Ipoh Cave Temples (Chapter 2) – The Mystical Perak Cave Temple (Perak Tong)November 19, 2011 | 4,457 views
I guess among all of the cave temples in Ipoh; Perak Cave (also named “Perak Tong”) has always been a stranger to me.
And I mean that in a non-biased way. I remember the vague details of our tortoises-feeding frenzy at Sam Poh Tong back when I was still a toddler. The squeal of delight when me and my brother tried to outdo each other when posing for shots with the colourful statues at Ling Sen Tong. Not forgetting the etched in memories picturesque scenery of Kek Look Tong and its many sublime rock formations; resembling real deities and animals.
But mention Perak Tong, and this black spot on my memory will block out any familiarity with the structure, location or the charm that lies beyond the cave temple. (There is a reasonably vast area behind of the cave; dotted with concrete stairs and lush natural flora where you can climb uphill, to podiums/pavilions where you can see the Ipoh city from way up there).
Thus, I mustered up the courage and ventured out to this mystifying place situated around Tasek industrial area. And here are the results …..
Are you aware that, in most Buddhist temples, shrines or sacred places, there will be stray dogs wandering about? (almost domesticated though, probably owing to the stream of peaceful chants)
Perak Tong has become one of the MOST popular tourist haunt not only in Ipoh, but in Malaysia. The easy to remember name of course helped somewhat, and the proper maintenance and strategic location were the other enablers (considerably easy to find, and near to both of the Ipoh exits on PLUS expressway; Ipoh Selatan and Ipoh Utara)
There are many colourful paintings on the walls on the inner portion of the cave. Even calligraphy from the masters, and some written by the son of the founders of Perak Tong.
Not as terrifying as one might think, the claimed 450 steps leading to the peak of the cave temple must have included the smaller steps, and parallel ones inside of the cave.
Yup, I bumped into a few Indians, and foreign citizens when I was there. Almost equal in number to the Chinese. Now … if only we can encourage the Muslims to visit attractions like this. The beautiful cave in its essence, not on a religious note.
Although the paved walkway, with hand rails appeared to be a walk in the park (literally), the steeper portions of the hill may require a little bit of effort/stamina. Hence, don’t ever climb in your suits, ties and tight pants. You’d be drenched in minutes.
A mini anaconda posing for the shot. I almost swiped this off the railings, had it not been the warning from a friendly stranger. Trust Motormouth and his clumsiness to devastate the flora and the fauna!
Now ….. I don’t mean to disappoint or sound like a sour grape, but aside from the breath taking view of the mountainous stretch kissing the blue, blue sky, the industrial area beneath is an eye sore. Don’t expect cool, fresh air like you would from platforms raised above sea level. For the industrial smog will choke you up in the late morning-afternoon.
There has been an unfortunate incident back in 2009, when the an unstable boulder on the hillside collapsed; injuring two and trapping 15 on the hill. (Read the full story from The Star). Thereafter, serious efforts have been made to ensure the safety of the hikers and tourists to Perak Tong. If you are wary of your safety, you can avoid climbing the stairs leading to the platforms beyond. But, that’s the highlight of visiting the cave temple anyway. Aside from the intricate calligraphy and paintings on the inner sanctum.
Two decades ago, these jovial kids could have been myself and my brother. I can still imagine walking in their shoes; when the only worries were missing our favourite cartoon shows on TV (Thundercats or TMNT anyone?), and the ultimate goal was the unrealistic ambition of becoming a pilot or a teacher. There was no deadline, money matters or traffic congestion to deal with.
Perak Tong has ample parking lots, though you can expect a few Indian men collecting ‘tips’ or fees from you. Almost too redundant, bordering on being a nuisance. The place is as safe as a temple can be, hence you don’t really need the ‘jaga kereta’ menace extending its arm to a holy ground like this.
On a positive note, they don’t demand a certain amount from you (unlike those guarding vehicles around the prime area of Ipoh). And I dropped some loose change, and that made him a jolly fellow alright.
What I remember most from the Perak Tong experiences back then is the Kuan Yin (Goddess of Mercy) statue set perched in the middle of the pond, facing the entrance of the cave.
“Perak Tong was found in 1926, by a couple named Chong Sen Yee and Choong Chan Yoke from the Jiao-Ling province of China. The husband passed on in 1980, and the wife 3 years later. The cave temple is being maintained and guarded by their son; Chong Yin Chat until today.”
“Don’t let the lights go out. Isn’t this a right time to introduce this heritage to the next generation?”
PERAK CAVE TEMPLE (PERAK TONG)
@ Jalan Tuanku Abdul Rahman (Jalan Kuala Kangsar)
Next to the Tasek Industrial area in Ipoh
GPS Coordinates : 4.643755,101.099643
Google Map to this place
*Read also the First Chapter in this series – Sam Poh Tong, Ling Sen Tong and Nam Tin Tong