Holy Pilgrimage - Hindu temples in Singapore -1


Holy Pilgrimage  - Hindu temples in Singapore


The Hindu temples in Singapore. A characteristic of most temples is the presence of murtis (statues) of the Hindu deity to whom the temple is dedicated. They are usually dedicated to one primary deity, the presiding deity, and other deities associated with the main deity. However, some temples are dedicated to several deities, and others are dedicated to murtis in an aniconic form.

Sri Senpaga Vinayagar Temple, Singapore

Sri Senpaga Vinayagar Temple (Tamil: ஶ்ரீ செண்பக விநாயகர் ஆலயம்) is a temple for the Hindu god Ganesha who is the presiding deity. It is located in Ceylon Road in Singapore.


In the 1850s, a statue of Lord Vinayagar was discovered by the side of a pond. A Chempaka tree, Senpaga in Tamil, stood on the bank of the pond. As the Vinayagar statue was found besides the Chempaka tree, the temple came to be known as "Sri Senpaga Vinayagar Temple"
A Ceylon Tamil, Mr. Ethirnayagam Pillai pioneered the building of the first structure as a modest shelter with an attap roof with the help of the nearby Indian workers. This humble abode under the Chempaka tree became the temple of Sri Senpaga Vinayagar.

Management committee

In 1909, the Ceylon Tamils who had grown in number to about 300 families, formed the Singapore Ceylon Tamils’ Association (SCTA). In 1913, a Management Committee of four persons was formed to renovate the premises for the ever growing number of devotees. In 1923, the SCTA assisted the Temple by purchasing the land on which the Temple stands today. A bigger temple subsequently emerged with a priest (a pandaram) to initiate prayers (poojas) and other religious ceremonies.

SCTA role

In 1923, the Singapore Ceylon Tamil Association (SCTA) became the official keeper and manager of this autonomous temple. From that year onwards, the Temple Committee was elected from among the SCTA members. In the following year, the committee decided to upgrade the Temple. In 1926, under the chairmanship of Mr. S Muthukumaru, the plans were finalized and a sculptor was commissioned. In 1929, the construction of the concrete building was completed.

Consecration ceremonies

In 1930, the first Maha Kumbhabishegam was held with the help of generous donations from the chairman. Many well-placed community leaders and devotees permitted the addition of several new shrines within the precincts of the temple. They included shrines for Lord Shiva, Goddess Ambal, and Lords Subramaniam, Vairavar and Nageswarar. On 3 February 1930, a major Consecration (Maha Kumbhabishegam) of the temple was held for the first time.
In 1949, during the Second World War, when a bomb damaged the temple, the restoration began under the chairmanship of Dr. P. Thillainathan and six years later on 7 July 1955, devotees witnessed another Consecration Ceremony.

Sri Mariamman Temple, Singapore

The Sri Mariamman Temple is Singapore's oldest Hindu temple. It is an agamic temple, built in the Dravidian style. Located at 244 South Bridge Road, in the downtown Chinatown district, the temple serves mainly South Indian Tamil Hindu Singaporeans in the city-state. Due to its architectural and historical significance, the temple has been gazetted a National Monument and is a major tourist attraction. Sri Mariamman Temple is managed by the Hindu Endowments Board, a statutory board under the Ministry of Community Development, Youth and Sports.
The Sri Mariamman Temple was founded in 1827 by Naraina Pillai, eight years after the East India Company established a trading settlement in Singapore. Pillai was a government clerk from Penang who arrived in Singapore with Sir Stamford Raffles on his second visit to the island in May 1819. Pillai went on to set up the island's first construction company, and also entered the textile trade. He rapidly established himself in business and was identified as a leader of the Indian community.

Temple site

Initially, the British authorities allotted land for a Hindu temple along Telok Ayer Street. This street ran alongside Telok Ayer Bay, where most early Asian immigrants first landed in Singapore, and where they went to pray and give thanks for a safe sea journey. The Thian Hock Keng and Nagore Durgha Shrine, respectively Singapore's earliest Chinese and Indian Muslim places of worship, are located there. However, Telok Ayer Street lacked a convenient source of fresh water which was needed for Hindu temple rituals.

