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History on The Snake Temple or HOCK HIN KEONG

The Penang Snake Temple was built in 1820 in Bayan Lepas to pay homage to a renowned healer from China.  It is also known as "Ban Kah Lan Chua Beow" (in Hokkien) or Temple of the Azure Clouds and the temple’s resident Deity is Cheng Chooi Chor Soo Kong.  He was deified in Fujian after he brought rain to the drought area of Qing Yi.  He was also a master healer.  In the 18th Century, a monk arrived from China, bringing with him the statue of Cheng Chooi Chor Soo Kong.  The monk then built a temple for this Deity in a clearing by the Sungai Keluang in Bayan Lepas, on the 4-1/2 acres of land donated by the family of the Estate of David Brown.  It was to show their appreciation to the monk for curing and restoring the health of one of the members of the Brown family.  (Source:  Trustees of Hokkien Kongsi, Penang)

According to stories handed down by our forefathers, snakes from the surrounding area mysteriously appeared in the temple after its completion.  To the monk, it was a good omen and an auspicious sign from Heaven.  He immediately gave shelter to the snakes and allowed them to stay in the temple.  So far, only Wagleri pit-vipers (common name temple pit-vipers), which are nocturnal, arboreal and venomous snakes, are found in this temple.  They appear docile and oblivious to the close proximity of curious visitors because, being nocturnal creatures, they sleep in the daytime.

Located within the temple site are two historical wells.  According to local folklore, the two wells represent a pair of eyes of a heavenly dragon.  After the completion of the temple, it was said that the Door of Heaven opened and a dragon (representing the heavenly spirit) appeared above the temple and danced several times to bestow blessing upon the devotees.  Finally, it landed in front of the temple with its tail facing west, its body towards the east and its two eyes in the direction of north-east.  It was believed that this extraordinary position signified the best fengshui position.

The pair of eyes of the heavenly dragon then became the two wells, the left one is 10 ft deep and 3 ft in diameter and the well on the right is 10 ft deep and 2 ft in diameter.  As the water flowing in the wells was clear and sweet, it became a source of water supply for the villagers living in the vicinity of the temple. Those who drank from the wells had good fortune, good health and long life.  It was believed that the fengshui wells were divine gifts from Cheng Chooi Chor Soo Kong.

There is also a 600 lb antique bell from China, a relic from 1886, hanging in the main hall.  Devotees can hear the bell ringing on the 1st and 15th days of each month of the Chinese lunar calendar to invoke the blessing of Cheng Chooi Chor Soo Kong upon all devotees.

Since its construction in 1820, the Snake Temple has undergone several renovation and restoration projects, the latest being in 2008.  During the year-long restoration work in 2008, the roof was carefully restored using porcelain shards to decorate the mythical creatures and figurines.  This type of porcelain cut-and-paste shard work is called "Chien Nien".  The interior of the temple was also restored to its former splendour.  During the restoration process, the snakes were taken out of the temple to protect them, and were only returned to the altars upon completion of the restoration project.

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