Thursday, January 05, 2012

Melaka Diary # 4 : A Holy Confluence

Kampung Kling mosque. Its architecture is based on Sumatran Hindu temples
It can be a heartening observation that the oldest places of worship in Malaysia for various faiths and religions are in Melaka only. Be it Chinese temple, Hindu temple, mosque or churches. Sounds interesting, doesn’t it!!! This underlines the fact that Melaka is the place where the present Malaysian state originated. And what’s more interesting is that one will not find anywhere in the world a Hindu temple, a Muslim mosque and a Buddhist temple in same street. Well, Melaka can boast of this. The street is aptly named as Harmony Street, where Cheng Hoon Teng temple, Kampung Kling mosque and Sri Poyyatha Vinayagar Moorthi temple have stood side-by-side for centuries. This street lies between Jalan Tokong and Jalan Tukang Emas. In Malay language, jalan is a synonym for street.

Christ Church at Town Square was built during the Dutch colonial rule
Let us talk about churches first. Historically, the first Christians in Malaysia arrived in Melaka in circa 1511 from Portugal. The first church in Melaka was built in 1521 on Saint Paul’s Hill. Originally named as Our Lady of the Hill by Portuguese, it was known as St. Paul’s Church during Dutch times. It is in ruins now, and is not used by Portuguese community of Melaka. Instead, they use St. Peter’s Church as their parish church. It is the oldest Roman Catholic church of Malaysia. It was built during Dutch rule in circa 1710 and combines various elements of Eastern and Western architecture.

Another one is Christ Church. Housed in a bright red coloured building at Town Square, this church was also built during Dutch rule in 1753 and is an exquisite example of Dutch architecture. The unique features of this church are its hand-made pews and ceiling beams constructed without a single joint. It is the oldest Protestant church in Malaysia and still used by Anglican community living in Melaka. After you are inside, you will have to store the interior in hard-disc of your brain only as photography is not allowed inside.

The offering altar, just inside the main gate of Cheng Hoon Teng temple
The oldest Chinese temple in the country is also in Melaka and called Cheng Hoon Teng Temple. This was built in 1646, and is dedicated to the Goddess of Mercy. The design and the figurines placed inside the temple are enough to leave you awe-struck. Well, you can always click your cameras here, and also, there is no need to remove your shoes outside.

Inside the mosque.... On the upper right side is the Victorian chandelier
Nearby the Chinese temple, there is the oldest mosque in Malaysia, called as Kampung Kling mosque. An interesting aspect of this mosque is that it is based on Hindu Sumatran architecture. Design of this mosque is pagoda-like, its roof is pyramid shaped and its minarets are Moorish-styled. There hangs a Victorian-style chandelier in the main prayer hall.

The oldest Hindu temple in Malaysia is also finds its home in Melaka. It is called Sri Poyyatha Vinayagar Moorthi Temple which was built in 1781. The temple is dedicated to Lord Ganesha, and is run by local Chitty and Chettiar communities. This temple features elements of South-Indian architecture such as minarets and eaves.

Text and Photos by Ajay Garg

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4 comments:

So good to see malaysia through your eyes !

पढ़ रही हूँ और जल रही हूँ...

Thank u, Rekha and Pratibha.... Melaka is really a quiet little place!!!

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