Little India or A Tale of Four Temples

Little India Travel Blog

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Government housing in Little India - 70% of Singaporeans live in similar high rise developments.
The next morning we headed out to Little India to check out some of the temples located there. Our guidebook had raved about several Hindu, Buddhist and Taoist temples, so we figured a nice stroll up would be good. Ok, so my first tip would be to always use the MRT to get anywhere in Singapore - it was baking, so very hot I frequently became convinced I was melting, and everything we saw in Little India was near the station, so we needn't have suffered too much. That said, the walk was really nice and allowed you to get a sense of the people and place - looking at shops, restaurants and housing lets you get more of a feel of somewhere than a nondescript station. I was sweating my ass off though.
The Sri Veeramakaliamman Shaivite Hindu Temple dedicated to Kali.
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The first temple on our list was Sri Veeramakaliamman, a Shaivite temple dedicated to the goddess Kali, the consort of Shiva and the devi of death and destruction. I had never been to a Hindu temple before, and the sight of the colourful statues of the deities and avatars, as well as the grand gopuram (or decorated tower) was very exciting and interesting. While I always feel like a bit of an interloper - a blatant tourist invading another person's place of worship, the temple welcomed visitors, and you were allowed to wander with impunity while strangely robed priests moved from icon to icon performing rites and services. It was an interesting experience coming face to face with the idol of Kali as well - a terrifying image of the goddess disemboweling a demon while dancing on the body of her consort Lord Shiva.
Sri Veeramakaliamman Shaivite Hindu Temple dedicated to Kali.
Overall a very interesting place, though I never felt completely comfortable.

The next temple felt far more relaxed and welcoming. Sri Srinivasa Perumal is dedicated to Vishnu, the preserver, and unlike the temple of Kali it is much more open, with few enclosed shrines and spaces. Also, unlike Sri Veeramakaliamman, it was far quieter, possibly due to the time of our arrival. The gopuram is a staggering twenty metres tall, and is decorated with many scultures of Vishnu, his consort Lakshmi and depictions of the ten avatars including Rama, Krishna, Matsya and Varna. Inside there were many more depictions of the gods and figures from the vedas. It was a really relaxing and colourful place, and I'd highly reccommend a visit to any travellor curious to experience images from another faith.
Sri Veeramakaliamman Shaivite Temple from across the road, (another attempt at being arty...)


We swiftly got lost, took on water and headed to Sakaya Muni Buddha Gaya temple. Commonly known in Singapore as the temple of "A Thousand Lights," Sakaya Muni should be more known for its enormous, fifteen metre high, three-hundred tonne concrete statue of the Buddha. (Of course surrounded by the eponymous thousand lights). The temple also includes depictions of the Hindu deity of Ganesha, and a reclining/sleeping Buddha located under the main statue. The room is designed for quiet meditation and reflection, and it takes your eyes a movement or two before the recumbent Buddha is visible. Around the base of the statue are sculpted scenes detailing the life of Prince Siddhārtha, and his quest to find enlightenment. These are both interesting and amusing, as the brevity of captions sometimes distorts the message.
Sri Veeramakaliamman Temple.


Across the road from Sakaya Muni was Leong San See or the Dragon Mountain Temple. This is a Taoist temple, dedicated to Guam Yin the Goddess of Mercy, and featuring other deities such as Buddha and Confucius. The temple feels more communal - we were enthusiastically ushered in, while regular people from the Chinese community in Singapore went about their business or offered their gifts of fruit to the alter.

Seeing so many temples, so many different faiths and traditions in such a short time was slightly mind boggling, but ultimately incredibly interesting. The range of architectural styles, the colours and iconography, the approaches and devotions was staggering and humbling. I'd thoroughly recommend any visitor to Singapore (or any country) to try to make time to do this.

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Government housing in Little India…
Government housing in Little Indi…
The Sri Veeramakaliamman Shaivite …
The Sri Veeramakaliamman Shaivite…
Sri Veeramakaliamman Shaivite Hind…
Sri Veeramakaliamman Shaivite Hin…
Sri Veeramakaliamman Shaivite Temp…
Sri Veeramakaliamman Shaivite Tem…
Sri Veeramakaliamman Temple.
Sri Veeramakaliamman Temple.
Sri Veeramakaliamman Temple.
Sri Veeramakaliamman Temple.
Little India.
Little India.
The Sri Srinivasa Perrumal Temple.…
The Sri Srinivasa Perrumal Temple…
The Sri Srinivasa Perrumal Temple,…
The Sri Srinivasa Perrumal Temple…
The Sri Srinivasa Perrumal Temple.
The Sri Srinivasa Perrumal Temple.
The Sri Srinivasa Perrumal Temple.
The Sri Srinivasa Perrumal Temple.
Inside the Sri Srinivasa Perrumal …
Inside the Sri Srinivasa Perrumal…
Little India.
Little India.
Chinese Buddhist temple.
Chinese Buddhist temple.
The Sakaya Muni Buddhist Gaya Temp…
The Sakaya Muni Buddhist Gaya Tem…
The Leong San See Taoist Temple, a…
The Leong San See Taoist Temple, …
The welcoming Buddha at the Dragon…
The welcoming Buddha at the Drago…
The Dragon Mountain Temple.
The Dragon Mountain Temple.
Inside the Dragon Mountain Temple.
Inside the Dragon Mountain Temple.
Inside the Dragon Mountain Temple.
Inside the Dragon Mountain Temple.
Inside the Dragon Mountain Temple.
Inside the Dragon Mountain Temple.
Inside the Dragon Mountain Temple.
Inside the Dragon Mountain Temple.
Little India
photo by: lanieinthesky