The extravagantly decorated Sri Mahamariamman Temple is the oldest Hindu temple in Malaysia—and a popular stop for locals and visitors navigating the streets of Kuala Lumpur’s Chinatown. Rising 75 feet (23 meters) above the busy marketplace, the temple’s five-tiered tower is adorned with colorful tiles, precious stones and hundreds of carvings of Hindu deities, rendering the building a popular attraction as well as a place of worship.
The main prayer hall inside the temple is as ornate as its exterior, with murals and frescos lining the walls and shrines beneath the embellished dome ceiling. At the back of the complex, you’ll find the shrine of South Indian mother goddess Mariamman, also known as Parvati, as well as smaller shrines dedicated to Lord Ganesha and Lord Muruga. During the Hindu festival of Thaipusam, held in January and February, the sculpture of Lord Muruga is transported from the temple to Batu Caves on a silver chariot, drawing crowds in the tens of thousands.
You can visit Sri Mahamariamman Temple on a walk through bustling Petaling Street or as a part of a variety of cultural heritage tours, including city walking and night tours. Expect to be in the company of devotees in prayer, especially if visiting early morning or late evening.
Sri Mahamariamman Temple is tucked away on Jalan Tun HS Lee, which runs parallel to Chinatown’s Petaling Street. Though hours differ depending on special events, the temple is generally open Sunday through Thursday from 6am to 8:30pm; Friday from 6am to 9:30pm; and Saturday from 6am to 9pm. The temple can be viewed in less than an hour, and is always free to visit, although you may wish to donate a few ringgits towards maintenance. Be sure to dress conservatively and remember to leave your shoes outside.
The temple is easily accessible by metro: take any line that stops at Pasar Seni LRT station, just a three-minute walk away from the destination. Alternatively, you can take a taxi as drivers are quite familiar with this popular location.
Did You Know? The Sri Mahamariamman Temple was built in 1873, with the current building replacing the original structure in 1968.