The Snake Temple Penang or the Temple of the Azure Clouds is one of the most unique places to visit in Penang, where humans and poisonous snakes live together. Chor Soo Kong, a beloved and deified monk, reputedly gave the snakes of the jungle shelter and healed the sick.
Reportedly, David Brown, a British resident prayed to this monk to heal him from his illness, he recovered and then Mr. Brown donated the land to build the temple in honor of the monk who cured him.
The snakes moved into the newly built temple, the monks thought it was a good omen, and they allowed the snakes to stay. The temple celebrates Chor Soo Kong’s birthday three times each year on the sixth day of the sixth and 11th months, but the biggest celebration is on the sixth day of the first lunar month, which is during the Chinese New Year.
Snakes can serve as protectors of Buddha and are often respected creatures, but the Snake Temple Penang is exceptional with its sheltering the reptiles. The snakes at the temple are poisonous Wagler’s pit vipers, whose venom destroys the tissue with which it comes into contact and generally is not fatal only very painful.
Some claim that the snakes have had their venom removed or the incense smoke sedates them, but the monks maintain the snakes are blessed and that is why they do not bite.
Admission to the temple is free and the signs warn that the snakes are real and capable of biting. They are colorful and very sluggish in the heat of the day and sometimes tourists wonder if they are alive and real.
Because of the confusion and mixed reports of whether the snakes at the temple are devenomed or defanged, it is best to follow the signs and do not disturb them.
A Chinese herpetologist runs the snake farm on the grounds of the Temple ant he has a variety of snakes such as, albino cobra, king cobra and anaconda. The snake farm charges admission and for an additional fee, you can buy pictures of yourself with snake around your neck or handle the snakes under the supervision of the herpetologist.
The Kek Lok Si Temple is the largest in Malaysia and another well-known temple in Penang but Snake Temple Penang has to be in the top things to do in Penang. The temple is more than its snakes as it has a 600-pound bell in the main hall that is rung on the first and 15th day of each Chinese calendar month to invite the occupants of heaven and hell to pray. The temple also honors the Deity of Prosperity and Moral as well as a wing, which gives homage to Kuan Yin, the Goddess of Mercy.
The Snake Temple Penang or the Fu Xing Gong is reputed to be the only such type of temple in the world and definitely is worth a visit. Visitors have access to the temple from 6 am to 7 pm, seven days per week.
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