Have you heard about a temple inside a bats’ cave in Air Itam? It does exist, but many Penangites are not really aware about it. It is a small temple settled at the foot of Penang Hill in Jalan Pokok Ceri. It is unique because it was built in the face of a cave where thousands of bats are dwells. The bats take refuge in the morning by hanging on the ceiling and walls of the cave, and hunt for food at night.
The Bats’ Cave Temple is dedicated to the god of prosperity and good luck, Tua Peh Kong. You will see his 2-metre high statue made of granite at the entrance of the temple. The main attraction in the temple, aside from the statue of Tua Peh Kong, is the bats themselves. They look like dry leaves hanging on the ceiling. The lights are usually closed inside the cave so as not to disturb the bats. There are white lines painted on the walls to caution people from bumping their heads.
There is a shrine of the deity inside the cave and at its foot are gifts and offerings. There is also a statue of tortoise. People say that touching it 3 times while praying brings good luck. Other attractions inside are the laughing Buddha, the Tai Shui statue and a 10-foot tower made of Chinese wine bottles.
There is a small fountain beside the temple. On the rock, you will see the painted name of the temple and the year 2006, the year the temple was rebuilt. Beside there is a small pond filled with turtles. There are also 2 big fishes called Pirarucu measuring about 6 to 7 feet in the pond.
Devotees offer prayers for winning either at the race track, gambling or for any material gains. It is said that the funds used for the expansion of the temple came from the thanksgiving offerings of those who won big after being blessed by the deity.
There is no written history about the temple but a 1977 printed guidebook mentions that it must have been built in the early 1900. Locals believe that a hermit used to dwell in the cave for meditation and guarded the bats in the cave against human intrusion.
Address: Jalan Pokok Ceri 11500 Ayer Itam, Penang