100+ years old San Bao Dong Cave Temple, Perak, Malaysia, Heritage reliogious site
Along with Batu Cave in Kuala Lumpur, San Bao Dong cave Buddhist temple and the accompanying caves temples in Ipoh ("Ba Loh", an old favorite name in Cantonese) are probably one of the few most famous religious temple locations in Malaysia. Strangely, when I asked a gentleman at the counter who sells joss sticks and others, he said the managing Monk was not entirely too keen on the issue of tracing the origin and history of San Bao Dong. All I can gathered from some old folks was, it was probably built in or earlier than 1887 which coincides with the neighboring Nan Tian Tong which recently celebrated it 119 years history.

San baotong Buddhist Cave Temple, Ipoh, Peark, Malaysia
However, whatever it is, all we know San Bao Dong was built by a (or a few) migrating Mahayana Buddhist monks where the Taoists were settled in the nearby Nan Tian Dong as neighbor. But according to another version, contruction of this temple into a full-scale Buddhist temple in 1926 was by a Monk named Qing Xin (1882~1955) from Guangxi Province, China. He was also the monk who first converted the Guang Fook Yan cave as temple earlier in 1917 (see an old picture of the temple at the index page). He was succeeded by ZongJian (19??-1981).

<<<--- An old picture of San Bao Dong (Tong) Buddhist Cave Temple, during early days, the picture was download from a forum posting from a pretty young lady at Ipoh.org. When you compare this old photo with the current state of the temple, it changed a lot.

Streets of Ipoh

I have been to San Bao Dong (Simplified Mandarin pronunciation) or Sam Bou Tong (local dialect, in Cantonese) on & off many times over the last couple of decades. Although the later years, whenever I come to this cave, I am more inclined to think it is a place where you can set aside my ever-tiring soul. This place simply offers a different ambient and calm you down. Partly, it is also due to my late parents are rested at the annexed block. In here, I find peace and comfort never experienced else where. Another reason could be the cool atmosphere as it is actually surrounded by rocky granite/limestone hills, with lush of green in tropical vegetation. Lastly, just like any religious spot, the serenity in what you are strongly believing into makes all the difference.

Well, even if you are not here for the sake of Buddhism, on its own, San Bao Dong Buddhist Cave Temple presents as a lovely site to visit. Inside or outside, there are numerous scenic sights to excite. For Chinese, it carries with a historical path which indirectly synchronizes with the development of the Chinese community in Ipoh. So, it is not only a place of worship for Buddhist, it is also a cultural and heritage centre of Malaysian Chinese in this city. The temple actually suffered a disastrous mudslide from a nearby opened cast tin mine in 1973 and took more than 5-6 years to repair the damages. Today, the temple maintainance was solebly based on charitable donation by locals and it is good for some of you to consider such a possible option in lending a hand in ensuring sustainability of this heritage site. Cave temples in general, have many presentable element for a tour or simply for geographical studies. For those who may be not able to take a visit due to religious reason, you may try the nearby
Gua Temburung as both locations are only less than 10 km apart. Enjoy.
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San Bao Dong Buddhist Cave Temple | Nan Tian Dong Taoist Cave Temple | Ling Xian Yan Buddhist Cave Temple
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Credit: To all the good people who have contributed their own experience, resources or those who are kind enough in granting us the permission to use their images that appeared on this site. Note: Certain content and images appeared on this site were taken by using a Canon PowerShot Pro-1 digital camera. Some materials appeared on this site were scanned from some leaflets, brochures or publications published by Wat Pak Nam and/or contribution from surfers who claimed originality of their work for educational purposes. The creator of the site will not be responsible for any discrepancies that may arise from such dispute except rectifying