Escape from Singapore's city life and visit the Toa Payoh housing estate to find peaceful sanctuary at this Buddhist/Confucian monastery. As the oldest Buddhist monastery in Singapore, Lian Shan Shuang Lin Monastery is the only Buddhist monastery that has become a National Monument, emphasising its historical and architectural value to the community.
Shan Shuang Lin Monastery, or Siong Lim in Hokkien, which literally means 'Twin Grove of the Lotus Mountain Temple', was built in 1902 by a wealthy Hokkien merchant Low Kim Pong.
The story goes that Low Kim Pong and his son dreamed of a sacred man who was radiating golden light, coming from the West to Singapore. The dream was fulfilled when Venerable Xian Hui and his family of 12 nuns and monks on a boat reached Singapore from their six-year pilgrimage to India, Ceylon (or present-day Sri Lanka). Low Kim Pong shared with Venerable Xian Hui his plans to build a monastery in Singapore, Venerable Xian Hui became the founding abbot of Luan Shan Shuang Lin Monastery.
Lian Shan Shuang Lin Monastery's unique architectural style was the result of a collaboration between a range of craftsmen from three main counties in Fujian province - namely Fuzhou, Quanzhou and Zhangzhou counties - and Chaozhou county from Guangdong province, reflecting the integration of various immigrant groups in Singapore at the time. Its design was also influenced by the Xi Chan Si temple in the state of Liang, the temple that Venerable Xian Hui had stayed in prior to his pilgrimage.
It has three halls, the Hall of Celestial Kings, the Mahavira Hall and the Dharma Hall. You'll find the unique architecture of the monastery and intricate detailing of the Buddhas. Take pictures of the elaborately decorated gateways and the pagodas. If you arrive on the first and 15th days of the Chinese lunar months, you may also get to sample some vegetarian food in exchange for a small donation.
Savour the carefully thought out architectural design and well-preserved monuments juxtaposed against the quiet saffron-robed monks padding down the corridors and the bustling jostle of the temple devotees paying their respects.