Arulmigu Mahamariamman Temple at Queen Street, within George Town's UNESCO World Heritage Site, is among the oldest Hindu temples on Penang Island. Built in 1833, the Dravidian-style temple is dedicated to Sri Muthu Mariamman, a Hindu deity.
The temple stands out due to its imposing 23-feet tall sculptured tower, called gopuram, which has 38 statues of Hindu deities. It is also the central venue for important Hindu festivals, such as Thaipusam and Navarithri.
As of July 2016, the temple is undergoing renovations.
By 1801, about 2,000 southern Indian workers were living within the vicinity of what will become today's Little India. Most worked as harbour workers in the newly-established Port of Penang.
The land on which the temple stands was given in 1801 by British authorities to Betty Lingam Chetty, the Kapitan (leader) of southern Indians at the time. Thus the temple had its origins as a small Hindu shrine founded in 1801, which was intended to ensure that southern Indians remained in one particular locality, allowing the British easier management of the different ethnic groups on Penang Island.
However, it was only in 1833 when the temple we see today was built. Dedicated to the Hindu deity, Sri Muthu Mariamman, its name was derived from the words mari, meaning power, and amman, meaning mother. The deity is portrayed as a motherly figure in Hindu mythology, as well as the patron deity of southern Indian peasants.
One of the most imposing features of the Dravidian-style temple is its 23-feet tall tower at the front facade that contains 38 statues of Hindu deities. Also known as the gopuram, it also has four serious-looking swans.
When the temple was completed in the 1830s, it was named Sri Muthu Mariamman Temple. It was only renamed Sri Arulmigu Mahamariamman Temple in 1980, and has since also been known as Sri Mariamman Temple.
The temple serves as the main focal point for annual Hindu festivals like Thaipusam and Navarithri.
The temple is open daily between 0630 hours and 1200 hours, as well as 1630 hours and 2100 hours.
As of July 2016, the temple is undergoing renovation works.
Penang State Government
N.26 Padang Kota State Assemblyman : Chow Kon Yeow (Democratic Action Party)
Malaysian Federal Parliament
P.049 Tanjong Member of Parliament : Ng Wei Aik (Democratic Action Party)
- Hockton, K., Howard Tan, 2012. Penang : An Inside Guide to Its Historic Homes, Buildings, Monuments and Parks. MPH Group, Kuala Lumpur.