Nestled in the heart of George Town’s Little India, the Sri Maha Mariamman Temple in Penang is definitely something to look into if you’re looking for things to do in Penang and where to go in Penang! An intricately designed, colorfully elegant temple, the Sri Maha Mariamman Temple in Penang is one of the oldest in George Town, which is saying a lot considering almost all the temples in George Town were built over a hundred years ago!
Set on Jalan Masjid Kapitan Kling and part and parcel of the Historic Enclave of this Pearl of the Orient, the Sri Maha Mariamman Temple takes pride in its quiet serenity, tranquil ambiance, colorful paintings, precious gem statuettes of Hindu deities and interesting architecture. With so many other temples in George Town, why should you take some time off and head to the Sri Maha Mariamman Temple? Here’s a quick peek at why this temple is considered to be one of the most intriguing temples in the city, and why is should be on your list of places to visit in Malaysia!
The Story Behind the Sri Maha Mariamman Temple
When the first Tamil Indians arrived to the shores of Penang, they decided to establish a community within the city, which they named Little India. Soon after, they built a shrine in 1801, in a bid to establish close community ties and have a shrine for worshipping their Hindu gods. As the Tamil community increased in number, the shrine was officially converted and became the Sri Maha Mariamman temple in the year 1833. It thus became the center-point of the community and the focal point for preservation of their heritage, culture and religion.
The Statues in the Temple
According to Hindu mythology, the Hindu deity Parvati who is the quintessence of the earth’s natural forces represents as Mariamman, and is worshipped with a lot of fervor in the Tamil Community. Apart from Mariamman, there are three major Hindu gods and goddesses that are worshipped in the Tamil community: Subramaniam, Ganapathy and Durga. The temple contains intricately designed, elaborately crafted statues of these deities, all of which are done in precious stones, gold and diamonds! The intricate craftsmanship is quite something, so if you’re wondering what to do in Penang, a visit to this temple is something you’ll really enjoy!
The Intriguing Architecture
The Sri Maha Mariamman temple was designed and built by creative and skilled artisans who were commissioned from Tamil Nadu in India, and reflects the temple designs only seen in the south of India. The temple is quite unusual and the only one of its type in Penang, with its sculpted wall towers (also known as gopuram) that are embossed with colorful images of the Hindu deities and sacred animals such as the cow and the swan on them.
The Locale Around the Temple
This temple is set in the heart of Little India, which is one of the best things to do in Malaysia! As you head to the temple, you’ll be astounded by the vivid colors, spicy fragrances, bustling atmosphere and interesting shops that showcase Little India. A visit to the Sri Maha Mariamman Temple can end with a leisurely stroll through Little India as you do a bit of on-the-spot shopping and enjoy some south Indian cuisine!
When to Go
The best time to visit this temple is early in the morning when the temple priests are carrying out the daily Puja (ritual prayer sessions), which are quite interesting to watch and experience. The timings of the temple are 8.00 a.m. to 12.00 noon and then from 4.30 p.m. to 9.00 p.m.
When heading to this temple, please keep in mind that this temple is very old and has been carefully preserved and renovated. Admire from afar: don’t get too close to the priceless statues. Also, please remove your shoes when you enter, maintain silence and ensure you adopt a demeanor in keeping with the ambiance of the temple.