Recent renovations

More recent works include the addition of a new elevated viewing gallery which is especially popular with spectators during the annual timiti (firewalking) festival. Another major addition is a three-storey annexe building sited to the rear of the temple. This annexe has a separate entrance on to Pagoda Street, with an elaborate facade featuring traditional sculptural plasterwork. The spacious building has a fully equipped auditorium and facilities for weddings, multimedia presentations, corporate meetings, seminars and cultural events.

Social role of the temple

From its inception, Sri Mariamman Temple served as a refuge for new immigrants, particularly South Indian Tamil Hindus. Besides providing an important place of worship for these immigrants, the temple granted them shelter until they found work and more permanent accommodation. Historically, the temple was the registry of marriages for Hindus. At that time, only the priest of the Sri Mariamman Temple was authorised to solemnise Hindu marriages in Singapore. Today, in addition to its religious services and functions, the temple promotes various social, cultural and educational activities.

Art and architecture

Built in the South Indian Dravidian style, this temple features a gopuram that rises above the main entrance along South Bridge Road. It is richly embellished with six tiers of sculptures of Hindu deities, other figures and ornamental decorations. The tower tapers up towards to a moulded ornamental ridge. The scale of each tier and its sculptures is slightly smaller than that of the tier immediately below it. This helps to create the illusion of height and adds to the symbolic importance of the building. Flanking the gopuram are a sculpture of Murugan on the right and Krishna on the left (as one enters). The sculptures are all of plaster, which allows for fine detailing. They are painted in a variety of bright colours, which adds to the visually spectacular quality of the gopuram.
The floor plan of the gopuram base block is rectangular and is bisected by an entrance passageway. The entrance contains a pair of very large double-leaf timber doors. The scale of these doors is intended to induce humility in the visitor and emphasise the diminutive human scale in relation to the divine. The doors are studded with small gold bells arranged in a grid pattern, which devotees are supposed to ring as they move through. Footwear is also stored around the entrance area, as it is not allowed within Hindu temples as a sign of respect.
The main entrance with the gopuram is only one of the entrances into the temple compound, which is surrounded by a perimeter wall. Side openings also exist, which open on to the flanking Pagoda Street and Temple Street. However, these are mainly used as service entrances, with all devotees and visitors entering through the gopuram doors. The compound wall is also decorated with ornamental mouldings, as well as figures placed on top of the wall at various points, including several prominent seated cow sculptures.
Within the walled compound, the temple comprises a combination of covered halls, shrines and service areas, as well as courtyards open to the sky. Leading directly from the gopuram entrance through a covered hall is the main prayer area, with richly ornamented columns and ceilings with frescoes. The ceiling paintings include a large mandala diagram

Shrines and deities

The focus of the main prayer hall is the central shrine of Mariamman, which is flanked by the shrines of two secondary deities, Rama and Murugan. The main prayer hall is surrounded by a series of free-standing shrines, housed in pavilion-like structures with decorated dome roofs, known as Vimana. These are dedicated to the following deities: Durga, Ganesh, Muthularajah (a rural Tamil deity also known as Mathurai Veeran), Aravan and Draupadi.
The shrine to Draupadi is the second most important in the temple, as she is central to the annual timiti or firewalking festival held in this temple. To the left of Draupadi are the five Pandavas from the Mahabharata epic – Yudhisthira, Bhima, Arjuna, Sahadeva and Nakula. They are presided over by Lord Krishna.
Another important element of the temple is the free-standing flagpole. A few days before major festivals or ritual ceremonies, a flag is raised here. The temple compound also contains Lingam and Yoni sculptures.


  Once every 12 years, in keeping with Hindu tradition, the temple is reconsecrated. An annual timiti ceremony is held about a week before Deepavali, the Festival of Lights.

