Sam Poo Kong Temple

Posted on January 5, 2018
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Cheng Ho famously led several expeditions to Southeast Asia in the early 15th century, stopping by Semarang on his travels (some even claim he’s buried nearby). It’s believed he spent a night here meditating in a cave that forms part of the complex, also know as “Gedung Batu” literally “stone building” but probably better translated as simply “cave”. His legendary achievements led him to be honoured as the folk god, Sam Poo Kong.

The modern-looking complex was extensively renovated in 2005-6 to commemorate the 600th anniversary of Cheng Ho’s voyage. The temple is divided into two sections with separate ticket options: You can choose to enter the courtyard only, where it’s possible to view the open stage that offers lion dances and musical performances on weekends, the Chen Ho statue and see the temple shrines from a distance, or for a higher ticket price, also enter the shrine area where you may visit the cave, various pagodas, see a “chain tree” (a ficus with twisted chain-like vines), some relief carvings of Cheng Ho’s travels and an old anchor said to have come from Cheng Ho’s ship hidden at the back of the complex (it’s actually from a VOC ship, but its a good story).

The main central triple-tiered shrine conceals the entrance to the cave behind. Remove your footwear to enter the temple and the cave. Inside the pavilion look up at the bright red and green interior to see hanging lanterns and gilt carved dragons. Photography is not permitted inside the cave, but here you’ll find a small statue of Cheng Ho and some beautiful old paintings, a contrast to the somewhat gaudy style of the rest of the complex. ( source https://www.travelfish.org/ 

Photo by Toto RZ

Inhale the delightful fragrance of jasmine, and sip (filtered) holy water from a well that’s believed to have existed from the time of Cheng Ho and is said to have curative properties. Various shrines to the left and right of the main pagoda are dedicated to the God of the Earth where farmers pray for fertile soils, and a mausoleum for one of Cheng Ho’s helmsmen.

Cheng Ho is credited with helping to spread Islam in Indonesia, and here alongside Chinese worshippers, you will see many Muslim Javanese come to pay their respects.

Outside of the sacred area, souvenir shops sell batik, cold drinks and snacks and offer the opportunity to dress up in Chinese costumes for photos. The cost of renting a traditional china outfit in Sam Poo Kong area is IDR. 100.000 ( update Jan 2018 )

Sam Poo Kong Temple is about two-and-a-half kilometres southwest of the Tugu Muda monument. Also visit the smaller, but exquisite Tay Kak Sie Temple in Gang Lombok in Semarang’s Chinatown area.

Restoration

The Great Temple of Sam Poo Kong itself has been restored a few times since then until now. Unstable political condition after Indonesia’s independence and flood were two major problems that the temple must faced. In 1965, Sam Poo Kong Foundation was founded by Thio Siong Thouw.

A full-scale restoration held in January 2002 by the Sam Poo Kong Foundation to prevent flood and other problems may occur. Restoration completed in August 2005, along with the 600 years Admiral Zheng He’s arrival in Semarang celebration.

After a full-scale restoration, the main temple dedicated to pay respect to Admiral Zheng He becoming more majestic and vast. Indonesia’s Minister of Trade – Mari Elka Pangestu and Central Java province Governor – H. Mardiyanto attended the inauguration ceremony.

Entry fee for Indonesians tourist is IDR 5,000 / Kids IDR 3000 , IDR 20.000 to entrance the prayer area, but if the visitor intends to pray, it is free of charge but must buy incense as a prayer kit.

Entry fee for foreign tourists Foreign entry fees are 10,000 rupiah weekdays, 30,000 rupiah weekends to enter the praying area. Note that menstruating women are asked not to enter the temple.

Daily open ( 7/7) Monday –Sunday :  8 AM – 8 PM (local time / GMT+7)

Sam Poo Kong Office
Simongan Raya Street No. 129, Semarang – Central Java, Indonesia
Phone 024-7605277 (local) / +6224-7605277 (international)
Operational Hours 8 AM – 8 PM (local time / GMT+7) Monday to Saturday

Ahmad Yani International Airport offers international routes to Singapore and Kuala Lumpur. Domestic flights are available from Jakarta, Surabaya, Denpasar, Bandung, Balikpapan and Banjarmasin.

Sam Poo Kong Temple is located on Simongan Road, approximately 3 KM south west from Simpang Lima and about 20 minutes from the city center. The temple is open to the public 24 hours a day.

Get direction : https://goo.gl/maps/zF8KBb6TMhz

Famous areas include a cluster around Simpang Lima that is known for pecal (vegetables with spicy peanut sauce), nasi liwet (rice cooked in coconut milk with various extras) and seafood stalls, but tons of other options are available too, open from early morning until late. Popular stalls include Pecal Yu Sri, Nasi Liwet Bu Widodo and Pandowo Limo Seafood. After dinner take a spin around the square in one of the fun illuminated pedal cars.

Jalan Pandanaran is where local tourists head to pick up take-home packs of Semarang’s renowned bandeng presto (pressure-cooked milk fish) among other local food oleh-oleh (souvenirs). You can sit down to try some samples at Waroeng Bandeng Juwana.

The large Chinese population in Semarang means a wide selection of Chinese food is available (pork lovers rejoice).The best lumpia, or spring rolls, are reputed to be from Lumpia Gang Lombok near Tay Kak Sie Temple. Available goreng or basah—fried or “wet”, which means fresh, similar to Vietnamese rolls for 15,000 rupiah, served with a generous plate of pickles, sambals and raw veggies. Once you’ve has your fill (they are huge), head next door to Es Cao for a refreshing bowl of es buah, a mountain of shaved ice with fruit, grass jelly and syrup (24,000 rupiah).

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