Singapore boasts of a rich multi-cultural history with people from China, India, Malaysia and other Asian countries living in perfect harmony. Around ten percent of the entire population in Singapore is of Indians, majority of which follow Hinduism and that is the reason you will find scores of Hindu temples standing across different corners of the island. Since majority of the Indians who migrated to Singapore are from the states of South India, the temples here reflect the typical South Indian architecture with tall gopurams, ornate carvings and vibrant colours exuding from everywhere inside the shrine. Like Hindu temples in other countries outside India, the temples in Singapore also promote rich Indian culture by organizing festivals, music and dance concerts and other religious events on a grand scale. Needless to say, these temples also act as a bridge connecting people living in the foreign land to their roots in India. If you are travelling to Singapore and have a keen interest in exploring the Hindu temples in this island country, here are top 15 temples that must definitely be on your travel itineraries.
The oldest and most revered Hindu temple of Singapore built in 1827, the ‘Sri Mariamman Temple’ is located in the bustling Chinatown and is visited by hordes of pilgrims and tourists every day. Constructed in pure Dravidian style of architecture with a lofty gopuram decorated with intricate carvings of figurines and deities associated with Hindu mythology painted in vibrant colours, the temple can be seen from even a far off distance. Dedicated to Goddess Mariamman who is believed to protect her devotees from illness and diseases, the temple holds a great religious significance in the hearts of Hindu and Tamil residents of Singapore. Besides housing the shrine of presiding Goddess Mariamman, the temple also houses the shrine of Goddess Draupadi who is honoured during the annual festival of Thimithi held in October/November. During this festival, the devotees walk on the paths of blazing coal barefooted to get their wishes fulfilled, providing a great spectacle of faith, courage and endurance to all the onlookers. The interiors of the temple are as colourful as the exterior with brightly coloured walls and ceilings, decorated with exquisite motifs and frescoes. Free standing shrines of Lord Rama, Murugan, Goddess Durga, Lord Shiva and Lord Ganesha can also be seen inside the temple.
Built during the colonial era, Sri Mariamman Temple was the only temple in Singapore authorized to solemnize the Hindu marriages. Even today, traditional Hindu wedding ceremonies continue to take place in the temple. Since its inception, the temple has also served as a refuge to many immigrants, providing them with shelter and food till the time they find work or accommodation for themselves. Even today, this temple works significantly towards social, cultural and educational causes for Hindu community living in the country.
Sri Veeramakaliamman Temple, Photo: https://goo.gl/quVVke
Located in the heart of Little India, on the ever-busy Serangoon Road, the ‘Sri Veeramakaliamman Temple’ is another one of the most beautiful, famous and revered Hindu temples in Singapore. Dedicated to the Goddess Kali, the destroyer of evil, the temple is one of the oldest in the country and was built by a group of labourers migrated from the regions of Bengal and Tamil Nadu in India to Singapore during the year 1881. The architectural style of the temple resembles the signature South Indian style, adorning the magnificent gopuram decorated with bright coloured carvings of Hindu mythological figures, which is also sure to take you in its complete awe as soon as you rest your eyes on it. As you enter the temple premises, you will find the goddess standing in her normal ferocious form, wearing the garland of skulls and carrying a bowl of blood. A more serene idol of the goddess inside the temple premises, nurturing her family, displays her more placid and motherly facet, blessing the devotees.
For those wishing to seek the blessings of the goddess can visit the temple anytime of the day except between 1.00 PM and 4.00 PM. Photography is also allowed inside the temple, but be cautious to not disturb anyone praying and abide by the rules of removing your shoes and dressing modestly before stepping in.
Yet another most popular Hindu temple in Singapore is the ‘Sri Srinivasa Perumal Temple’. Dedicated to Lord Perumal (Krishna), an embodiment of Lord Vishnu, the temple dates back to 1855 and again reflects a Dravidian architectural style. The five-tiered gopuram of the temple soars to a height of 20 metres and is embellished with beautiful carvings and sculptures of Lord Vishnu in his different manifestations. Inside the temple, in the main shrine, you will find the deities of Vishnu, his consorts Lakshmi and Andal and his bird-carrier, Garuda. The courtyard of the temple houses a well, which was once believed to be a stream of water that served an important source for devotees to ritually cleanse themselves before beginning the prayers.
