Tuesday, January 22, 2008

An outing with the Jesuits - Part 3

After leaving our memorable tour of the convent and the good Sr. Fidelis, we passed several notable edifices towards our next destination.

First off, just opposite the Convent is the newly restored Court House. A section of the complex can be seen in the photo below.


We then passed the Anglican St. George's Church which was built in 1816, the very first Anglican Church in South East Asia. The founder, Rev. Robert Sparke Hutchings also went on to found my own alma mater, the Penang Free School. The cost of the building, 60 thousand Spanish dollars, is equal to the cost the British paid for Singapore. The traditional Georgian Palladium architecture makes it one of the unique buildings in Penang. The huge Grecian columns remind one of buildings such as the Parthenon in Athens.


Penang has a huge Chinese population, one of the largest concentrations in South East Asia. And as such, there are huge numbers of Buddhist temples. But the Kuan Yim Teng of temple of the Goddess of Mercy is unique because it's a fully functional temple, with devotees visiting it daily.

Constucted in the 1800's, it is the earliest Buddhist Temple in Penang and right down the road from St. George's and the former Assumption Cathedral.

No, they were not greeting us with Ecce sacerdos magnus and incense.

Here's a glimpse of the inner sanctum housing the temple idols.


There's a courtyard further in which houses another set of idols. As you can see, the flow of people never ebbs.

Mark having the rare distinction of instructing Jesuits

From there, a hundred metres away, we visited a Mohammedan place of worship, the Kapitan Keling Mosque. Kapitan Keling is literally the Captain of the Indians-Muslims. The British, who had a policy of divide and rule, had separate leaders or ethnarchs for each community.



Also founded in the 1800's, this monumental building crowned by copper domes is the largest historic mosque in Penang. The Islamic Propagation Society is also housed here, in the minaret.


When we arrived, some people were praying, reading, etc. We were not allowed into the main prayer hall, but were allowed to access the surrounding corridors.



Note the 99 names of the Muslim deity Allah on the wall

You can see the large ornately carved wooded pulpit or minbar and the mihrab or niche in the wall which indicates the kiblat or direction of Mecca towards which all Muslims pray. Of course it had earlier been towards Jerusalem but when the Jews could not be hoodwinked into accepting Muhammad, he changed the direction of prayer towards Mecca which the majority of his converts already held sacred. Anyway... moving on.


Here are the adventurers in a group pic in the mosque.


And here we are on the bus home. We were supposed to be back at five, but miscalculations and a very late bus taking a very indirect route caused us much delay.

On the bus with the most circuitous route. That's why its empty save for us.

All in all, it was a good trip and I hope you guys enjoyed it as much as we did.


The novices helping themselves to some Islamic propaganda, below. Interested, anyone?


So, if you're coming to Penang and game for a tour, you know who to call.


Anonymous said...


Anonymous said...

"Also founded in the 1800's, this monumental building crowned by copper domes is the largest historic mosque in Penang."

Could you please tell us the location of this Mosque. Thanks.