KOTA KINABALU: The Sabah Tourism Board (STB) welcomes initiatives by religious bodies to promote respective house of worship with historical and unique architectural design as tourist attractions in the state.
Tourism, Culture, and Environment Assistant Minister Datuk Joniston Bangkuai said making places of worship open to tourists provides them the opportunity to learn about local traditions and religious practices in Sabah.
“In STB, we are opened to promoting such places, especially the ones with historical and architectural value. This is the area that tourists and local visitors are interested to explore as well.
“Houses of worship have also been a centre for many major festivals, making these places a platform to promote cultural and religious respect among visitors of different faiths,” he said.
Bangkuai, who chairs STB, said Sabah has a unique cultural tolerance and such could be seen at Bukit Padang near here, where churches, temples, and mosque are built in close distance.
He added STB is always ready to assist religious bodies in making respective place of worship a tourism product only if they are opened to the idea of opening their doors to the public.
Yesterday, Bangkuai received a courtesy call from the Sabah Chapter Malaysia Hindu Sangam delegates led by its chairman Datuk Dr. K. Mathavan at STB office, here.
In the meeting, Dr. Mathavan submitted a proposal to further promote Hindu temples in Sabah as tourist attractions in the state.
He said Sabah has five Hindu temples located in Bukit Padang (Sri Pasupathinath Alayam), Lok Kawi Camp (Sri Subramaniar), Kota Belud Camp Paradise (Sri Sivan Kovil), Sandakan (Sri Sithi Vinayagar), and Tawau (Thirumurugan).
“The existence of Hindu temples in Sabah is not very well known to others. We hope to promote our temples on tourism brochure so Hindus or tourists coming to Sabah know there are Hindu temples in the state.
“Some of these temples have historical significance. The temple in Kota Belud was built by the Gurkha army and has been around since the 1960s. It is the oldest Hindu temple in Sabah.
“During the World War 2, a bomb landed on the area which is now the site of our Bukit Padang temple. The Sri Pasupathinath Alayam temple was built in 1988 and a pond was constructed on the area where the bomb dropped,” he said.
Dr. Mathavan said there were about 10,000 Indian population in Sabah with 4,000 of them being Hindus, adding all five Hindu temples are opened to public.