The temple is today, the main venue for the annual Thaipusam festival that honours the Hindu God, Murugan. During the festival, a large procession carrying the chariot of Lord Murugan, is led by ardent devotees with piercings of metal skewers in their cheeks or tongues and Kavadis decked with peacock feathers and flowers balanced on their shoulders. Ending at the ‘Thendayuthapani Temple’, located on the Tank Road, the festival often brings traffic in Singapore to a standstill, providing a grand spectacle to all the bystanders. If you are in Singapore around the festival, do make it a point to visit the temple and have a glimpse at the unusual Hindu customs and traditions.
Sri Thendayuthapani Temple, Photo: https://goo.gl/bgaKQ2
Located amidst picturesque and tranquil surroundings, close to the river valley on the Tank Road, ‘Sri Thendayuthapani Temple’ is yet another most significant religious site for Hindus in Singapore and attracts hundreds of devotees and tourists every day. Founded in 1859 by the ‘Nattukkottai Chettiars’ community (a Tamil community with belief in the system of Shaivism) in Singapore, the temple is also popular with the name of the Chettiar’s Temple. The architecture of the temple largely boasts a South Indian style and its imposing 75 feet five-tiered gopuram with ornate deities welcomes one and all. The interior halls of the temple are as exquisite as the exterior and are supported by elaborately carved pillars adorned with various mythological figures. Although the presiding deity of the temple is of Hindu God Murugan, the temple also enshrines the sanctums for Lord Sundareswarar, an embodiment of Lord Shiva, Goddess Meenakshi, an embodiment of Goddess Parvati and Navagraha (nine deities with each associated to a planet). One of the oldest Murugan temples in Singapore, this temple is must visit for everyone who has an inclination towards religion and spirituality.
The annual Thaipusam Festival is also a grand affair at the ‘Sri Thendayuthapani Temple’ inviting hordes of devotees to be part of the festivities. On the eve of the festival, devotees carry the statue of Murugan, placed in a silver chariot to the ‘Layan Sithi Vinayagar Temple’ and return back in the evening. The second day of the festival is a much grander affair and provides a magnificent sight of devotees leading a procession all the way from the Srinivasa Perumal Temple to the Thendayuthapani Temple. During the procession, the sights of many men with piercings of large metal skewers in their tongues, chests and other body parts as a way to implore Murugan’s help or as thanksgiving for granted prayers, can be commonly seen walking and dancing, offering an unusual spectacle.
Sri Layan Sithi Vinayagar Temple, Photo: https://goo.gl/UG99s8
Another most significant and popular Hindu temple in Singapore is the ‘Layan Sithi Vinayagar Temple’ located on the Keong Saik Road in Chinatown. Dedicated to Lord Ganesha, the brother of Lord Murugan, this temple was also built by the Chettiar’s community in Singapore during the year 1925. Much like other South Indian temples in the country, the Layan Sithi Vinayagar temple will also stun you with its beautiful architecture and vibrant colours oozing out from its imposing gopuram. The main sanctum houses the presiding deity of Lord Vinayagar (Ganesha) along with a Holy Vel (spear) symbolizing Lord Murugan and is visited by hundreds of devotees of all races throughout the day. Between Thursdays and Sundays, lots of worshippers can be seen circumambulating the main sanctum 108 times to fulfil their vows. The temple also sees a great rush of pilgrims, devotees and tourists on the eve of annual Thaipusam Festival when Lord Murugan comes here to visit his brother, Ganesha in a silver chariot from the ‘Sri Thendayuthapani Temple’. The holy vel that is in this temple is taken to the ‘Thendayuthapani Temple’ for the Thaipusam festival and poured with milk offered by devotees.
If you are passing by the busy streets of Chinatown, do drop in at this temple for some time and immerse yourselves in peace and serenity offered by its tranquil ambience.
Sri Senpaga Vinayagar Temple, Photo: https://goo.gl/JQ0UH2
Dating back to more than 150 years, the ‘Senpaga Vinayagar Temple’ was first consecrated in the year 1850 after the discovery of an idol of Lord Vinayagar under the shade of a Senpaga tree by the side of a pond. At that time only a small shelter was built around the tree and the deity was enshrined inside that structure. Today, the temple situated on the Ceylon Road, boasts a captivating architectural design based on the lines of Chola architecture found in Southern India with a heavenly ornamented gopuram but, not as vibrant as other temples in the country, giving it a more subtle look. The interiors of the temple house the sanctum sanctorum dedicated to Lord Ganesha with its domed roof, plated in pure gold. The four pillars inside the prayer hall adorn 32 granite sculptures of Vinayagar in his different forms, providing it a magnificent spectacle. The ceiling of the temple decorated with exquisite frescoes depicting scenes from Hindu mythology also capture your visual senses instantly.