Sri Ruthra Kaliamman Temple, Singapore

Sri Ruthra Kaliamman Temple (Tamil: ஸ்ரீ ருத்ர காளியம்மன் கோவில்) is a temple for the goddess Kali who is the presiding deity. The other deities of the temple include Sri Vinayagar, Sri Subramaniar, Sri Muneeswaran, Navagrahas, Sri Kaleeswarar, Sri Mangalambigai, Sri Dhakshinamoorthy, Sri Sandigeswarar and Sri Nandeeswarar


Sri Ruthra Kaliamman Temple was originally a small shrine, housed in a wooden building, situated at the Alexandra Brickworks grounds at Pasir Panjang Road (present location of Port of Singapore Authority, PSA building) and catered to the Hindus working at Brickworks and those who lived in the surrounding areas.
Mr. Lakshmana Nadar, an employee at Brickworks, is believed to have been responsible for building this shrine in 1913. In 1923, through the assistance of the Borneo Company, whose subsidiary was the Alexandra Brickworks, the wooden structure was replaced by a brick building to give it the form of a simple temple

Maha Kumbabishegam on 1968

Then followed the Asthabandana Maha Kumbabishegam (Consecration Ceremony) on 11 th February, 1968 for the installation of new granite statue of Sri Ruthra Kaliamman to replace the non granite (suthai) statue of the Deity. On 23 October 1969, the Prathishtai (Supplementary Consecration Ceremony) was conducted to install the granite statues of Sri Vinayagar and Sri Subramaniar to replace framed pictures of these Deities. The late Mr. K. Raman Nair, an employee of Pasir Panjang Power Station, and a staunch supporter of the Temple - ordered the three statues from India and donated them to the Temple.[2]

Depot Road Premises

About two years later, on 2 December 1971, Alexandra Brickworks' Management served notice on the Temple to quit by 30 June 1972 as it had decided to sell its property to the Port of Singapore Authority. After protracted negotiations, the Brickworks Management and the Temple's Management Committee agreed upon the sum of S$260,000/- as outright compensation to vacate the Temple premises. With the assistance of the late Mr. S.L.Perumal (the Temple Adviser) the four Deities, Sri Ruthra Kaliamman, Sri Vinayagar, Sri Subramaniar and Sri Muneeswaran were moved during the Balasthabana Prathisthai (Temporary installation Ceremony) on 5 February 1973 to the Sri Manmatha Karunya Eeswarar temple at 249, Cantonment Road, Singapore 0208, where they were to remain until a new temple was built to reinstall them.
Later the temple was demolished as Alexandra Brickworks sold the land to the Port of Singapore Authority. Meanwhile construction work for the new temple began on 27 October 1980 after the Housing Development Board (HDB), invited tenders, in February 1978, through the press for a religious site 2,000 sqm (21,528 sq.ft) in area at Depot Road on a 99 year lease - which was successfully tendered by the Temple Management for $195,687/-.
The consecration of the temple on 11 September 1983 marked the climax of 10 years of the effort by one and all in the successful shaping of the Temple. On 27 November 1987, the Sakthi Sametha Navagrahas Kumbhabishegam was held, the first of its kind in Singapore. Such statues are also very rarely found - even in India. Another significant ceremony was the inaugural Flag Raising Ceremony, which was held on 22 April 1988.
With fund limitation, the idea of a neo-classical temple at 10 times the initial financial resources available was thought to be building castles in the air but it slowly but surely materialized. Apparently the success story of the birth of the new updated temple costing about $2.7 million.

Social activities

The Temple complex has a distinct and separate 4 storey annex block which makes it complete to hold activities such as social, educational and cultural activities.
Services offered by the temple include
  • Yoga classes
  • Carnatic music lessons
  • Astrological services
  • Wedding ceremonies, etc

Sri Vadapathira Kaliamman Temple, Singapore

The Sri Vadapathira Kaliamman Temple in Singapore is located at 555 Serangoon Road in the Little India ethnic neighbourhood in the main commercial thoroughfare.


The Temple was founded as a small shrine by Tamil Hindu residents of Potong Pasir who wanted the protection of Mother Goddess and to sustain their cultural heritage. It was developed under B. Govindasamy Chettiar, pioneer labour contractor to the port of Singapore, philanthropist and Indian community leader.
Before B. Govindasamy Chettiar's death, he requested his nephew and son-in-law the late S.L. Perumal to build a new main tower the "Rajakopuram" and other additions to the Vadapathirakaliamman Temple.S.L. Perumal agreed and kept his word. When Hindu devotees worship here they feel the sanctity of this house of worship. S.L. Perumal built the present Temple at his own expense.
This temple also has a popular shiridi sai baba mandir in it visited by devotees everyday.

