Kwan Im Thong Hood Cho Temple

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Time Required: 1 hour


6:00 AM - 6:30 PM

Entry Fee:

No Entry Fee

Kwan Im Thong Hood Cho Temple, Singapore Overview

Kwan Im Thong Hood Cho Temple is one of Singapore's major Buddhist temples. It is a traditional Chinese temple and is dedicated to Kuan Yin or Avalokitesvara, the Goddess of Mercy. Located on 178 Waterloo Street, it has great significance in Chinese culture and to the Chinese community residing in Singapore. The Kwan Im Thong Hood Cho Temple is a very busy temple, often crowded with devotees praying to the Goddess for good luck.

This popular temple receives the maximum amount of devotees on the first and fifteenth day of the Chinese New Year, staying open throughout the night on the eve of the Chinese New Year. The street in the front of the temple is filled with throngs of devotees, all eager to enter the temple hall and offer their incense to Kuan Yin in an attempt to give their year an auspicious start. Joss sticks and flowers are among the most popular things offered to the Goddess by the pilgrims. The temple is also very popular for its divination predictions which are claimed to be highly accurate. These divinations are explained to the people through a book, available in both English and Chinese. After visiting the temple, devotees often collect sweets and flowers at the door, which are considered to be blessings.

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Most visitors at the temple indulge in divination, which the temple is famous for. Visitors have to shake a tin of sticks called the bamboo oracle, which will result in a stick coming out with a number attached. This number is then interpreted when presented at the counter. The interpretation is available in both Chinese and English and it has to be burned before leaving the temple. However, before shaking the bamboo oracle, the visitor has to pray to Kuan Yin and ask for advice. Several devotees hence, come here to know their fortune or to find a solution to their problems.

The Kwan Im Thong Hood Cho temple was originally constructed in 1884. Chinese temple architecture and traditional Buddhist craftsmanship could be seen abundantly throughout the temple. Devotees had to enter it through a porch and a screened anteroom after crossing a large porch. The main hall had three altars; the one in the middle was dedicated to Kuan Yin, while those flanking it were dedicated to Bodhidharma and Hua Tuo respectively. It also housed an image of the Sakyamuni Buddha in its rear hall. During the Second World War, the original temple served as a shelter for the sick, wounded and homeless. In 1985, the temple went through major reconstruction, resulting in the structure we see today.

In 1982, the temple went through major reconstruction, to accommodate the growing number of devotees. The elevated statue of Sakyamuni Buddha was positioned behind Kuan Yin, who along with the other gods, was placed on a single altar. Two separate roofs were built, each of a different height. A single grand gateway was built as the entrance, flanked by smaller ones. Bright and stunning shades of red, yellows, blues and greens were used to decorate and paint the gates. The roofs are decorated with curves, which signify good omen, and have beautiful yellow Buddhist swastikas on the edges. The tiles used within the temple hall used to be made of ceramic but have now been changed to granite ones.

A large number of devotees visit the temple on the first and 15th days of the lunar calendar. However, the eve of Chinese New Year is the most festive time. On this day, the temple is kept open throughout the night and innumerable devotees gather at the temple to offer incense to the Goddess of mercy for a positive start to their year.

  • Shoes are not allowed on the carpeted area of the Temple.
  • Photography and videography is not allowed within the Temple.
  • Visitors must remember to dress appropriately.
  • Visitors must take good care of their belongings, as there are several pickpockets around.

Visitors have to reach the Bugis MRT and take the Exit to the Bugis Junction. They then have to cross the road to the Bugis Street, from where it is a five-minute walk to the Temple.

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