Chen Hoon Teng Temple in Malacca

Melaka is known as ‘Heritage Town’. Populated by Chinese, Portuguese, Dutch and eventually the British. Over the last 600 years the town turned into a mix of heritage sites. You can walk around the city center from the Dutch town hall (it was slightly odd seeing Dutch street names in Malaysia), to China town and to Little India while smelling all the different types of food that come with the respective Countries. Though, even they had a windmill on the square, I didn’t find Dutch food ;)

The Chen Hoon Teng temple was built in 1645 and is the oldest functioning temple in the city. Below some photo’s I took around the temple and in a tea house down the  road.


Some history as found on

Cheng Hoon Teng Temple is not only a Taoist temple, it is also the oldest functioning temple in Malaysia. “Cheng Hoon Teng” literally means “Temple of Clear Clouds” in Chinese. Cheng Hoon Teng Templeis located in Jalan Tokong, also known as the Harmony Street. Jalan Tukang Emas, Jalan Tukang Besi, Jalan Tokong are the streets that makes up the entire Harmony Street. These streets are called Harmony Street because it portrays a sense of harmony between the major races in Malaysia and each of the temples of different religions are able to locate in close proximity with each other.  The temples here are the Cheng Hoon Teng Temple, the Kampung Kling’s Mosque and the Sri Poyyatha Vinayagar Moorthi Temple.

Cheng Hoon Teng Temple was founded by Chinese Kapitan Tay Kie Ki @ Tay Hong Yong in 1645.  The Kapitan position was created by the Portuguese as a head administrator to the local community.  This historical Cheng Hoon Teng Temple has a built up area of close to 60,000 square feet.  In its early years, besides serving the Chinese community’s religious needs (mainly Hokkien), Cheng Hoon Teng Temple also functioned as the official administrative centre and a court of justice for the Kapitans.

Besides Kapitan Tay Kie Ki, other prominent Kapitans that played an important role in the building of Cheng Hoon Teng Temple includes Kapitan Lee Wei King, Kapitan Chan Lak Kua and Kapitan Chua Su Cheong.  In 1704s, Kapitan Chan Ki Lock started the construction of the main hall. in 1801, Kapitan Chua Su Cheong was responsible for rebuilding of the main hall while the Kapitans and Teng Choos after him contributed towards the aesthetic and structural additions of the building. “Teng Choo” is the title given to the leader of the temple after the British abolished the Kapitan system in 1824.  Teng Choo assumed some of the Kapitan’s responsibilities .

The date 28 September 1949 marks a historical milestone for Cheng Hoon Teng Temple. The Parliament passed the Cheng Hoon Teng Temple Incorporation Ordinance 1949. It meant that Cheng Hoon Teng Templewas now officially sanctioned by an Act of Parliament, guaranteeing the temple’s future and its role as guardian of the community’s spiritual and cultural heritage. A Board of Trustees was formed after the ordinance to look after the temple. The prime mover, Tun Sir Tan Cheng Lock, became one of the first trustees under the Act. The other trustees then were Poh Kim Tiong, Chan Teck Chye, Loh Kim Swi, and Chee Guan Chiang.

Another historical milestone was in 1962, where Seck Kim Seng ordained Houn Jiyu-Kennett, a Zen nun from England and the founder of the Order of Buddhist Contemplatives in this temple. And in 2003, Cheng Hoon Teng Temple was awarded a UNESCO award for outstanding architectural restoration.


3 thoughts on “Chen Hoon Teng Temple in Malacca

    1. I wish I could do a little more travel indeed ;) I’m lucky enough to have a work trip planned that will give me some opportunity to explore though!

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