A new temple of Zheng He, a Chinese Ming Dynasty (1368-1644) navigator who traveled to Southeastern Asia and Africa 600 years ago, opened to the public Thursday in Semarang, capital of Indonesia's Central Java Province.
According to Indonesian historians, Zheng traveled to some 30 countries worldwide including Indonesia's Aceh, Palembang, Cirebon, Semarang and Gresik.
After Zheng landed in Semarang in 1413 in order to repair his ship, he prayed daily at a place, which was later called as Sam Poo Kong.
Oei Thiam Hien, a caretaker at the Zheng He Temple in Semarang, was quoted by local media as saying that the Sam Poo Kong was thought to have originally been a mosque, but later it was turned into a temple named after Zheng himself.
Inside the temple is a well that is believed to have the power to bring good luck and prosperity to suppliants. For years, people from different religions have prayed at Sam Poo Kong for prosperity and health.
"The number of people praying here can reach dozens on Thursday night or Monday night," said Sajiran, a caretaker at the temple.
The 600th anniversary of Zheng's arrival in Semarang will be grandly celebrated in August, and the opening of new Zheng He Temple was just part of the celebrations.
(Xinhua News Agency July 15, 2005)