Otherwise known as the ‘Temple of Heavenly Happiness’, the Thian Hock Keng Temple is Singapore’s oldest Chinese temple. It was built between 1839 and 1842 by Mr Tan Tock Seng and Mr Si Hoo Keh and ably supported by the Hokkien community in the Sothern Chinese architectural style and interestingly, it was assembled without nails!
At the time of construction, Telok Ayer Street faced the sea and this was from where Singapore’s original colonial town planners developed inland. The temple was dedicated to Mazu, the Taoist Goddess of the Sea and Singapore’s earliest Chinese immigrants came here to give thanks for a safe passage across the unforgiving South China Sea.
The temple itself is beautifully ornate complete with detailed carvings and sculptured models of phoenixes, dragons and idols and look out for the Fujian porcelain tiles on the roof.
Daily busloads of tourists and students arrive at the temple which was gazetted as a national monument in in 1973 and it stands as an important religious monument as well as a reminder of the humble beginnings of Singapore’s Chinatown and it sits harmoniously amongst modern-day Chinatown’s restaurants and bars.