Situated in the midst of the city’s bustle, Tua Pek Kong Temple is one of the major landmarks of Kuching. The patron deity Fu De Zheng Shen (福德正神), also known as the Earth Deity Zhang Fu De (土地公张福德), is commonly referred to as Tua Pek Kong (大伯公, “Eldest Grand Uncle”) in the Nanyang region. The veneration of Tua Pek Kong is ubiquitous among Sarawakian Chinese, and shrines and temples dedicated to him are found in nearly every town and settlement.
This temple is believed to be the oldest Chinese temple in Sarawak, though its exact founding remains an enigma. Its oldest land title deed, issued by the 2nd Rajah, bears the date of 29 August 1871; an inscription on a ceiling joist in the main hall indicates, however, that the temple was rebuilt in 1856, implying an even earlier existence. Researchers have suggested dates ranging from the 1820s to the 1800s to as early as the 1770s, though these remain speculations.
The temple has held a central place in the cultural and social life of the Chinese. Letters from hometowns in China used to be addressed in care of the temple, to be handed to the intended recipients on their next visit to the temple. An old water well, possibly dating back a century, is preserved at the back of the temple.