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Sri Mariamman Temple - a Focal Point for All Tamils in Singapore and a Fine Example of Dravidian Architecture

Updated on February 25, 2020
The majestic Gopuram
The majestic Gopuram | Source

Singapore can be the perfect place to spend a day before reaching your final destination. Even if you only have some hours to kill, Singapore Changi Airport is an attraction itself with its unique gardens and picturesque sculptures. However, nothing beats getting on that train and heading downtown to discover the City of Singapore yourself. The journey costs around S$2 (MRT train) and takes about an hour until you reach Marina Bay Sand, so make sure you have enough time to explore.

This article focuses on Sri Mariamman Temple in Chinatown, a Tamil temple built in Dravidian (South Indian) architecture. I really do believe that it is a must for all first-timers in the city of Singapore.

But why do I speak so highly of it?

Well, for starters, it is the oldest Hindu temple in Singapore. An Indian merchant working for East India Company, Mr Naraina Pillai, has achieved a hard-fought victory, securing a lot for the temple, allowing an early version of you see today to be built in 1827.

Secondly, it has an awe-inspiring five-floored gopuram decorated with Hindu statues and deities. The pyramid-shaped structure was erected in 1903 and it is still considered a landmark for Tamils in the area.

Thirdly, it can be your only chance of witnessing a firewalking ceremony. Thimithi (as the ancient ceremony is called) takes place in Sri Mariamman Temple between mid-October and mid-November since 1840.

Another distinctive feature of the temple is its architecture. The style Sri Mariamman temple is built is called Dravidian and it is exactly how Tamils build their temple in South India.

You will also be able to view all the statues at their original vivid hues. How is something like that possible? Every twelve years, in a ceremony called Kumbhabhishekham, skilled artists from South India visit the temple and reposter all its paintings and sculptures.

When was the last time you had the chance to learn more about an ancient Hindu deity? Sri Mariamman is the main deity worshipped in the temple and she is considered by Tamils to be the bringer of prosperity.

How can you better enjoy your visit to the temple?

As awesome as it looks, the temple is a place of religion and has certain rules all visitors need to respect and follow.

Make sure you dress conservatively and cover up your shoulders and legs. Shoes need to be removed and placed around the entrance.

Tip: In order to avoid the crowds and the burning floor (due to extreme heat) make sure to visit early in the morning or late in the afternoon. The temple accepts visitors from 07:00 to 11:30 and 18:00 to 20.45.

The temple is free to visit. However, if you intend to grab some shots or videos you need to pay an admission of $3 and $6 respectively. Believe me, it is definitely worth doing so.

Respect the priests and devotees inside the temple. Be quiet, follow the temple's rules and be discreet when taking photos of people - not everyone wants to be an Instagram star.

Hindu Traditions

Once inside you may notice some of the traditions and customs of devotees visiting the temple. For example, you may see people breaking coconuts, a symbolic action representing the breaking of each one's own ego. Do not hesitate to ring the bells found in the temple doors; this will alert the gods of your visit to their temple. What is more, make sure to wash your head and hands before entering the temple. That's all, you are now purified and ready for your visit!

A focal point for the local population

Sri Mariamman Temple always welcomed immigrants from India and provided shelter until a more permanent solution was found. The temple still serves as a vibrant religious and cultural centre, a place where traditional ceremonies and events, like weddings, can take place.

Is it worth a visit?

Sri Mariamman Temple is one of those points of great cultural interest that you will never forget. Kitsch plasterwork, picturesque statues, colourful paintings and an incredibly detailed five-tiered gopuram are definately a sight to behold.

Feel free to read the full story at

Where is the temple located?

Sri Mariamman Temple:
244 South Bridge Rd, Singapore 058793

get directions

Nearest stations to Sri Mariamman Temple

Below you may find the near stations to the temple:

  • 1-minute walk - South Bridge Road - Opp Sri Mariamman Temple (05189)
  • 4-minute walk - South Bridge Road - Opp Hong Lim Cplx (05199)
  • 7-minute walk - Chinatown (NE4|DT19)
  • 7-minute walk - Cross Street - Telok Ayer Station Exit A (03041)

© 2020 Nikos Taskos


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