Stone deities at Sri Mariamman Temple

Photo by Gildardo

Bustling Chinatown is home to the oldest Hindu temple in Singapore, the Sri Mariamman Temple.

Dating back to 1827, the temple was known as Mariamman Kovil or Kling Street Temple, and built by immigrants from the Nagapatnam and Cuddalore districts of South India.

It is dedicated to the goddess Mariamman, known for her power to cure illnesses and diseases.

Abuzz with activity

Now a national monument, much of the present structure is believed to have been built in 1862-1863 by Indian craftsmen.

Besides worship, the temple was an important place for community activities during the colonial era. It was even the Registry of Marriages for Hindus—at the time, only the temple was authorised to solemnise Hindu marriages.

It has been restored numerous times, most recently in 2010. This S$4-million restoration project saw a team of about 20 artists brought in from India, and included repainting all the stone deities.

An ornate landmark

At the temple, look out for its ornate and elaborate detailing. The majestic gopuram (grand tower entrance) especially is a landmark to generations of Hindu worshippers and Singaporeans alike.

Its six tiers are covered with sculptures of deities, mythological beasts and other beings. See if you can spot the Sepoy soldiers in their khaki uniforms from the military tradition of the British Raj.

If you’re here in October or November, consider observing the Theemithi (fire walking ceremony), which is the main festival celebrated annually at the temple.