Temples are not only a place for worship and meditation, it is also a reflection of the community of the local devotees. They are most often rich with culture and positive energy. If you want are interested in visiting Hindu temples outside India, then Malaysia has a lot to offer you. Even though Islam is the religion of the federation, freedom of religion is part of our country's constitution, making Malaysia one of the most peaceful countries in the region and the world. Some of these temples were built simply to serve as a prayer house for the local Hindu communities, and some have mystical stories associated with its origins. Here are the top 10 most beautiful Hindu temples in Malaysia according to Poison Apple.
1) Batu Caves
1) Batu Caves
Batu Caves is a series of caves with cave temples built within a limestone hill. It is one of the most popular Hindu shrines outside India. Dedicated to Lord Murugan, it is an auspicious place for pilgrimage during the holy festival of Thaipusam. At a height of 42.7 meters, the iconic idol of Lord Murugan is the tallest statue in the region. In 1878, the limestone hill were recorded by colonial authorities. But it was officially made a place fo worship by one K. Thamboosamy Pillai, a trader from India who was inspired by the vel-shaped entrance of the main cave and dedicated the first temple to Lord Murugan. The 272 concrete steps leading to the cave can be quite a walk, but worth the journey for both devotees and tourists alike.
The idol of Lord Muruga greets devotees as the walk into the main square. Behind it is the staircase leading up to the main temple.
The crowd can reach millions of people during the holy festival of Thaipusam where many devotees would come with grand kavadis, milk offering or alms for the poor.
Another large idol, this time of Lord Hanuman.
Inside one of the cave temples.
The main temple built inside one of the caves.
2) Sri Poyatha Moorthi Temple, Melaka
One might not think this as a Hindu temple based on its simple architecture. But the reason it is so famous is because of its beautiful history. The Sri Poyatha Moorthi Temple is the oldest functioning Hindu temple in the region. Unlike most Hindu temples which are run by people of Tamil ancestry, this temple is one of the few existing Chitty temples in Malaysia. It was built by a local Chitty leader after the Dutch colonial government gave him a plot of land back in 1781. Dedicated to the remover of obstacles, Ganesha, this temple is located on Jalan Tukang Emas, which is famously known as Harmony Street because it also houses a mosque and Chinese temple. There are another two Chitty temples located in the local Chitty village.
Traditional South Indian sense of style assimilated with local Malay and Javanese architecture.
The simple interior of the temple.
3) Tebrau Glass Temple
Also known as the Arulmigu Sri Ranakaliamman temple, this house of worship is the first to be listed in the Malaysian Book of Records as the first and only glass temple in the nation on May 12, 2010. It was rebuilt as a glass temple after its guru was inspired by a glass Thai temple he visited in Bangkok. He believed a temple of glass could capture the attention of believers from a vast distance and attract them to come and perform their prayers. After its major renovation, it has become one of the state of Johor's major tourist attractions.
The old exterior facade is still well-preserved.
Everything is made of glass!
Since Hinduism is a religion of tolerance that accepts worship to images of God according to other faiths, idols of Buddha and Jesus can be found alongside those of Hindu deities.
4) Maran Murugan Temple
Another temple dedicated to Lord Murugan, this temple's actual name is the Sri Marathandavar Bala Dhandayuthapani Alayam. Its mystical origins continue to baffle both devotees and tourists alike as till today, some visitors still experience miracles here. Nearly 120 years ago, construction of the road from Kuala Lumpur to Kuantan was in progress here. When a large tree was being chopped, it started to bleed. Suddenly, one of the South Indian migrant workers went into a trance and warned against chopping down the tree and that the road could be built a shorter distance away. The British supervisor scoffed off these as nonsense and wanted to continue with the original plan. Not too long after that incident, something miraculous happened. The figure of a child appeared on the tree trunk. The British supervisor was shocked and finally acknowledged that there was indeed some higher divine power at work here. Once the road was laid away from the tree, The area became sacred to the local Hindu immigrant community. The temple was finally built here. Today, it features a lavish architecture and is painted in a striking gold. Despite the renovation process, the sacred tree is still standing tall within the temple's main prayer hall.
The temple as it looks today.
The grand interior.
The sacred tree.
5) Klang Perumal Temple
Also known as the Sri Sundararaja Perumal Temple, this 117-year-old temple is located in Klang, Selangor. It is often referred to as the Thirupathi of Southeast Asia after its famous namesake in India since it is one of the oldest and largest Vaishnavite temple in the region. The temple is dedicated to Perumal, or Thirumaal as he is also known, a popularly worshiped avatar of Lord Vishnu by South Indians. The temple's Gopuram is one of the city's most famous landmarks as it features many sculpurtures and carvings of deities from different epics. The temple is very close to the city's Little India. The temple became the first Hindu shrine to receive an International Organisation for Standards (ISO) award for its quality sustained contribution in religions, cultural and social service to the local community.
