The Maha Vihara Duta Maitreya Temple in Batam Island is one of the biggest Buddhist-Taoist temples in South-East Asia. Located near the international ferry terminal in Batam Center Area, the temple is one of the most popular landmarks in the island.
The Batam Center Area is the administrative center of Batam Island, an island located in the province of Sumatra of Indonesia, considered one of the most progressive islands of the Riau Archipelago. But although Batam Island is a “holiday island”, there are still several temples and mosques that you’ll find interesting in the island.
According to Batam’s ancient science, the presence of a temple in an island with geographical properties such as Batam will bring luck to its people. And thus the Maha Vihara Duta Maitreya is believed to have helped Batam Island reach its current economic status. The temple, however, wasn’t built to make the island popular with tourists. Built by the local Chinese people, the temple aims to help its believers become compassionate, kind, more spiritual and to help them acquire self-control in their lives. In fact, aside from praying and meditating, people come to the temple to learn more about the principles of Buddhism and Taoism.
In general, there are three types of temples in Batam Island: Buddhist temples, Taoist temples and Hindu temples. These temples, although considered sacred places by worshippers in Batam Island and most Muslim countries, are open to the public, which means visitors are allowed to see the insides of the temples. Ordinarily, all the areas of a temple are open to the public, but in some cases, there would be rooms where visitors are not allowed entry.
The Maha Vihara Duta Maitreya (also called the Laughing Buddha Temple) is both a Buddhist and a Taoist temple. Inside, there are plenty of rooms and corridors. There are three main halls allotted for worshipping three Buddha namely Buddha Sakyamuni, Buddha Guan Kong and Buddha Kwan Im. Some of the rooms are also made in honor of the goddesses of mercy called Guang Ying and Sidharta Gaotama, while some are dedicated to the god of war called Kuan Gong, and others still are dedicated to various gods and goddesses of their religion. The rooms contain images and likeness of the gods to whom they are dedicated, and the three main halls contain several different statues of their respective Buddha.
The temple is said to draw thousands of believers and devotees each day, as well as visiting foreign tourists. And with the numerous prayer rooms it has, it can easily accommodate the large number of worshippers coming to pray and meditate in the temple every day.
As a tourist, you are welcome to view the temple anytime. And it is worth seeing, especially if you have lots of time to spare. A slow morning or afternoon would be quite perfect to go visit the temple, and there are several restaurants and diners nearby where you can sample Batam Island’s local delicacies too. Indeed, visiting the Maha Vihara Duta Maitreya could easily turn into an enjoyable day.