Sri Veeramakaliamman Temple, Singapore

Sri Veeramakaliamman Temple (Tamil: ஸ்ரீ வீரமாகாளியம்மன் கோவில்;   is a Hindu temple located in the middle of Little India in the southern part of Singapore.
The Sri Veeramakaliamman Temple is dedicated to the Hindu goddess Kali, fierce embodiment of Shakti and the god Shiva's wife, Parvati. Kali has always been popular in Bengal, the birthplace of the labourers who built this temple in 1881. Images of Kali within the temple show her wearing a garland of skulls and ripping out the insides of her victims, and Kali sharing more peaceful family moments with her sons Ganesha and Murugan.
The building is constructed in the style of South Indian Tamil temples common in Tamil Nadu as opposed to the style of Northeastern Indian Kali temples in Bengal, where Her worship is extremely widespread but the style of temple construction differs considerably.

Sri Thendayuthapani Temple, Singapore

The Sri Thendayuthapani Temple, better known as the Chettiars' Temple or the Tank Road temple, is one of Singapore Hindu community's most important monuments. It was built in 1859 by Nattukkottai Chettiar community.
This Shaivite temple, dedicated to the six-faced Lord Subramaniam (Lord Muruga), is at its most active during the festival of Thaipusam, where the procession ends here. It is here, during the annual Thaipusam festival, that hundreds of pilgrims, their bodies pierced by hooks, spears and spiked steel structures called Kavadi, end their walk from the Sri Srinivasa Perumal Temple on Serangoon Road. The act of penance is carried out by devotees in gratitude to Lord Subramanian or Murugan, son of Lord Siva, for granting their prayers.

History of the Temple

The Chettiar community is deeply rooted in the Hindu tradition especially in the Saiva Siddhantha. Members of the community are very devoted to Sri Thendayuthapani also called as Lord Muruga.
But it was not until 35 years after their arrival in Singapore that they constructed a proper temple in honour of Sri Thendayuthapani. C M Turnbull, in her book A History of Singapore 1819-1975 records that the Nattukkottai Chettiars built the Subramaniam Temple (a popular name given to the temple by non Chettiars) in Tank Road in 1859.
However prior to that year, they had installed a Vel (spear). a representation of Lord Muruga, under a tree where they offered their prayers. The Vel was installed below a pipal (arasa maram) tree at the bank of a tank (pond). Fresh water from the hill where the Central Park is now, emerged as a waterfall and filled the tank. The location was ideal for the establishment of a temple. The Chettiars took their bath there before offering their prayers to the Vel.The railway line nearby also provided an excellent form of transport to and from Malaya where they had also established their businesses.
The tree had to be uprooted when the government acquired the land for re-doing Tank Road. The site where the Vel was now forms part of the slip road that leads to River Valley Road and Clemenceau Avenue.


The old temple underwent some renovation and restoration works on two occasions when the consecration ceremonies were held in 1936 and 1955. However, the community felt the need to upgrade the temple with modern facilities so as to keep pace with the development of Singapore. The Nagarathars decided in the late seventies, to rebuild the temple on the same site. The temple was to be in the centre with a wedding hall and staff quarters flanking its sides. The food courtyard known as the karthigai kattu was replaced by a wedding hall with car parking facilities. The piling work started on 4 Jan 1981 and was completed on during mid 1983 and was followed by a consecration ceremony on 24th November 1983, that was attended by thousands of devotees.
The temple was consecrated again on 29, November 1996.
The next consecration was on Friday, the 27th of Nov 2009. This was a grand event with a turn up of over 20,000 devotees, that includes a live web-cast through Internet.

Facilities at the temple

Wedding Hall

Knowing the needs of the Singapore Hindu Community, the temple has a beautifully decorated and spacious wedding hall for conducting marriages and such functions. Some highlights:
  • Fully renovated and Air-Conditioned Wedding Hall ( called as Kalyana Mandapam in Tamil)
  • One of the biggest Wedding Hall in Singapore
  • Beautifully decorated Alangara Mandapam
  • Seating Capacity of the hall is around 500
  • Capacity of the dining hall is around 300
  • Ample parking facilities
  • Temple Priests available for reciting Hindu Religious Mantras
  • Temple Religious Music is provided
  • Hindu Religious Utensils used in wedding rituals are provided { ex: Stone (called "Ammi" in Tamil) }
  • Centrally located and easily accessible from all parts of Singapore.


