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Haw Par Villa

For an enlarged view of any photos click on the photo

Haw Par Villa entrance Haw Par Villa was also affectionately known as Tiger Balm Gardens in the 1950 amd 1960s.  During these years the place was nearly always bursting at the seams. Nowadays it seems to be an almost forgotten treasure by the people of Singapore. There is a slight uphill climb towards the magnificent entrance gate.







Gaurdians of the Courts of Hell GaurdiansInside you will find an amazing variety of statues ranging Buddhas, tigers, apes and a gruesome display known as the Ten Courts of Hell, we always called it the torture chamber when we were young.  Before we went to Haw Par Villa (Tiger Balm Gardens) I remember my mother advising us not to visit this group of statues.  Being lads we of course ignored the advice and had a good look!

These are the gaurdians of the Courts of Hell.




Bridge into HellKing QinguangThose who must be judged cross the bridge into Hell where they undergo a preliminary trial in the first court of King Qinguang








2nd courtprostitutes thrown into a pool of blood and drowned

Conmen, robbers, inflicting physical injury are thrown into a volcano pit, whilst prostitutes are thrown into a pool of blood and drowned.







corruption, stealing and gamblingungratefulness and disrespectCorruption, stealing and gambling are punished by one being frozen into blocks of ice

Ungratefulness, disrespect to elders or escape from prison have their heart cut-out

Drug addicts traffickers and tomb robbers are tied to a red hot copper pillar and grilled





For tax dodging, a refusal to pay rent or commit business fraud results in being pounded by a stone malletDisobedience to one's siblings or lack of filial piety results in being ground up by a large stoneTax dodging, refusal to pay rent or committing business fraud results in being pounded by a stone mallet

Disobedience to one's siblings or lack of filial piety results in being ground up by a large stone




Plotting another's deathCheating, cursing, abductingPlotting another's death for his property or money or money lenders with exorbitant interest rates results in being thrown onto a hill of knives

Cheating, cursing, abducting others results in being thrown onto a tree of knives

Misuse of books, possession of pornographic material, breaking written rules and regulations or wasting food results in one’s body sawn into half or thrown onto a tree of knives

Rumourmongerslack of filial obedienceRumourmongers or sowing discord among family members have their tongue pulled out. Rapists or those driving someone to their death are thrown into a wok of boiling oil

For a lack of filial obedience, causing trouble for parents or family members or cheating during examinations one’s intestines and organs pulled out. Those harming others to benefit ones self have their body dismembered



Robbers, murderers and rapists plus those committing any other unlawful conduct have their head and arms chopped off. Neglect of the old and the young results in being crushed under bouldersRobbers, murderers and rapists plus those committing any other unlawful conduct have their head and arms chopped off. Neglect of the old and the young results in being crushed under bouldersRobbers, murderers and rapists plus those committing any other unlawful conduct have their head and arms chopped off.  Neglect of the old and the young results in being crushed under boulders







Finally (if one survives all that), there is the "Wheel of Reincarnation" and the "Pavilion of Forgetfulness" where one can drink the "Meng Po Magic Tea"be reborn either as human or animalFinally (if one survives all that), there is the "Wheel of Reincarnation" and the "Pavilion of Forgetfulness" where one can drink the "Meng Po Magic Tea" and forget the past to be reborn either as human or animal.






I must stress that not all of the garden stauary is like the Ten Courts of Hell.

Buddha 1958BuddhaA buddha statue photographed in 1957 by John Harper and a Buddha statue photographed in 2007 by Dave Papworth.







GorillaTigerAnother John Harper photo from 1957 with Dave Papworth's tiger from 2007..








Gorilla againSumo wrestlersThe Harper brothers, John Bob and Tom in 1957, not sure who the big fella behind is! Sumo wrestlers taken in 2007 by Dave Papworth.










LionWay OutThis lion is typical of the use of colour in the gardens and finally a view of the gate on the way out.  Even after 50 years since my first visit I still remmeber Haw Par Villa  as a magical place that should be on everbodies list of places to visit.






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The photographs in this article were mainly taken in 2007 by David Papworth on a nostalgic visit except where otherwise stated. David had been in Singapore when his father was stationed at RAF Tengah in the 1960s some years after my own father had been stationed there.  If you remember David from those days then get in touch and I'll link you with him.  

Victor Koo, Lam Chun See and John Harper with the gorilla

Victor Koo, Lam Chun See and John Harper with the gorilla who seems to have lost the pointy teeth!

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