There is no shortage of impressive religious places of significance to visit if you are taking a holiday in Malaysia. If you want inspiration on what to do if you travel to Kuala Lumpur, then look no further than the stunning Sri Mahamariamman Temple.
The Sri Mahamariamman Temple is the oldest functioning and richest Hindu temple in Malaysia and is definitely worth a visit if you are looking for things to do in Kuala Lumpur.
The Sri Mahamariamman Temple was constructed by K. Thamboosamy Pillai in 1873 (who also founded Batu Caves as a religious site for Hindu pilgrims) who initially used it as a private shrine for his family. The decision to open it to the public was made in the late 1920s.
The temple was originally located near the Kuala Lumpur Railway Station but in 1885 it was moved to Jalan Tun H.S. Lee near Chinatown where it still resides today.
From the day it was built, the intention of the temple was to provide an important destination of worship for Malaysia’s earliest Indian immigrants. It is now a prestigious cultural treasure and a visit is recommended for people looking for ideas of what do to in Malaysia.
In 1968 a new structure began to be built to replace the brick building and reflect the style of South Indian temples. It’s most impressive feature is the ornate ‘Raja Gopuram’ tower which is known as the gateway to the temple. Standing at 22.9 metres, the pyramid-shaped gate tower was completed in 1972 and is decorated with sculptures of Hindu God depictions. These were created by talented artists from south India but the main credit was given to the chief sculptor, S. T. Muniappa who made 228 idols on the Gopuram.
People who travel to Kuala Lumpur will notice that the Sri Mahamariamman Temple resembles the form of a human body lying on its back with the head pointing towards the west and the feet towards the east. The five-tiered Gopuram Tower acts as the go between for the material and spiritual world.
The main prayer hall has many richly detailed murals and frescoes on the ceilings. The location of the three shrines in the main temple is dictated by a dominantly positioned ornate dome. There are also four smaller shrines located around the main temple building dedicated to Lord Ganesha and Lord Muruga. The eight female figures which feature on the pillars inside the temple represent Lakshmi, the Goddess of Wealth.
If visitors are looking at particularly interesting time for when to visit Malaysia, they should consider going during Deepavali – the festival of light. During this time, the Sri Mahamariamman Temple is teeming with devotees who want to offer their prayers.
Another day of particular holy importance at the temple is during the Thaipusam festival. Thousands of devotees begin an eight hour procession from the temple which culminates at Batu Caves. Each devotee carries containers of milk or huge decorated carriers on their shoulders called ‘Kavadi’. They then climb the 272 steps to make their offering to Lord Muruga.
At the temple, it is not hard to spot the giant sliver chariot. This plays a major role in Thaipusam when it is taken out of the temple and heads up the procession to transport the statues of Lord Muruga and his consorts Valli and Teivayanni. The chariot was first introduced to the festival celebrations in 1893 and was built at a cost of RM350, 000 using 350 kilograms of silver.
This is one of the most popular religious festivals with over a million pilgrims attending the celebration so it is a great time to holiday in Malaysia.
The temple is open daily from 6am until 8.30pm (Friday until 9.30pm, Saturday until 9pm). During special festivals opening hours sometimes change so it is important to research ahead of time.
Entrance to the temple is free of charge but a small fee is charged to store your shoes at a safe place as they are not allowed to be worn inside.
While there are many exciting things to do in Kuala Lumpur, it is important to adopt responsible travel principles as the need to preserve the integrity of Malaysia’s religious treasures grows.
Visitors are reminded to be respectful of local people praying at the temple, to dress appropriately and to take just memories when visiting all place of cultural importance in Malaysia. This will ensure they can be enjoyed by others for generations to come.