A Visit to Kapitan Keling Mosque in George Town, Penang

In all of my travels I have visited countless places of religious worship. I have visited stunning Catholic churches in Italy, sparkling Buddhist temples in Thailand, wooden monasteries in the Himalayas and interesting Chinese and Hindu temples in several different cities in the world. But strangely enough, I had never visited a Mosque. That all changed when I got to Penang in Malaysia.

Kapitan Keling Mosque (Masjid Kapitan Keling) is the oldest and largest Mosque in George Town. Located on the busy corner of Buckingham and Pitt Street, this magnificent Mosque can be seen from a fair way away, its minaret towering above the surrounding buildings.

Kapitan Keling Mosque in George Town, Penang

Kapitan Keling Mosque from across the street

The mosque was originally built in the late 18th century for the large number of Indian Muslim immigrants that came to the city, but as their numbers grew, a new, larger mosque had to be built to accommodate them. The current building was built in 1916, and it is definitely large enough to fit a LOT of people.

Tower at Kapitan Keling Mosque in George Town, Penang

The tower at Kapitan Keling Mosque

Kapitan Keling Mosque in George Town, Penang

Walking up to Kapitan Keling Mosque

For Non-Muslims, the Mosque is open for viewing outside of the main prayer times, in the afternoon between 1-5pm.  Admission is free and you need to wear the purple robe that is provided.

The outside of the building and its surrounding gardens and tower is beautiful, but the interior of the mosque is just stunning. The huge arches rise above endless lines of prayer rugs on the shining floor below. A magnificent chandelier hangs below the huge central dome and there are panels in Arabic and beautiful stained glass windows all around. I can only imagine what this place must look like when it is full of devoted prayers first thing in the morning.

Arches at the entrance to Kapitan Keling Mosque in George Town, Penang

Arches at the entrance of the mosque

Prayer hall Kapitan Keling Mosque in George Town, Penang

The prayer hall. Line upon line of prayer rugs cover the floor

Kapitan Keling Mosque in George Town, Penang

Columns and arches lead to the large domed roof and hanging chandelier

As I walked around the mosque, a single Muslim man came in and knelt down in the middle of the huge mosque to pray. He had the entire place all to himself. I wondered if this was the only time that he could do his prayers, or if he preferred the solitude of praying alone. Perhaps he had already prayed with the masses that morning, and had just stopped in again since he was in the area. I quietly left him to his prayers and exited the building.

Prayer Hall at Kapitan Keling Mosque in George Town, Penang

The stunning interior of Kapitan Keling Mosque

I was pleased that I had finally visited a mosque. I may not be religious, but learning about the different religions and exploring their places of worship definitely interests me. In that same day, I had already visited a Hindu temple and two different Chinese temples. In a place like George Town in Penang, there are so many different religions all existing in harmony in the one place. I like that. I thought to myself that it would be great if the rest of the world could do the same.

Kapitan Keling Mosque in Penang, Malaysia

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11 comments… add one
  • Jen Seligmann Jul 14, 2014

    Great shots! It looks so peaceful and calming. One of the reasons I love to travel is discovering the different religious buildings all over the world. This is another i must add to my list.

    • Dean Wickham Aug 12, 2014

      I enjoy visiting religious buildings as well, Jen. It is part of the local culture and they are often very interesting sites to see. Definitely check out the mosque if you’re in Penang.

  • Justin Jul 16, 2014

    Hi Dean, nice post – reminded me of when I was KL a couple of years ago. It’s diversity makes it one of my favourite cities, I had a great time travelling solo and visiting the various temples and mosques around the city.

    All the best in your travels,

    • Dean Wickham Aug 12, 2014

      Hi Justin. KL is a great city. I loved it there as well and can’t wait to go back a few more times. You should visit Penang too if you get the chance. George Town is another lovely city.

  • Excellent shots! It looks so relaxing and soothing. One of the factors I really like to journey is finding the different spiritual structures all over the globe.

    • Dean Wickham Aug 24, 2014

      Thanks John. Sounds like we share a common interest 🙂

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