Built in 1833, the Arulmigu Sri Mahamariamman Temple situated in George TownPenang is the oldest Hindu temple in Penang, Malaysia, and features sculptures of gods and goddesses over its main entrance and facade. It is located at Lebuh Queen,George Town. It is also known as Mariamman Temple or Queen Street Indian Temple. Throughout the years, the Sri Mahamariamman temple has also been known by several names: Sri Muthu Mariamman Temple, Sri Arulmigu Mahamariamman Temple, Sri Mariamman Temple. All these names refer to the same temple.
About the temple
Built in the south Indian Dravidian style, the temple most outstanding feature is the impressive gopuram (tower). Rising above the entrance, it features Hindu deities, soldiers and floral decorations. On the entrance of Penang Sri Mariamman Temple, you get to see a 23.5 feet tall sculptured tower or Gopuram. Also the 38 statues of Gods and Goddesses and 4 swans featuring the Hindu Goddess Mahamariamman in Her many incarnations such as Meenatchi, Kamatchi, Visalatchi, Bhuvaneswari surrounds the colourful four-tiered crown. It is topped with five small kalasams.
With subsequent renovations carried out over the years by Hindus artisans and sculptors from India and locals, from makeshift huts to heavily ornate and brightly shining with diamonds and precious stones, Penang Sri Mahariamman Temple is a sight to behold.
The interiors of the temples are heavily sculptured with deities of Lord Ganesha is in the left pillar and Lord Muruga, his brother, is on the right pillar. The eight female figures adorning the pillars inside the temple are of Ashta Lakshmi (Goddess of Wealth). On the left wall there are sculptures of the Nadaraja and Sivakami in dancing posture of the cosmic dance. 9 statues of goddesses (9 types of Sakthi) can be seen on the walls surrounding the inner shrine of Penang Sri Mahamariamman Temple.
The primary deity Goddess Mahamariamman is seated at the moolastanam (sanctum) of the karuvarai (sanctum sanctorum). The temple has an artha mandapam (antechamber), mukha mandapam, mahamandapam (hall), prakaram (circumambient), vasantha mandapam (festive hall) and kodi maram (flag post). The signs of the zodiac are carved in wood on the ceiling.
The dome or vimanam of the temple is on a base 12.5 feet square and has a height of 27.25 feet. This is in three sections and contains 20 statues of gods and goddesses and 12 lions. Its kalasam is 3.5 feet and is gold plated. The back entrance tower is 10.5 feet high and contains 13 statues of gods and goddesses and 4 lions and a swan with partially human form. Once every 12 years, in keeping with Hindu tradition, the temple is reconsecrated. Previous consecrations are in 1933, 1958, 1980, 1998 and 2016.
Legend and Stories
Dating back as early as 1801, the Sri Mahamariamman Temple is recognised as an elaborate and spiritual place of worship. Like most Indian temples in Penang, the Penang Sri Mahamariamman began as a small and simple shrine. Not much is known about the early days of the temple or of the persons who founded it. The land was granted in 1801 by the British to Betty Lingam Chetty, who was then the Kapitan (Headman, Kepala or Community Leader) of the Tamils and South Indians. This is confirmed by another grant written in 1831. But, as to how the temple came to be built on this land or who founded it, there is no information.
Caption James Low confirms the existence of a temple in Georgetown in 1835. That the Mariamman temple was founded in 1833 is first mentioned in a notice of 'Kumbabishegam' (consecration ceremony) held one hundred years later in 1933. But except for the date, not much else has been said about its founding in that document.
Built originally as a shrine, it was later that the Indian community found a need for a proper temple ground for worshipping, to accommodate the ever increasing Indian community presence on the island. This was done to ensure that the Indian community, which includes the merchants, labourers and sepoys, are settled in one particular area, for ease of managing the group. The majority of the people who lived around the temple were waterfront workers who were the backbone of the Penang port. These Indian stevedores were organised in groups called kootam - a member of a kootam is a kootakadai, and heading each kootam is a thandal. Together, the Indian community numbered about 2000 workers and they inhabited the area bounded by Lebuh Queen, Lebuh King, Lebuh Penang, Lebuh Pasar and Lebuh Gereja, an area collectively known as Ellammuchanthi in Tamil, or Simpang Lelong in Malay.
