Hong San See Temple

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Time Required: Less than 1 hour


8:00 AM - 6:00 PM

Entry Fee:

No entry fee

Hong San See Temple, Singapore Overview

Situated at the Mohamed Sultan Road in the river valley region within the central area, Hong San See is a Chinese temple constructed between the 1908 and 1913. Hong San See, meaning Temple on Phoenix Hill, is built on a slightly elevated ground. Earlier, it enjoyed the sea view from its premises, but now all that can be seen is only concrete. The temple is still beautifully preserved and is an epitome of Southern-Chinese temple architecture. The place of worship is adorned with beautiful inscriptions and carvings of dancing dragons. Hong San See was gazetted as a national monument in 1978. Followed by this, the shrine went through an extensive renovation process during 2006 to 2010.

As a result of restoration and preservation, the Hong San See temple was the first in Singapore to bag the Award of Excellence in 2010 by the UNESCO Asia-Pacific Heritage Awards for Cultural Heritage Conservation. It was originally erected by the people of Fujian province called Nan An County. The Fujian migrants had imported construction materials from China. It so happened that in 1907, the government acquired this land for reclamation of Telok Ayer Bay and compensated the temple authorities with SGD 50,000. The trustees then used this amount to lease land on a 999-year tenure on Mohamed Sultan Road. The temple was then rebuilt on high ground with a view of the sea.

More on Hong San See Temple

The entrance hall of Hong San See has granite plaques that date back to the 1860s, commemorating the donors of that time while modern plaques commemorate recent donors. Either side of the main entrance has engraved verses, glorifying the site's former excellent view and its affluent neighbourhood. The temple has four carved granite columns. At the entrance are also six-sided columns with entwined dragons and figures of eight immortal lords. A little ahead of the entrance are two columns with carvings of peony flowers, magpies and phoenixes.

The main hall consists of six solid timber columns that rest on carved granite bases. The black column has versus written by a Singaporean calligraphist, Pan Shou. A school had been using two of the temple's halls as classrooms since 1915-1925. The main doors of Chinese temples are shown more prominence. Hong San See's main door is made out of double-leafed timber and has paintings of phoenixes on it. This door is usually barred except on significant occasions. The eaves and roof ridges of the temple have Chien Nien ornamentation and plaster relief work over them.

Traditional Southern Chinese art of creating flowers, figures, leaves and other images with tiny pieces of vibrant porcelain is called Chien Nien. Exposed structural elements are another significant feature of traditional Chinese architecture. The walls of the Chinese temples do not support the roof but the columns which rest on the beams. Ingenious carpentry is manifested through the exposed structures. Two prancing dragons and a blazing pearl are designed in the centre of the roof ridge.

Somerset MRT lies at a walkable distance of 10 minutes.

The buses that stop at a walkable distance of 2 minutes to Hong San See temple are Bus 1N, 2N, 3N, 4N, 5N and 6N.

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