A literal buried treasure, Da Seng Ngan Temple laid forgotten under mud and rubble since 1974 when a flash flood caused a mudslide to sweep over the area. Since its re-excavation back in 2006, precious artefacts have been discovered and Da Seng Ngan has been gradually rejuvenating itself to the tourist temple it hopes to one day be.
Getting Here & Parking
Da Seng Ngan is located down an unnamed dirt road, the same one you would use to go to Mirror Lake. You turn on to here from the highway, Jalan Raja Dr. Nazrin Shah, but be aware that the highway is one-way so you might have to drive a bit further and pull a U-turn if you’re on the opposite side. Several relatively small signs are put up by the side of the road that signal where you need to turn. Even our driver, who had lived in Ipoh for decades, did not know where this temple was and his Waze app was sending him in circles.
The road to Da Seng Ngan will have you wondering “where the hell am I going?” The narrow road passes by makeshift lorry lots and behind industrial warehouses. The route twists and turns, but keep an eye out for the signs with a Buddha statue on it. These point the way to Da Seng Ngan Temple and are placed at regular intervals on the road.
The official entrance is marked by this simple metal arch, which I’m sure will be overhauled into something much more impressive in the future. After passing through the gate and turning left, there is a small space for cars to park on the side with the cliffs. Today, parking was completely free, but I wouldn’t be surprised if there was a small fee on special days like the Lunar New Year.
What To See
This 8 and a half metre tall Buddha watches over the entrance. It is noteworthy, even if it seems to have been paid for by some corporation. On the way to the cave entrance, the gardens are decorated with majestic limestone Buddhas that stand with the lush green cliffs in the background.
Sharing the space with the gods is another revered figure, a little fluffy dog named Rocky. An adorable statue of the creature sits atop an intricate marble monument, but unfortunately, I can’t read what made this dog so special.
If you walk past the temple entrance and continue on the path with golden statues on one side, you will come to a back courtyard. The centrepiece of this space is the Goddess of Mercy, Kwan Yin, housed under a blue gazebo. More gold-painted Buddhas line the side of the rock face, and smaller carvings are placed in rock alcoves in the back corner.
Inside the cave, everything looks new thanks to the restoration works. It is very clean since Da Seng Ngan doesn’t exactly get many visitors, so the groundskeepers have lots of time to tidy up. I actually did not go inside the cave because one of the temple caretakers had followed me out to the courtyard and was taking creepy pictures of me. I was eager to leave shortly after, so these photos of the interior are from the temple’s Facebook page.
There are the usual altars to the standard deities, but what makes Da Seng Ngan Temple stand out are the long, domino lines of golden Buddhas. Devotees hoping to improve their overall life quality (or perhaps that of a loved one) can sponsor a statue where the name is displayed at its base. There are reportedly over a thousand statues at the temple in the fifteen years that Da Seng Ngan has operated as a functioning temple.
There also appears to be a small bookshop inside the cave where you can buy literature on Buddhist teachings.
Just outside the cave entrance on the right, there is a staircase that will take you to the rooftops of the second floor. Up here are more golden statues under blue gazebos. It’s not that high and the view is of grasslands and the ugly warehouses straight ahead.
Since I did not go inside the temple, I can’t confirm the presence of a toilet. This temple is in the middle of nowhere though, where would the caretakers go? It’s safe to assume that a washroom exists for visitors to use.
Da Seng Ngan Temple at this time has only one review on TripAdvisor, but it is highly rated on Google which is the only reason why this temple was even on our radar. The restoration works are still ongoing, and the temple seems to have lofty ambitions to add one thousand golden Buddha statues by the river in front of the temple. In a few years, this might be a gorgeous, sprawling temple to visit.
If you are not in a hurry, the newness and the sheer number of sponsored statues at Da Seng Ngan are pretty. It’s not too far from Sam Poh Tong and could be included in your day of visiting temples. However, if you’re thinking about driving here specifically this attraction, I don’t think it is worth the time. This place can be hard to find and it’s all alone out here unless you also make a trip to Mirror Lake – another supposedly underwhelming attraction. We cut our time short at Da Seng Ngan Temple in favour of seeing Kek Lok Tong, and I don’t regret the decision.
Da Seng Ngan Temple Info
Address: Unnamed Road off Jalan Raja Dr. Nazrin Shah (near Cermin Lake/Mirror Lake), 31300 Ipoh, Perak
Hours: Daily, 10am – 5pm
Washroom On-Site: Probably