Another temple in Chinatown’s “3 temple street” is the Sri Mariamman Temple - the oldest Hindu temple in Singapore.
Quick tidbits on the temple:
- an agamic temple (temple construction adhere to the Agamas), built in the Dravidian style (characterized by pyramid shaped towers)
- founded in 1827 by Naraina Pillai, a prominent businessman during the colonial period and regarded for his social contributions
- designated as one of Singapore’s National Monument
- the side streets flanking the temple are now called Pagoda Street and Temple Street in reference to the temple.
The temple is hard to miss with its intricate gopuram (entrance tower) rising above adjacent structures along South Bridge Road. The gopuram is made up of six tiers, each one filled with sculptures of Hindu deities, and each upper level smaller than the previous.
At the entrance tower is a huge double leaf timber door, studded with gold bells which are supposed to be rung by devotees as they go through. [It is important to note that you have to leave your footwear outside the temple]. There are also side entrances but these are mostly used as service entrances.
So I did what all good tourists do: take the lead from locals. Took off my shoes and passed through the huge door. Oops, I forgot to ring the bells.
The gopuram entrance leads to a hall with decorated columns and beautiful ceiling paintings, so make sure to look up. [If you want to take photos, there is a S$3.00 fee].
There is an open air courtyard in the compound as well several free-standing shrines in pavilion like structures known as Vimana.