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Front view of Snake Temple
|History and governance|
|Creator||Chor Soo Kong (祖師公)|
The Snake Temple (Chinese: 蛇庙; pinyin: Shé Miào; Pe̍h-ōe-jī: Tsuâ-biō) is situated in Sungai Kluang, Bayan Lepas, Penang, Malaysia and is perhaps the only temple of its kind in the world. The temple is filled with the smoke of burning incense and a variety of pit vipers. The vipers are believed to be rendered harmless by the sacred smoke, but as a safety precaution, the snakes have also been de-venomed but still have their fangs intact. Visitors are warned against picking up the reptiles and placing them on their bodies to take pictures. Local devotees believe the temple's snake population comes there of its own accord.
The temple was built about 1850 in memory of Chor Soo Kong (祖師公), by a Buddhist monk. Chor Soo Kong (also known as Qingshui) was born in China with the surname Tan (陳昭應 or Tan Chhiau-eng) in China during the Song Dynasty (960-1279). He was serious about seeking spiritual attainment and was ordained at an early age. According to legend, Chor Soo Kong was also a healer and sometimes gave shelter to the snakes of jungle. When he died at age 65 after a lifetime of good deeds, he was awarded the honorific title Chor Soo, that of an eminent figure revered generation after generation. After the construction of the temple, snakes reportedly appeared by themselves. The temple was originally called the "Temple of the Azure Cloud" in honor of the beauty of Penang's sky.
The temple was featured during the 8th leg of The Amazing Race 16.
The temple is a location in Tan Twan Eng's novel "The Gift of Rain" (book 1, chapter 4).
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