6) Sri Kandaswamy Kovil, Brickfields
The temple all bright and shiny one night before a grand festival celebration.
The iconic Gopuram tower.
The reason this temple showcases rich Sri Lankan architecture and not South Indian like most other temples is because it is one of the country's most prominent Ceylonese Tamil temples. The reason the rituals here are followed rigidly according to the rules of the Saiva Agama Scriptures is because the temple itself is over a century old. Even videography and photography are prohibited inside its premises. Located along Jalan Scott, Brickfields in Kuala Lumpur, the temple is one of the city's most beautiful and is often featured on postcards.
Authentic Sri Lankan Tamil architecture.
The Gopuram tower.
The view from across the street.
7) Sri Mahamariamman Temple, Kuala Lumpur
Another century-old Hindu temple in Kuala Lumpur, this temple dedicated to the Mother Goddess Amman features the ornate Raja Gopuram tower which is built in the style of South Indian temples. Founded in 1873, this temple was one of the earliest places of worship for early Hindu immigrants and is now one of the country's most important cultural and national heritage.
8) Waterfall Temple, Penang
South Indian at the middle, neo-classical at the sides.
Like other major cultural and religious landmarks in the capital, the temple is brightly lit at night.
Inside the temple compound.
The main prayer hall.
8) Waterfall Temple, Penang
Built at the cost of RM10 million, this is the largest Murugan temple outside India. This is Penang's answer to the Klang Valley's Batu Caves. Officially known as the Arulmigu Balathandayuthapani Temple, it is more famously known as the Penang Waterfall Temple because is located close to a waterfall. The temple project started some 10 years ago when Penang Hindu Endowments Board (PHEB) deemed that the original Murugan temple sitting on the hill below the new structure was not big enough to accommodate the rapidly increasingly growing Hindu population and the huge crowd of devotees during major Hindu festivals, particularly Thaipusam. The majestic seven-storey 21.6m-tall main tower was built by craftsmen from India. Over 500 steps, lead from the foothill to its 20,000 square foot hall. Almost a hundred Hindu priests from the six main temples dedicated to Lord Muruga in India and the Parisada Hindu Dharma from Bali took part in the temple's consecration ceremony.
The main entrance right below the Gopuram.
The temple on Thaipusam eve, ready to welcome devotees.
The temple from the foot of the hill.
9) Sri Ayyanar Temple, Taiping
Located in the midst of rubber and oil palm estates of the outskirts of the fast developing Perakian town of Taiping, this temple is dedicated to the Tamil village deity Sri Ayyanar. Its humble beginnings starts when a middle-aged Indian migrant from Madurai named Periamma built a small shrine for Sri Ayyanar below a tree. She built the deity's idol by using a handful of sand which she brought from her village mixed with clay. The idol is still well preserved till today. The elderly Periamma soon lead the local Hindu migrants in their worship during holy festivities. An English colonial officer did not approve of this gatherings, probably as he wanted the tree that housed the modest idol to be removed for future projects. On that same night, the Englishman dreamed that milk sprang out of the tree he planned to remove. The next day, he found that his dream had come true. Accepting that there was indeed some kind of divine intervention at work here, he granted his permission for the tree to be kept, and the religious gatherings to be continued. Today, the temple is most famous for its 72 feet tall statue of Sri Ayyanar.
10) Batu Gajah Amman Temple
Another temple dedicated to the Mother Goddess, this temple's simple architecture might not strike you as being one of the most beautiful and famous in Malaysia. But it is most famous for its rich history. Located close to the famous Kellie's Castle, this temple's construction was funded by none other then Kellie Smith himself. Legend has it that Kellie longed for a son. One of the South Indian migrant workers advised him to pray to the Hindu Mother Goddess, Amman. Smith joined a special prayer function held by the workers. This was of course done in secret as it would have caused quite a stir as it would have badly affected his image as a good Christian Victorian gentleman. Soon, his wife Agnes conceived and gave birth to his son, Anthony. Kellie had always been fascinated by the Hindu religion and exotic India. He then built a temple for the Mother Goddess to show his appreciation. The local Hindu community were thankful to him that they built a statue of Smith alongside the statues of the deities at the entrance to the temple. There has been reports of the existence of two tunnels that run under the river near Kellie's unfinished castle. One of these tunnels is said to connect the castle to the Hindu temple some distance away. Many descendants of the South Indian Hindu labourers brought over to the Malay Peninsular to work on the castle still live nearby till today and the temple remains a prayer house and a place of gathering for them.
The temple, as seen from the highway.
The simple Gopuram.
Kellie Smith's statue among the other statues.