Another nice site with lots of info:http://www.penang-traveltips.com/jade-emperor-pavilion.htm
Thni Kong Tnua, or Jade Emperor's Pavilion, is a Taoist temple at the foot of Penang Hill in Air Itam, Penang. It is located to the right of the Penang Hill Railway Station.
As the name suggests, the Jade Emperor's Pavilion is dedicated to the worship of the Jade Emperor, or Thni Kong. The term Thni Kong means Heavenly Grandfather, and is the common title for the Huang Shangdi, or Pure August Emperor of Jade. This is the most important deity in the Chinese Taoist pantheon, and is regarded as the ruler of heaven. The worship of the Jade Emperor is traced to as early as the 9th century AD, when he was the patron deity of the imperial family.
The Thni Kong Tnua or Jade Emperor's Pavilion in Air Itam is one of those rare temples dedicated to the worship of this august deity. The temple in its present form dates back to 1905. It was built by the same Cantonese-Hokkien temple trustees as the Kong Hock Keong, better known as Kuan Yin Teng. A Taoist shrine is said to have existed on that particular site since 1869, and for that reason, the present Jade Emperor's Pavilion is regarded as being over 140 years old.
Before the renovation of 2002, the Jade Emperor's Pavilion received its last major facelift through the efforts of the philanthropist brothers Aw Boon Haw and Aw Boon Par, of Haw Par Villa fame. That was back in 1931. Among the structures built at that time was an octagonal pavilion that is still standing.
The Jade Emperor's Pavilion sits on a horse-shoe knoll called Fong San, or Phoenix Mountain, a particularly auspicious position, for it represents the four sacred creatures of Taoism – green dragon, white tiger, black turtle and red peacock, each guarding the temple in four cardinal directions.
The Thni Kong Tnua is unique in that it is a Taoist temple managed by Buddhist monks. One of the more imminent was Abbot Jing Ming, a Mahayanist Buddhist monk who also taught Zen Buddism. He was the abbot of Thni Kong Tnua from 1905 to 1915.
The Thni Kong Tnua underwent extensive renovation and restoration which began in January 2002. As the craftmanship is not available locally, artisans from China had to be employed. They include 33 craftsmen from Fuzhou. The people involved in the restoration is also the ones who worked on the award-winning Thian Hock Keng Temple in Singapore. The restoration of the Thian Hock Keng Temple received an award from Unesco for cultural heritage conservation.
The Jade Emperor's Pavilion is particularly busy on 8th night of Chinese New Year, because it is thronged by devotees coming to celebrate the Jade Emperor's birthday. As I am neither Buddhist nor Taoist, I document the Thni Kong Tnua for Penang Travel Tips and AsiaExplorers from a purely secular, heritage and cultural perspective. I photographed the Jade Emperor's Pavilion on 28 January, 2006, during Chinese New Year, when the temple was still in the midst of the renovations. Later I organised a site visit to it for the Penang Heritage Trust, but unfortunately I myself was unable to attend as I was away overseas. Nevertheless, it gave the participants of the visit a glimpse at one of the few temples to be erected for the Jade Emperor. I understand that the temple trustee are keen to submit it for Unesco consideration for heritage culture conservation.
Take Rapid Penang Bus U204 which goes to the Penang Hill Railway station. Check the Rapid Penang Bus Routes for details. From the bus stop, walk a short distance down the road till you reach a lane to your left with a big arch. The arch is for the Jade Emperor's Pavilion. Take that lane. A short distance up that lane, Go straight up until you see the Jade Emperor Pavilion perched on the hill side. The hill railway viaduct passes right behind the temple.
What to see and do
The Jade Emperor Pavilion was recently restored. Go inside and admire the pavilion itself, which has the largest tragrams dome of any Taoist temples in the region. The temple is resplendent in its crimson lacquer.
The following are sights within the immediate vicinity or close by:
Bat Cave Temple: Just a walking distance away
Beow Hiang Lim Temple
Huat Huah Liam Temple
Ayer Itam Maha Mariamman Temple
Kek Lok Si: Not actually close by, since you have to drive or take the bus there, but worth a visit if you have the time