Street of Harmony, aka Pitt Street, in George Town, Penang, is a unique street where four religious monuments were erected within a span of 800 meters by migrants from various places in the 19th century. The four sacred places are St. George’s church, Shri Mahamariamman temple, Goddess of Mercy Temple, and Kapitan Kelling Mosque. Each one of these places are a place of worship for different members of the culturally diverse Penang community. But each one welcomes everyone. How beautiful!
St. George’s church is the oldest Anglican Church in South-East Asia and was constructed between 1817 and 1818. During World War II the church was badly damaged, so that today, the only original artifacts left are the bishops chair and the baptism font. The Francis Light Memorial located in the front of the church was built to commemorate the founding of Penang in 1786 by Captain Francis Light. The building is a stark white church surrounded by vibrant green grass and most of the time contrasted with a beautiful blue sky.
The Goddess of Mercy temple is a place of worship for both the Cantonese and Hokkien community. The actual name of the temple is Kong Hock Keong which means “temple of Cantonese and Hokkien community” but here in Penang, it is known as the Goddess of Mercy temple. When you walk up to this temple you are greeted by the scent of incense and the smiling statue of a cheerful laughing buddha. The temple has a familiar Chinese design with a roof adorned with dragons. As you walk in you noticed the beautiful ornate doors and you see the origin of the Chinese culture. The temple has 3 water wells: one outside for everyone to use, one that is only used by the monks, and a third hidden under the altar that represents a dragon head.
Shri Mahamariamman temple is situated right in the middle of Penang’s Little India was constructed in 1801 after the southern Indian community realized its need for a proper temple ground to worship. Its elaborate artwork is stunning and the architecture is so colorful and eye-catching. The art pieces inside were made by hand by renowned southern Indian artists. All the sculptures clearly show the magnificent workmanship of the artists. It is a stunning temple on Penang island.
Kapitan Kelling Mosque is the largest mosque in George Town and looks beautiful at sunset. A long walkway leads up to the main prayer hall of this Mosque, with arches sweeping along its outer passageway. As you walk into the mosque you can’t miss the celestial-white Gothic, Moorish and Roman arches. The walls are covered with calligraphy panels and stained-glass windows. The floor is solid white marble covered with rows of prayer rugs. I loved the sparkling chandelier that hangs above.
All these monuments started as small structures that later were enlarged to fit the growing congregations in Penang. We found Penang to be a city rich in multi-cultural heritage with a diverse community that harmonizes together.