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Sri Mariamman Temple in Penang

Georgetown Attractions

Sri Mariamman Temple is a Hindu temple set on Lebuh Queen and Lebuh Chulia in Georgetown’s compact Little India district: a vibrant community whose outer face is of saris, incense shops and banana leaf curry houses. Built in 1833, the temple is dedicated to the Hindu god, Lord Subramaniam.

Also known as the Arulmigu Sri Mahamariamman Temple or Queen Street Indian Temple, it is the oldest Hindu temple on the island. Shining diamonds and precious stones are part of its façade and it is a typical example of Hindu architecture, built in the south Indian Dravidian style.

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Sri Mariamman Temple is dominated by its impressive 23.5ft-tall gopuram (entrance gate). It is a lofty four-tiered tower with 38 brightly coloured sculptures of soldiers, Hindu gods and goddesses and floral decorations, plus four swans. It is topped with five small kalasams and hundreds of pigeons have made this tower their home.

The tower represents Mt. Meru, the celestial mountain that holds up the heavens, and the realm of the gods which begins in the temple compound.

Within the inner sanctum of Sri Mariamman Temple is a statue of Lord Subramaniam decorated with elaborate jewellery; it is set under a nine metre-high dome. Also inside the temple is a collection of over 40 statues of deities and lions. Penang’s Thaipusam festival begins here as the statue is the one normally used to lead the procession to Waterfall Temple; in October a wooden chariot takes the temple’s deity for a drive around the neighbourhood during Vijayadasami festivities. The inside of the temple has the symbols of the nine planets and signs of the zodiac carved into wood on the ceiling.

When Tamil Indians first arrived in Penang, Sri Mariamman Temple was built as a small and simple shrine and proved to be an important place of worship for these early Indian immigrants. The temple was extensively renovated and expanded in 1933 with artisans and sculptors from India playing a part in embellishing the temple’s façade.

These days, the temple serves a community that is largely dominated by Indians, with moneychangers, jewellers, restaurants and tea stalls. Pujas (prayers) at the temple take place in the mornings (07:30) and evenings (18:30).

Sri Mariamman Temple

  • Opening Hours: 06:30 – 12:00; 16:30 – 23:00
  • Location: between Lebuh Pasar and Lebuh Chulia
  • Type: Temple
  • Remarks: if you wish to enter the temple, ask for permission first from any of the temple’s priests, and do remove your shoes before entering the temple grounds
  • Address: Jalan Masjid Kapitan Keling (Lebuh Pitt)
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