Sri Thendayuthapani Temple celebrates various festivals with pomp and splendour and every year six important festivals are celebrated, which are: ThaiPusam, LetchaArchanai for Meenakshi Amman & Durgai Amman, Navarathri, Skantha Shashti and Thiru Karthigai. Of which Thaipusam is a famous festival in South East Asia that attracts thousands of Hindu Devotees and hundreds of tourists to Singapore.


A festival occurring in the Tamil month Thai (January-February), the day of the star Pusam around Pournami (Full Moon) is celebrated as ThaiPusam.
It is a special day for worship of Lord Muruga (also known as Subrahmanya or Thendayuthapani) and is celebrated in a very grand manner at all Murugan temples, especially at the 'Aaru Padai Veedu' of Murugan (Six temples in India dedicated to Lord Muruga).
This festival honours Muruga or Subramanya, the son of Shiva.
Thaipusam in Sri Thendayuthapani temple (Chettiars' Temple)
Thaipusam is celebrated during January/February, that is, during the Tamil month of Thai. On the previous day, the deity, Lord Murugan, is taken on a procession in the Silver Chariot, to Sri Layan Sithi Vinayagar temple, and returns in the evening followed by Chettiar Kavadies and other devotees. This event is popularly called as Chetty Pusam in Singapore.
On Thaipusam day, hundreds of devotees offer prayers either by piercing their body with spikes and lemon, pulling a chariot or carrying Kavadis from Sri Srinivasa Perumal Temple. The devotees then offer their prayers and fulfill their vows. The Vel (holy spear) in the sanctum is showered with milk continuously for hours. Several Chinese devotees and people of other religion and races also come to fulfill their vows on this day.
Several Chinese devotees and people of other religion and races also come to fulfill their vows on this day. Sri Thendayuthapani temple is celebrating this festival in Singapore for more than hundred years. Annathanam (Free Food) is provided from 12.30 pm to 4.00 pm on THAIPUSAM day, at the Chettiar Wedding Hall located within the temple premises.

Sri Ramar Temple, Singapore

Sri Ramar Temple (Tamil: ஸ்ரீ ராமர் கோவில்) is a temple for the Hindu god Rama who is the presiding deity. It is located in the Changi Village Road on the east coast of Singapore


The history of the temple started with a shrine situated at a foot of a tree at the present temple site. The shrine used to be place of worship for the people in the nearby localities. One Mr Ram Naidu, from the British Indian Army took the maintenance of the temple. He secured the present site of the temple from the British at the end of the Second World War and also started building the temple. Over time, people living in the surrounding areas came to participate in the daily prayers and activities at the temple.
The Loyang Avenue Redevelopment Project almost forced the temple to relocate at one point in time. But the steady resolve of the temple’s supporters and with the assistance of Mr Teo Chong Tee, then Member of Parliament for Changi, the temple won its fight to keep its premises.
The temple continues to serve the spiritual needs of Singaporeans living in the eastern part of Singapore at its present location in Changi.
The unique aspect of this temple lies in its amaglation of three Hindu temples namely.
  • Sri Manmatha Karunaya Eswarar temple, which was located at 249 Cantonment Road
  • Sri Muthu Mariamman temple, which was located at the former Singapore Turf Club
  • Sri Palani Aandavar Shrine, which was located at Kranji se

Religious and social activities

To serve the increasing Hindu community, the management committee organises a several annual religious activities like the following
  • Ramar Navami
  • Hanuman Jayanthi
  • Navarathiri festival
  • Thiruvilakku pooja
  • Chandi homams
It also caters to the social and educational needs of the devotees by organising activities for families and children. To serve the local community better, the temple recently underwent sculptural, repainting and general renovation work.

Om Tat Sat

(My humble  salutations to the great devotees ,  wikisources  and Pilgrimage tourist guide for the collection )


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