28 Mar Sri Mahamariamman Temple
Situated on Lebuh Queen, just within George Town’s Little India, lies the Arulmigu Sri Mahamariamman Temple, noted as the oldest Hindu temple in all of Malaysia. The site of worship first began as a simple shrine as early as 1801 by the newly arrived Tamil Indians traders who sought a place of worship for themselves on this new land. Later on, in 1833, it became a full-fledged temple to accommodate the increasing Tamil Indian population within George Town.
The Sri Mahamariamman Temple now stands as an important site of cultural and natural heritage within George Town, after having become part of the city’s Heritage Zone in 2008 along with Little India. Located within close vicinity of many hostels and restaurants in the Heritage Zone’s centre, it is a favourite attraction among tourists from all over the world.
The temple houses many beautifully crafted sculptures of various Hindu deities and warriors made from dazzling diamonds and precious stones, plenty of which can be seen over its main entrance and façade, which houses an imposing gopuram, or tower. Since George Town was listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site, the temple’s heritage status among all Penangites has been further cemented and enhanced with subsequent renovations and restoration efforts by Hindu artisans and native Indian sculptors.
The temple is open daily from 6:30am to noon and again from 4:30pm to 9:00pm. . Daily rituals, known as poojas, are conducted at the temple; these are performed more prevalently during Hindu festivals such as Thaipusam or Deepavali/Diwali.
Tourists and non-Hindu locals are permitted to enter the temple, as long as they first seek permission from the temple officials. If you are planning a visit there, be sure to remove your shoes before entering the temple’s premises.
For both Hindus and non-Hindus alike, the Sri Mahamariamman Temple certainly provides an intriguing angle on George Town’s rich cultural history as it continues to impress and enchant those who come upon it.