The Sri Mahamariamman shrine was enlarged into a temple in 1833. Since this was when it became a proper temple, 1833 is taken as the year that it was founded. At the time of its founding, it was known as the Sri Muthu Mariamman Temple. It was only in 1980 that it became known by its present name, Sri Arulmigu Mahamariamman Temple, although the name is often written as Sri Mariamman Temple, Mahamariamman Temple and so on.
From its inception, the temple provided an important place of worship for early Indian immigrants and is now an important cultural and national heritage. In those days, it was done to ensure the Indian community, which includes the early working settlers like merchants and labourers are settled in one area to ease managing them. By 1833, the shrine through the efforts of the Indian settlers, turned to a temple and was renovated to its present form a hundred years later.
According to a document of civil suit brought before the courts in 1904, the names of five trustees who looked after the temple from 1892 till 1904 are Veerasamy, Murugan Chettiyar, Govindasamy Pillai, Veleritta Taver and Meyappah. The temple came under The Mohamedan and Hindu Endowments Board in 1906. From then onwards the temple has been administrated by the management committee appointed by the Endowment Board. It appears that from the beginning of the Endowments Board's administration, a few temples and other institutions have been clustered and left under the care of this management committee: Arulmigu Sri Balathandayuthapani Temple in Waterfall (Hilltop), the Arulmigu Sri Ganesha Temple in Waterfall, the Arulmigu Sri Mahamariamman Temple in Queen Street, Hindu Cemetery and Cremation Ground in Batu Lanchang and a Hindu Funeral Rites Ground in Jalan Air Itam. From 1967 onwards, the board is known as the Hindu Endowments Board, which is currently managing this temple.
First Kumbabishegam - 1933
Second Kumbabishegam - 1958
Third Kumbabishegam - 1980
Fourth Kumbabishegam - 1998
Fifth Kumbabishegam - 2016
How To Reach Chikmagalur
Mangalore Airport, which is located around 113 km away, is the nearest airport to Chikmagalur. The airport is well-connected to flights from Chennai, Kolkata, Mumbai and other major Indian cities. You can hire a prepaid taxi from the airport for Chikmagalur. The city does not have a railway station, so the nearest railway station is located in Kadur, at a distance of about 40 km away. You can take a taxi from Kadur railway station for Chikmagalur. Chikmagalur is well-connected to cities like Bangalore, Mangalore, Hubli and Hassan via state-run buses and private luxury buses.
Inam Dattatreya Peetha,
Devotees visit this temple to seek fulfillment of the following:-
- Get married to a person of a girl's choice
- Health and longevity of husband
Daivi Hyesa Gunamayi Mama Maya Duratyaya Mameva Ye Prapadyante Mayametam Taranti Te
Meaning -According to this sloka, the heavenly maya of God is very complicated, but those who worship God will be able to overcome it.
Balam Balavatam Caham Kamaragavivarjitam Dharmaviruddho Bhutesu Kamo'smi Bharatarsabha
Meaning -According to this sloka, God is the isolated and aloof strength of the controlling and virtuous craving in men.
Ye Caiva Sattvika Bhava Rajasastamasasca Ye Matta Everti Tanviddhi Na Tvaham Tesu Temayi
Meaning -According to this sloka, though the only source of satva, rajas and tamas (good, obsessive and dark) elements is God, they are not present within the God or the deity.
Tribhirgunamayairbhavairebhih Sarvamidam Jagat Mohitam Nabhijanati Mamebhyah Paramavyayam
Meaning -According to this sloka, the entire world doesn't recognize the eternal God beyond them, because they are consumed by the elements of satva, rajas and tamas (good, obssessive and dark).
The temple is open from 6.30 am – 12.00 noon and 4.30 pm – 9.00 pm.