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In the 1820s, many from the Chaoshan (Teochew and Swatow) region of Guangdong Province in China travelled to Southeast Asia by sea. To express gratitude for their safe journey, seafarers and merchants set up a shrine dedicated to the deity Mazu or the Goddess of the Sea and the Ban See Soon Kongsi was established to manage this first Mazu Temple of the Teochews in Singapore.
Subsequently, the Lao Ye Temple (Lau Ya Keng), dedicated to Xuan Tian Shang Di, the ancestral deity of the Teochews and which is known commonly as Lao Ye, was set up. The two temples were believed to have been merged in 1826 and this twin temple was named Yueh Hai Ching Temple (Wak Hai Cheng Bio). On the left is Shang Di Gong, the temple of Xuan Tian Shang Di and on the right is Tian Hou Gong, the temple of Mazu.
The Yueh Hai Ching Temple has been managed by The Ngee Ann Kongsi since 1845 and it was said to have undergone expansion from 1852 to 1855 as well as several rounds of renovation and reconstruction between 1859 and 1896, to what it is today.
Many years have passed and the condition of the weather-beaten Temple prompted the Committee of Management members of The Ngee Ann Kongsi to embark on a restoration of the Temple. Restoration works began on 1st November 1994 and the Temple was subsequently gazetted as a National Monument by the Preservation of Monuments Board. A ceremony to mark the completion of the works was officiated by Minister for National Development and Second Minister for Foreign Affairs, Mr Lim Hng Kiang on 9th April 1997.
However, the effects of weathering and termite infestation once again took its toll. A ground-breaking ceremony was officiated by The Ngee Ann Kongsi on 11th September 2011 and restoration works commenced on 8th February 2012. In an effort to restore the Temple to its former glory, local consultants and craftsmen from the Chaoshan region in China were brought in to work on the restoration of the roof, boundary wall, murals, timber carvings, ceramic ornamentations, dragon and tiger walls, amongst others. A grand ceremony to mark the completion of the restoration was officiated by Minister for Trade & Industry, Mr Lim Hng Kiang on 31st March 2014.
The restored temple was conferred the “2014 Unesco Asia Pacific Awards for Cultural Heritage Conservation – Award of Merit” on 3rd September 2014. The awards programme recognises the effort of private individuals and organisations that have successfully restored and conserved structures and buildings of heritage value in the region. Yueh Hai Ching Temple also garnered the Urban Redevelopment Authority Architectural Heritage Award (Category A – Full restoration) that recognises owners and professionals in the restoration of monuments to their former glory.
Open daily, including public holidays
Important praying events and dates at Yueh Hai Ching Temple
15th of 1st Lunar month : Yuan Xiao Jie