The last place I would have ever expected to find a Chinese temple would have been tucked away in the leafy, well to do, backstreets of Glebe but to my surprise that is exactly where the Sze Yup Chinese Temple is located, on a block of land acquired by early Chinese settlers for 325 pounds.
The original temple (central part) was built in 1898, facing Blackwattle Bay in adherence to Feng Shui principles and in the red brick style reminiscent of village temples in the southern provinces of China. The two side chapels – the Chapel of Departed Friends and the Chapel of Good Fortune were added in 1904. The temple you see today is a reconstruction, the original having been lost in a fire in 1953. This should not deter you visiting as the reconstruction has been true to the original and indeed had I not mentioned it, you would easily believe it was the original, as I did until I subsequently read up on it.
The temple’s construction was funded by Chinese immigrants from Sze Yup in Guangdong, hence its commonly used name. It is dedicated to (and in fact formally named after) Kwun Ti a warrior, folk hero and god from the Chinese Three Kingdoms era (220-265 AD). Kwun Ti is renowned for his loyalty, physical prowess and masculinity and was thus a great role model for the early Chinese immigrants into this area. Today the temple continues to welcome new Buddhist immigrants to Australian though not only from Sze Yup but also from Hong Kong, Malaysia, Singapore, Taiwan, the remainder of China and, in particular, Indo-China.
The hanging incense coils, outside the very ornate main entrance door, initially reminded me of similar temples in Hong Kong, albeit this one is on a much smaller scale. Incidentally if you cannot locate the temple – use your nose. I could smell the burning incense a block away… a beautiful smell on the nice fresh late autumn morning I visited.
All in all, a lovely tranquil place to look around and have a break. Apart from a lady sweeping the yard and a gentleman sitting in the office I was the only other person there. I can’t imagine it ever being busy with tourists, notwithstanding that it is actually not very hard to get to, less than 10 minutes walk from the Jubilee Park Light Rail station. Don’t forget to remove your shoes before entering the temple.
While few tourists visit, the temple remains an important spiritual and cultural centre for the Chinese (and now wider Asian) community in Sydney, many of whom still consult Kwun Ti for his guidance and blessing when making important business decisions. On the altar inside the central temple (indeed the centrepiece there-of) is an embroidered image of Kwun Ti and his guards (pictures 3 and 4).
The main entrance archway, with its two stone guardian lions, was added on 1982.
Go on, enter the gates and immerse yourself in serene calmness.
7 days 10.00am-5.00pm
Address: Edwards Street, Glebe
Directions: About 10 minutes walk from Jubilee Park Light Rail station
Phone: 9660 6465
This is my last SYDNEY – CITY – GLEBE review.
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