The second oldest Hindu temple in Singapore and also one of the most revered Vinayagar temples in the country, the ‘Senpaga Vinayagar Temple’ is swarmed by thousands of visitors every year. In contrast to other Hindu temples in Singapore that have been built by Indian Tamilians who migrated to the country from Southern regions of India, this temple strongly identifies with the Ceylonese community or the Tamilians who migrated to Singapore from Sri Lanka.
Ornate architecture, peaceful ambience and an aura filled with spirituality, definitely makes this religious site worth a visit during your trip to Singapore.
Sri Sivan Temple, Photo: https://goo.gl/AaOZAY
Located in Geylang district of Singapore, the ‘Sri Sivan Temple’ is dedicated to Lord Shiva and is one of the finest Hindu temples in the country with a beautiful octagonal shaped architecture that is a blend of both, North Indian and South India design styles. Having a great religious significance in the hearts of all Hindus residing in the country, the temple sees a footfall of hundreds of worshippers every day who come here to offer their prayers and seek blessings from the god. Besides local Singaporeans, the temple is also a great attraction for foreign tourists, flocking here to get a sneak peek into Hindu customs and traditions. For those looking for an unforgettable experience at the Sivan Temple must visit here during the festival of Maha Shivratri when temple is at its visual best, bathing in the light of thousands of bulbs and bustling with flocks of devotees awaiting their turns to bathe the sacred Shivlinga with milk. During the festival, many cultural programs are also held in the temple premises all night long, providing an unmatched opportunity for photography freaks and those with an inclination towards learning about new cultures, have a gala time. By far one of the best spiritual places for Hindus in Singapore, you cannot give it a miss during your holidays in the country.
Sree Maha Mariamman Temple, Photo: https://goo.gl/8dHXKD
The history of ‘Sree Maha Mariamman Temple’ dates back to around 85 years when some Hindu workers in the Sembawang Rubber Estate built a small shrine dedicated to Sree Maha Mariamman in the form of a cement idol. During the period between 1950 and 1960, the temple was shifted from its original location to the Mandai Road and cement idol of goddess was replaced by the granite statue. During the consecration ceremony, the idols of Sree Sivan, Sree Krishnar, Sree Vinayagar and Sree Murugan were also enshrined in the temple. In 1996, the site of the temple was acquired by the Urban Redevelopment Authority and it is then, when the management committee of the temple found the permanent abode for the goddess Maha Mariamman at Yishun, where it is presently located. Today, the temple also houses the sanctums for Sree Nagar, Sree Saneeswarar and Navagraha. The architecture of the temple with its golden roof adorning the 16 manifestations of Goddess Mariamman captivates your senses instantly. The interiors of the temple also provide an unmatched visual spectacle with exquisitely carved statues and sculptures ornamenting the temple walls and ceilings. If you are looking for a temple architecture that offers something unique from the usual Dravidian designed temples; the ‘Maha Mariamman Temple’ makes for a perfect visit when in Singapore.
Holy Tree Sri Balasubramaniar Temple, Photo: https://goo.gl/1lR9lG
The history of the Balasubramaniar Temple located at the Yishun Industrial Park has an interesting history dating back to some 50 years when the area served as a dockyard for British Royal Navy. It is said that on the eve of Pongal, a worker in the dockyard had a dream of Lord Murugan and a golden cobra seated under an Elanthamaran tree (Chinese red dates tree) in a swampy mangrove area somewhere around the Canberra road. The worker went in search and found the particular tree with six main branches symbolizing the six arms of Lord Murugan. He enshrined the pictures of Lord Murugan and a large Vel under the tree. Soon, the small shrine gained popularity and a temple was constructed around the tree, which later came to be known as ‘Holy Tree’ Balasubramaniar Temple. Today, the temple is one of the most popular Hindu temples in Singapore and lures hundreds of devotees every day. There is a huge rush in the temple during the annual festival of ‘Panguni Uthiram’ held in March-April, inviting people from different corners of the country to be part of its grand festivities. During the festival, the idol of Lord Murugan is carried in a silver chariot as part of a huge procession that proceeds along the Sembawang Road, down the Canberra Link, finally ending at the Balasubramaniar Temple; a stretch of almost 2 kilometres. Similar to Thaipusam, the Panguni Uthiram procession also sees a great number of devotees carrying Kavadis on their shoulders or hooked to their bodies. Many devotees can also be seen carrying pots of milk on their heads to be offered to the god.
