A few minutes’ walk from the Twin Towers on Jalan Ampang, on one of the busiest streets in Kuala Lumpur, sits the traditional Chinese gateway leading to the Kun Yam Thong Temple.
You may have passed this location numerous times without really noticing it. Perhaps you were concentrating on navigating the constant and heavy flow of traffic in this area.
Once inside the gate, you will find an oasis of relative calm which can be better if the temple did not allow visitors to park in their outer courtyard.
There has always been a temple on this site since 1880. It used to be called Deng Bi An Temple until it was taken over by the Dharma Realm Buddhist Association in 1993.
They are a group founded by Venerable Master Hsuan Hua in 1959, and have a strong following in the US and Taiwan.
This temple was renovated at great expense and reopened in 2006 as the Kun Yam Thong Temple.
The name literally means Guan Yin’s Hall and is named after the Goddess of Mercy, Guan Yin, whose statue with 1000 arms and 1000 eyes is on display inside.
More formally, the temple is known as the Dharma Realm Guan Yin Sagely Monastery.
The large Great Jewelled Hall is a peaceful and serene space dominated by a giant altar topped with three golden Buddha statues each weighing a ton; Shakyamuni Buddha, Medicine Master Buddha and Amitabha Buddha.
At the rear of the temple is a 500 seat dining area serving very affordable healthy, and delicious vegetarian lunches from 11am until 2.30pm daily.
This simple self-service restaurant does not use MSG and is very popular with business people working in the tall tower blocks surrounding the temple.
Quite a few veggie-loving tourists come here too to enjoy a tasty meal. On the first and 15th days of each lunar month food is served free-of-charge to the needy from 7.30am to 2.30pm.
The temple also has a library and a bookstore. Some books can be taken home in exchange for a donation. This temple is well worth visiting.
There is no admission fee but there are plenty of donation boxes to show your appreciation.
This article first appeared in Thrifty Traveller.