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Sri Mariamman Temple Review

Singapore's oldest Hindu temple has a pagoda-like entrance topped by one of the most ornate gopurams (pyramidal gateway towers) you're likely to ever see outside of South India. Hundreds of brightly colored statues of deities and mythical animals line the tiers of this towering porch; glazed concrete cows sit, seemingly in great contentment, atop the surrounding walls. The story of this temple begins with Naraina Pillay, Singapore's first recorded Indian immigrant, who came to Singapore on the same ship as Raffles in 1819 and started work as a clerk. Soon he'd set up his own construction business, often using convicts sent to Singapore from India, and quickly made a fortune. He obtained this site for the temple, so that devotees could pray on the way to and from work at the harbor. The first temple, built in 1827 of wood and attap (wattle and daub), was replaced in 1843 by the current brick structure. The gopuram was added in 1936. Inside are some spectacular paintings that have been restored by Tamil craftsmen brought over from South India. This is where Hindu weddings, as well as the firewalking festival Thimithi takes place. To take photos or video, you'll need to buy tickets ($3 for cameras, $6 for video).

Updated: 02-05-2014

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