I used to watch ancient Chinese fantasy dramas where they featured beautiful god, goddesses and fairies and I will always be fascinated by the divine beauties and the fantasy of it. I still do watch that sort of costume drama every now and then upon recommendations by drama addicts like myself to pass time.
The stories like Journey to the West, Goddess of Mercy, Neza, Goddess Nuwa, the Four Heavenly Kings and many more made quite an impression on me and although it has been told many times in different ways and different adaptations, I still couldn’t get bored watching them. I suppose, I’m the romantic sort of person and I like such escapism.
Watching those ancient Chinese dramas sometimes makes me feel like I’m part of the tale. Sometimes I would imagine that I am a fairy princess or a Queen in Wonderland.
There are times where I wish that I belonged in the realms of Gods, and while I’m a mere mortal and does not belong in such world, I was fortunate enough to be given a chance to somewhat explore the realm of mortal, heaven and hell for a day. Well, almost. That’s a little exaggerating but that is how it felt like when my family and I visited Chin Swee Caves Temple two weeks back during one of our media trip with Resort World Genting.
Located at 4,600 feet above sea level, the temple is about 5–10 minutes’ drive from the peak of the mountain. There is plenty to see in the vicinity of the temple, even if you are not a worshipper. The temple itself is divided into a few sections and is one of the major tourist attractions in Genting Highlands. You don’t need to be a believer to visit the temple. As Chin Swee Caves Temple is a tourist attraction, people from all walk of life is welcome to visit. It is a place of worship, and therefore, no entrance fees is imposed. Offerings, monetory donations for temple maintenence on the other hand is welcomed.
As a non believer, I could say that the temple is divided into three ‘realms’, which is The Mortal Realm, Hell Realm and The Heavenly Realm. Or perhaps, one could commonly refer to it as Heaven, Hell and Earth.
Part of the Mortal Realm is the place of worship. A prayer hall where prayers are offered and divinations are asked from the temple deities.
Entrance to the Chin Swee Caves Temple is guarded by four divine guards, two on each entrance of the temple. I’m not quite familiar with the guard statues that’s guarding the temple entrance but I was told that the four guards are actually the devils who tried to burn and kill Chin Swee Deity. However they failed and ended up becoming the guardians of the deity.
Chin Swee Caves Temple is the home to the divine Chin Swee Deity. Here’s a video introduction on the history of Chin Swee Caves Temple and how and why it was built by Miss Irene Chua, the PR of Resort World Genting.
Chin Swee Deity’s statue sat grandly at the altar. Here is where devotees burn incense as prayer offering and asks for divination or fortune tellings.
Prayer items. Gold paper offering, incense, fortune telling sticks and divination stones.
Devotees burning incense as an offer of their prayers to the deity.
Devotees burning the paper at the burning chamber for praying purposes.
Asking for divination from the deity via the fortune telling sticks. The person would pray and ask question silently before taking the container and shaking it til one of the sticks fall out. There are numbers or wordings on it that represent the answer to their prayers or questions and they can get it intrepreted by priest or priestess in the temple.
Chin Swee Caves temple may look very homey and intricately build. But the truth is that it was painstakingly built inaide a large cave, hence the name. Here’s one obvious part of the temple that still looks like a cave, the holy water spring.
Darkly mysterious, the water spring is believed to have healing properties,and visitors would usually have a sip of it for cleansing or blessing purposes.
Part of the mortal realm in Chin Swee Caves temple is a beautiful manmade garden.
The garden is inhabited by turtles.
Turtles is usually associated with prosperity and longevity and here’s their little sanctuary in Chin Swee Caves Temple.
Part of the Chin Swee Temple, the Goh Tong Hall. Named after the founder of Resort World Genting, the late Tan Sri Lim Goh Tong.
Closer look at the Goh Tong Hall
Beautiful scenery. This spot is a favourite among vistors for photography purposes.
Moving further from the Mortal Realm, there’s Hell and Heavenly Realm.
To reach the Heaven, one would have to make a trip through the path in Journey to enlightment and pass through the tortures of Hell.
A giant Buddha statue can be seen sitting serenely at the hilltop, guarding the path to Heaven and Hell.
There is a few levels of Hell and it is pretty gory and horrifyingly graphic. Since I’m not a huge fan of anything terrifying or horrid, I’ll just share a few things. Like most Hell depicted in major religions of the world like Christian and Islam, Hell is a place where mortals goes after their death to receive their retributions for their evil deeds and wrongdoings when they were alive.
Punishments are usually severe and merciless and executed without any mercy.
After walking through hell over here, one would literally repent and do good. The punishment is beyond human understandings and endurance.
The last phase of Hell. The memory management. Part of Buddhists belief is that one soul can be reborn many times. But to enter a new life and be reborn and live in a new incarnation, one will have to forget everything about their past life. For that to be possible, those who are going to be reborn will be given the soup of forgetfulness ‘Meng Po Ting’ before being thrown back to Earth in their new incarnation. All the memories of their past life will be erased.
To be reincarnated as human in the next life or not depends on one’s good deeds.
Hell is not forever. At least at Chin Swee Caves Temple it is not. Once you’re done taking a stroll through Hell, you will stumble upon the statue of a Buddha and it will point you to the pathway of heaven where heavenly beings and creatures awaits your arrival.
Guan Yin, Goddess of Mercy is one of the deity that you will stumble upon before proceeding to Heaven.
Here’s a scene where seven Fairies escorting the Jade Empress, the wife of the Jade King, the ruler of Heaven.
The three Gods. Also known as the Three Stars or in Chinese, Sanxing. They are Fu, Lu, and Shou, the personification of Prosperity (Fu), Status (Lu), and Longevity (Shou) in the Chinese traditional religion. The term is commonly used in Chinese culture to denote the three attributes of a good life.
One of my favourite story from the Chinese folklore,Journey to The West, depicting the adventure of the Monk Xuan Zhang and his diciples to the West on order to obtain the sacred Sutras. In this story, he is guarded by three protectors who agree to help him as an atonement for their sins. These disciples are Sun Wukong the Monkey King, Zhu Wuneng and Sha Wujing, together with a dragon prince who acts as Xuanzang’s steed, a white horse.
The mischievous Monkey King, Sun Wukong.
A Pagoda can be seen from ‘Heaven’. It is open to visitors from 10am to 4pm daily.
Breathtaking view from the top of the temple ground.
To see the depiction of heaven and hell via realistic scene brought to life through statues is indeed interesting and educational to me and my family. Should you have a chance to drive up to Genting Highlands, do drop by this place and give it a visit with an open mind. For what it’s worth, Chin Swee Temple is much more than just a place of worship. It is a gateway to another world.
To drive up, refer to Waze or Google Map. Below is the address for your reference.
Chin Swee Caves
69000 Genting Highland,