If you get a chance, do visit this historical temple during your visit to Singapore and if you are lucky, you might even get an opportunity to be part of the colourful Panguni Uthiram festival.
Sri Vadapathira Kaliamman Temple, Photo: https://goo.gl/R6YBhE
Yet another famous Hindu temple in Singapore located on the junction of Balestier and Serangoon Roads near Little India, the ‘Vadapathira Kaliamman Temple’ is believed to have been started in 1830 by a sole female devotee by placing the picture of goddess Kali under the banyan tree that was once located near the present temple. As the small altar gained popularity amongst the Hindu community, it was converted into a full-fledged temple in 1935. Besides housing the sanctum of the presiding deity of Goddess Kali, the temple also houses many statues of other gods and goddesses, the most significant of which are that of Sri Hanuman, Sri Vinayagar, Sri Ramar, Sri Nageshwari Amman and Sri Periyachi Amman.
Holding a great religious significance in the hearts of Singaporeans, the temple draws a great number of devotees and tourists every day who come here to worship and seek blessings of the god. Tuesdays and Fridays are the days when you will find many pregnant women flocking to the temple seeking blessings from Periyachi Amman, a manifestation of Goddess Kali, who is believed to protect the expecting mother and the child in her womb from evil eyes. A special Periyachi Pooja is also performed in the temple on a grand scale during the Tamil month of Aadi which is attended by huge number of devotees.
One of the oldest and significant Hindu temples in the region, the ‘Vadapathira Kaliamman Temple’ is also one of the greatest attractions in town during the festival of Deepavali. Elaborately decorated with thousands of lights and glittering in its magnificent splendour, the temple provides everyone with an unparalleled visual delight. So, if you are in Singapore during the festival of lights, make sure you visit the temple and get captivated by its magical aura.
Sri Krishnan Temple, Photo: https://goo.gl/emGi7B
Located on the Waterloo Street in downtown Singapore, stands the beautiful ‘Sri Krishnan Temple’ with its blue façade adorning the sculptures of 10 incarnations of Lord Vishnu. The entrance gate is guarded by two impressive statues of Lord Hanuman and Garuda, on its either side. Built in pure South Indian architectural style, Sri Krishnan Temple is the only temple in Singapore dedicated to Lord Krishna and his consort, Goddess Rukmini.
The history of the temple can be traced back to 1870 when a person named Hanuman Beem Singh enshrined an idol of Sri Krishna beneath a banyan tree on the Waterloo Street, a central location for the Hindu community residing in the areas of Bras Basah Road, Victoria Street and Albert Street. As the number of people who congregated to worship at the temple grew, a proper temple was constructed around the tree, the construction of which completed in 1933. Since then, the temple has seen many successive expansions and developments. This temple is also a great testament to the cultural and religious harmony of people living in Singapore as many Chinese devotees from the nearby ‘Kwan Im Thong Hood Cho Temple’ can often be seen dropping by here to light some incense and pay their respect to Lord Krishna. The Bugis Street nearby is an added bonus for the visitors, who after offering their prayers at the temple, can spend some time shopping and gorging on the delicious street snacks.
If you are in Singapore around the time of Krishna Janmashtmi, do drop in by this temple to witness the effervescence and vibrancy filled in the air.
Sri Ramar Temple, Photo: https://goo.gl/M3yJhL
Located on the Changi Village Road on the East coast of Singapore, ‘Sri Ramar Temple’ is dedicated to Lord Rama. One of the very popular Vaishnavite temples in Singapore, it is visited by scores of devotees every day, especially from the neighbouring areas of Tampines, Pasir Ris and Simei. Talking about the history of the temple, it started off as a small shrine with the deity of Lord Rama under the shade of a tree at its present site. Hindus from nearby village started coming to the shrine for daily prayers and offerings and as the congregation grew, the small shrine was converted into a more formal temple with the efforts of Mr Ram Naidu, an officer in the then British Indian Army. Today, the temple not only enshrines the deity of Lord Rama but, also houses the statues of Lord Buddha and Quan Yin (Chinese Goddess of Mercy) thus, catering to Non-Hindu devotees as well who frequent here for blessings of the god. A big and impressive statue of Lord Hanuman is the highlight of the temple, which is sure to take you in its complete awe as soon as you set your eyes on it.
