#Heritage Sri Thendayuthapani Temple
📷 1: Roots.sg
📷 2: Sri Thendayuthapani Temple’s gopuram by Shiny Things (CC)
📷 3: Sri Thendayuthapani Temple’s prayer hall via Roots.sg
Sri Thendayuthapani Temple (commonly referred to as the Chettiars’ Temple) at 15 Tank Road is one of Singapore’s oldest Hindu temples dedicated to Lord Murugan, the deity also known as Sri Thendayuthapani. The temple was established in 1859 by the Nattukottai Chettiars (or Nagarathars), who first came to Singapore around the 1820s from the Chettinad region in the southern Indian state of Tamil Nadu as traders, financiers, and merchant bankers.
The temple’s 23m high gopuram (entrance tower), one of the tallest in Southeast Asia and the grandest in Singapore at its time of completion, is its key architectural feature. Designed in the South Indian style, the temple features elements typical of Chettiar architecture, such as thinnais (raised platforms) at the threshold and 48 glass panels lining the mandapam (prayer hall), which bring to life the different forms of Shiva’s mystical dance, the Nataraja (Lord of the Dance), and the various forms of Ganesha, among other Hindu deities.
Not only was the temple a religious institution, it was also a social and commercial space for the Chettiars. For instance, in 1928, the Nattukottai Chettairs’ Chamber of Commerce was established within the temple grounds. While it was originally a private temple for the Chettiar community, over the years, it gradually admitted other Hindus from the wider Indian community.
After a decision by the temple committee to reconstruct the temple in the late-1970s, to update it with modern facilities to address the increased needs of the devotees, the old building was demolished in 1981. The rebuilt temple was consecrated in November 1983. In line with the Hindu tradition of temple renewal every 12 years, it is continually renovated and re-consecrated. It was gazetted as a national monument by on 20 October 2014.
Today, apart from being the end point for Thaipusam celebrations of up to 50,000 devotees, the temple hosts a series of programmes and continues to provide annathaanam (free food) during special occasions for everyone. Not only does the temple remain a place of worship for the Hindu community, it stands as a living testimony to the Chettiars’ contributions to Singapore. #HEREitage