Upon arrival at Leong San See (dialect name of Dragon Mountain Temple), one will surely be awed by the impressive Chinese architecture. From exterior to interior, the vibrant colours and intricate carvings are exquisite works of art. Various holy figurines of bodhisattvas and deities present a visual feast for unassuming visitors. For the devotees, this is a divine place of worship that can bridge connections across three realms: the Heaven, Earth and Underworld.
Established in 1913 by a monk named Reverend Chun Wu, the origins of Singapore’s Dragon Mountain Temple can be traced back to An Ping District of the Fujian (Hokkien) Province in China. Another temple with the same name exists there. The façade of this century-old Taoist temple boosts a much talked-about roof that features a sea of dancing ceramic dragons. Interestingly, the abundant decoration of Buddhist flags reveals the (often) blurred lines between Taoism and Buddhism in Singapore. Many devotees would not know the differences and it does not really matter. (As long as the seeking of blessings give way to the peace of mind.)
Note: Some guides will identify this temple as a Buddhist temple but I recognised it as a temple that incorporates Taoism and Buddhism due to certain elements (e.g. the deities, worshiping methods), which I will not go into further details here.
Have I mentioned that the entire structure of the temple was assembled without nails? Inside, the main hall houses intricate statues of bodhisattvas and deities. The temple is dedicated to the Goddess of Mercy (Kuan Yin) and the Sakya Muni Buddha, which can be seen at the main altar. Other statues include the chivalrous Sword Brothers of the Three Kingdoms, Goddess of Fertility (Zhu Sheng Niang Niang) and City God (Cheng Huang). Besides that, there is Confucius who commands great respect from students and their zealous parents. Soft, melodious music flowed in the background, invoking a sense of calm.
Going beyond the main hall, the spacious backyard that leads to the ancestral worship hall reminds me of another temple (Poo Thor Jee Temple) at Tanjong Pagar, which I frequent on an annual basis to pay respect to my ancestors. Later, I was delighted to know that both temples are affiliated.
Ancestor worship is very much a Chinese tradition that goes beyond religion. It also helps to cultivate kinship values like filial piety and family loyalty. In a way, I supposed it provides a ‘channel’ to relieve the longings for our loved ones who are no longer with us.
Did you know that clockwise circumambulation is a sign of respect in the Buddhist and Hindu traditions? This is also practised in the Dragon Mountain Temple whereby devotees are encouraged to walk in a clockwise direction within the temple.
I was very impressed with what I saw at the Dragon Mountain Temple and wondered why I have not heard about/visited before. I checked with the caretaker prior to taking photos, as some places of worship do not allow photography. I was pleasantly surprised when the caretaker gives the go-ahead, and I snapped away appreciatively at the sacred pieces of art.
All visitors are welcome, regardless of your faith. If you enjoy architecture, art or cultures, do visit the Dragon Mountain Temple with an open mind.
More photos taken at Leong San See (Dragon Mountain Temple):
Leong San See / Dragon Mountain Temple
Address: 371 Race Course Road (5 minutes walk from Farrer Park MRT station)
Operating Hours: 7:30am to 5pm
Tel: 6298 9371
The above information has been compiled based on various sources, including my own experience and should only be used as a reference. For more information, please check out: http://www.beokeng.com/disptemple.php?temple=leong-san-see