Penang is undoubtedly famous for its historical buildings and beautiful temples. In Penang, you will see many beautifully designed temples scattered throughout its capital city of Georgetown. Han Jiang Ancestral Temple in Chulia Street is amongst one the numerous beautiful temples in Penang that you could visit here.
The magnificent Han Jiang Ancestral Temple Penang was built in 1870 whenever a sizeable number of Teochew Chinese from the Chaozao province of China began to be in in Penang. Originally this Penang temple was called the Teochew Kongsi, functioning as a clan association building, before it had been renamed to Han Jiang Ancestral Temple in 1935. Han Jiang Ancestral Temple is considered to be the best-maintained Teochew temple in all South-east Asia and has won the 2006 UNESCO Asia-Pacific Award for cultural heritage conservation.
Once you look at Han Jiang Ancestral Temple from the road you’d probably be correct in mistakenly assuming that Penang temple looks like every other Chinese temple in this island state. However, whenever you step into this magnificent Penang temple you will feel like you have been transported back in time especially whenever you go through the temple’s well-preserved 19th century architectures.
This Penang temple was originally designed with a four-point gold quadrangle design. Once the Teochew community in Penang had finally prospered, an ornate Chinese-style outer gate building was added to this Penang temple hoanh phi. A very important factor you will be interested to know about this Penang temple is so it has the greatest entrance door in Penang when compared to one other clan temple buildings in this island state. It can also be one of the few temples which can be allowed to own three doors rather than just one or two doors. The reason being the shrine of Shang Di Gong, the best of the Chinese deity, is inside the temple.
Another interesting feature you will notice about this Penang temple is its insufficient windows. This Penang temple four-point gold quadrangle design air-well is gourd-shaped which symbolises the holding of money. The absence of windows is believed to prevent money from leaking right out of the temple.
If you have a look as of this Penang temple massive main door panels, you will see that the panels are intricately decorated with the motifs of the imposing Door Guardians, Qin Shu Bao and Yuchi Gong, with their unique gold-coloured helmets. Once you take pictures beside the doorway and compare your own height with it you will understand why the entrance door is recognized as the greatest one in Penang.
If you turn your gaze upwards, you can see the conventional Teochew architecture reflected in the rectangular spiral cross beams constructed above the key cross beam. Take a wander to the outer hall of the Penang temple and you will see the beautiful altar specialized in the Teochew patron deity who is recognized as the Taoist god of the north. There’s also plenty of stone ancestral tablets placed here. Above this altar is a published plaque with gold letterings.
The 2nd hall of the Penang Temple houses the shrine of Shang Di Gong. You will notice that the big courtyard of the second hall is tiled with granite slabs and has several plants such as for example pomegranates, lotus and bamboos growing here. As you go through the gateway, you can see the statues of three carps. Meanwhile the rooftop is decorated with two beautiful statues of green dragons. It’s believed that once the carps jumped the gate they’ll be transformed into dragons.
You can see three altars with incense urns in this Penang temple third hall. There’s also ancestral tablets containing the names of the Teochew community’s forefathers and community leaders. From the numerous ancestral tablets placed here you can obviously have an expression that Han Jiang Ancestral Temple emphasises on honouring the legacy of the prior generations who made their house in Penang.