If you are around the Changi Village area during the festivals of Ram Navami or Hanuman Jayanti, do try to visit this beautiful site and immerse your souls in complete serenity and tranquillity. As the location of Sri Ramar Temple is near the Changi Beach, a visit here also enables you to spend a lovely evening strolling or relaxing on the soft sand.
Sri Murugan Hill Temple, Photo: https://goo.gl/pVrbmd
Located on the Upper Bukit Timah Road in Singapore, is another significant Murugan shrine known as ‘Sri Murugan Hill Temple’. The beautiful and colourful architecture of the temple atop a small hill captures your hearts as you pass by the road. The history of the temple dates back to somewhere around 1960 when a small shrine resembling that of Lord Muneeswaran was discovered on the hill top by a plumber working in the area. He started praying at the shrine and soon, it gain popularity. After few months, due to a spread of fire in and around the area of the shrine, the prayers were stopped and shrine was left abandoned. It is after the appearance of Lord Murugan in the dreams of the plumber, asking him to revive the temple and offer prayers as usual, the temple was restored with the deity of Lord Murugan along with his consorts, Valli and Deviani enshrined in it and the temple came to be called as ‘Sri Murugan Hill Temple’. Today, the temple is one of the important Hindu temples in Singapore, visited by both locals and tourists alike. The location on top of the hill, further adds to its picturesque charm.
As in other Murugan temples, the Thaipusam and Panguni Uthiram festivals at the hill temple are also celebrated with great fervour and joy by all the devotees. The annual chariot festival held in the month of March-April also sees a great rush of people flocking to the temple.
If you are on a religious tour in Singapore, make sure you include a trip to the ‘Murugan Hill Temple’ in your itineraries.
Arulmigu Velmurugan Gnana Muneeswarar Temple, Photo: http://goo.gl/ThlEfk
A very recent addition to the religious scene of Singapore is the magnificent ‘Arulmigu Velmurugan Gnana Muneeswarar Temple’, located just next to the Taoist temple and prayer hall in Sengkang area. Formally consecrated in February 2006, the temple is the first Hindu temple established with the financial support of Buddhist community. The presiding deities of the temple are of Lord Vinayagar, Lord Murugan and Lord Muneeswarar and all festivals related to the three primary gods of the temple are celebrated with great zeal and enthusiasm. One of the most popular temples in Singapore, it is visited by devotees from all races, be it Hindus, Buddhists or Taoists. The architecture of the temple showcases a unique blend of modern design infused with all essential symbolisms of ancient South Indian temple architecture. The interiors of the temple adorning ornate carvings on its pillars, walls and ceilings, also provide with a visual treat to the visitors. If you love capturing the exquisiteness of the architecture of Hindu temples, this is a perfect place to be when in Singapore.
Shree Lakshmi Narayan Temple, Photo: http://goo.gl/fuxQ65
The only temple catering to the North Indian Hindu community in Singapore is the famous ‘Lakshmi Narayan Temple’ located on Chander Road in Little India. Founded in 1969, the temple not only caters as a place of worship but, also provides with an ambience for people to interact and participate in its various cultural events. Unlike South Indian styled temples, the architecture of this temple is quite simple and plain with no towering gopurams or intricate carvings on the walls and ceilings. The main hall of the temple enshrines the deities of various Hindu gods and goddesses. The prayer hall inside, is the place where frequent havans, bhajans and kirtans are organized by the temple committee on different occasions. The temple is teeming with crowds during the festivals of Navratri and Deepavali that are celebrated here at a grand scale.
For those looking to get a glimpse of North Indian cultures and traditions, can definitely pay a visit to the Lakshmi Narayan Temple in Singapore.
Besides the temples listed above, there are many more small temples in the country which can be explored depending on your time and interests. Also, while visiting any Hindu temple, make sure you abide by certain rules such as removing your footwear before entering the sanctum and dressing conservatively (though Singaporeans are generally quite open-minded about most forms of clothing, wearing short crop tops with plunging necklines or miniskirts is certainly a big ‘NO’). Photography is generally allowed in the temples but, it is always recommended to check the guidelines. Keeping these small details in mind, you can surely have a wonderful time exploring the beautiful Hindu temples in the country.