Beautiful CavesTogether with pomelos and hor fun (Flat rice noodles), limestone caves are the more prominent attractions in Ipoh. Many of these limestone caves have been converted into Buddhist temples. I have been here many times, for religious reasons or to play tourist guide to foreign friends. A friend, visiting the caves for the first time, could not stop enthusing the beauty of their limestone structures. The grandeur of stalagmites and stalactites is indescribable. Suffice to say a visit will usually leave you breathless with delight. Cave temples are dotted in various corners of Ipoh, a former tin mining town. According to official records, there are five main temples and several smaller ones. The most well-known would be Sam Poh Tong and Perak Cave Temple, situated south and north of Ipoh city respectively. Over in the Perak Cave Temple, there are more than 300 Chinese paintings by Malaysian artists and their counterparts from Hong Kong, Singapore and South Korea. These paintings, which range from a meter high to giant ones, depict mythological objects from Chinese folk tales. In the main chamber, sits a 15-metre Buddha. Various chambers honoring deities like the Goddess of Mercy, Purschana and Maitreya are situated in the smaller caves. Winding steps in the temple also lead to the top of the caves, where visitors can enjoy a panoramic view of Ipoh. A charming Oriental rock garden greets visitors at the century-old Sam Poh Tong temple. Features of this rock garden include 11 artificial hills and waterfalls. Many bonsai plants and other Oriental-looking shrubs were also imported from Japan, Taiwan and Thailand to beautify the garden. There is also a tortoise pond and 18 Immortals corner in Sam Poh Tong. Because of its relaxing atmosphere, many Buddhist travel to Sam Poh Tong all year round to meditate in peace, and get away from the hustle and bustle of city life.
Published on 8/1/01