The Kek Lok Si Temple (simplified Chinese: 极乐寺; traditional Chinese: 極樂寺; Pe̍h-ōe-jī: Ki̍k-lo̍k-sī; Penang Hokkien for "Temple of Supreme Bliss" or "Temple of Sukhavati") is a Buddhist temple situated in Air Itam in Penang and is one of the best known temples on the island. It is said to be the largest Buddhist temple in Southeast Asia. The temple is heavily commercialised with shops at every level and inside the main temple complexes. Mahayana Buddhism and traditional Chinese rituals blend into a harmonious whole, both in the temple architecture and artwork as well as in the daily activities of worshippers.
The construction of the temple began in 1893 and was inspired by the chief monk of the Goddess of Mercy Temple at Pitt Street. With the support of the consular representative of China in Penang, the project received the sanction of the Emperor Guangxu, who bestowed a tablet and gift of 70,000 volumes of the Imperial Edition of the Buddhist Sutras. The primary benefactor of the Kek Lok Si Temple in 1906 was Kapitan Chung Keng Quee.
Most visitors approach the temple as they ascend a stairway, roofs of which provide shelter to a multitude of shops selling souvenirs and other - mostly secular - commodities. They pass by a so-called Liberation Pond, following the buddhist tradition of merit-making, turtles may be released into freedom, albeit a limited one.
The temple itself consists of several large halls for assembly and prayer, here, statues of Buddha, various Bodhisattvas as well as Chinese gods are being venerated. Intricate woodwork, often brightly painted and a plethora of lanterns add to the visual impression.
The temple is a focal point of festivals of the Chinese community in Penang. The Chinese New Year celebrations are particularly impressive. For 30 days following Chinese New Year, the temple remains open until late at night whilst thousands of lights turn the scenery into a sea of light.