipoh (aside from one Tibetian temple, that’s even more remote, but let’s leave that for another day), Kek Look Tong is hidden deep within the residential area of Gunung Rapat (of the well-reviewed Heong Peng fame).
Ready for the onslaught of pictures? Here goes …..
Kek Look Tong started off in the 1960’s as ‘Tien Hou Gong’ by the late Chooi Ah Kee, an iron mine operator. In 1982, his son handed over the prayer section of the cave to Kek Look Seah, a non-profit, charitable organization. The committee henceforth developed the inner segment of the cave and reclaimed the swampy area near the back entrance of the cave (now overlooking the gorgeous lakes and the evergreen field sharing borders with the blue skies and limestone hills).
(edited excerpts from their official website)
The shape of the cave was said to resemble a carp (a carp can be a species of the many oily, freshwater fish native to Europe and Asia), hence renovations revolved around this concept to preserve this idealistic resemblance as much as possible.
“The front entrance of the cave is likened to the head of the dragon carp, its mouth open to the heavens. The stairs leading downwards to the rear cave entrance symbolizes the throat of the carp, the cavernous back entrance the belly of the fish. There are even gill-like limestone formations on both sides of the “head” and a curious evergreen hanging rock formation, covered with moss, at the hind cavern that resembles the gallbladder.” (taken from www.keklooktong.org)
See that evergreen, moss-covered formation that’s an anomaly in the upper left picture? When we were small, we were always fascinated by this particular stalactite hanging precariously from the top of the cavern, highly visible even from afar. And that green formation was said to resemble the gallbladder of the ‘giant dragon carp’ that’s the essence of what Kek Look Tong is built upon.
Suffice to say, we were always looking forward to a visit to Kek Look Tong because of the back portion of the cave temple, more than the inner shrine and majestic formations within. When you have close to 12 acres of land that this cave temple is built upon, largely populated by beautiful limestone hills of Ipoh, lush foliage of trees, bushes and flowers, and two lakes seated side by side, why shouldn’t you look forward to the visit?
A dragon and a phoenix, perpetually embedded in ‘gold’ and surrounding the paved walkways encircling the perimeters of the lakes and the garden within. There are more statues and miniature artworks displayed around the meticulously-landscaped garden now; a reassuring thought proving that the committee has never abandoned the thought of escalating Kek Look Tong into a level beyond its original intent.
Now, I just love this shot. Not a self-compliment (‘masuk bakul angkat sendiri‘?), but more so because of the refreshing notion one gets from observing the surroundings composed in this picture.
How could you not fall in love with an evergreen field of properly prunes trees, trimmed grasses and towering trees reaching to the blue skies?
The orange hues of the limestone formations behind of the temple always reminded me of the Indiana Jones series of movies; back in the 90’s. Of course, being a smallish 3-4 footer back then rendered the experience even more mesmerizing when I looked up to the skies and saw all the vines hanging from above, and droplets of (sacred?) water from way up the hills creating a strong image of serenity in the mind.
The towering menace at the back of this shot is the only thorn; a gargantuan one set amidst the landscape of incomparable excellence. I believe this ‘Eiffel tower’ was met with protests back when they wanted to build this on the land. To no avail, I guess.
When we were kids, it was always a challenge to the creative minds in making out the natural formations set within the cave. Can you spot a few from the collage above?
YES! Gimme a HUGE High Five for completing the Ipoh Cave Temples saga within the time limit set by my undisciplined self. I know some of you might have been wondering whatever has happened to this Motormouth now …. from a dedicated (almost obsessive) food blogger to writing on ….. CAVES and GARDENS now?
It will be Visit Perak Year in 2012, and I have faith that the local government and Tourism Malaysia CAN work hand in hand (also dependent on the outcome of the impending GE lah) to elevate Perak to a tourism hotspot that sits on the same altar (hehe, cliched I know …) with the other famous states of Malaysia.
KEK LOOK TONG
Gunung Rapat, Ipoh, Perak, Malaysia
Opens daily from 7am – 7pm.
GPS Coordinates : 4.559869,101.129272
Refer to this page for very concise directions from their website.
Google Map to Kek Look Tong and the other cave temples in Ipoh