German Girl Shrine

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Weather:

Time Required: Less than 1 hour

Timings:

24 hours

Entry Fee:

No entry fee
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German Girl Shrine, Singapore Overview

The German Girl Shrine, also known as Berlin Heilingtum, is situated on the island of Pulau Ubin and is one of the most unconventional shrines in Singapore. Legend has it that during the outbreak of World War I, the German girl, to whom the memorial is dedicated to, fell to a tragic death in an attempt to escape from the British who had rounded up their family's plantation on the island. A few days later, some Malay villagers found her decomposing body covered in ants, and decided to bury her on the hill. After the war ended, her family tried to look for her, but in vain. Subsequently, her body was exhumed by some islanders and cremated.

A temple was built on the site of her grave, to pay respects to the German girl. The temple was famous amongst gamblers because it is said that they were blessed with winning streaks after paying their respects to the German girl. The shrine houses a few of her items like a cross, and coins, and an eclectic mix of things starting with nail polish, brushes and lipsticks. The German girl is represented by a cased doll in the centre of the shrine.

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The German Girl shrine used to be a bright yellow hut, built when a granite quarry took over the hill in 1972. Before this, it was a temporary tombstone erected by the Islanders. During this time, her remains were kept in a well-decorated, porcelain, Jiangsu urn inside a temporary Taoist Temple on the hill. The German girl had become a Taoist deity, referred affectionately to as "Na Du Gu Niang" or Lady Datuk by the local Chinese.

The cased doll inside, who is the symbolic idol of the shrine, was sent by a former resident of Pulau Ubin who is said to have dreamt of the deity for three consecutive days. Offerings of fruits, flowers, nail polishes, brushes, perfumes, cosmetics and lipsticks abound inside the shrine as offerings to the German girl. Today, the memorial has undergone several renovations and wears a beautiful wooden brown and white facade.

In the 20th century, two German families, Daniel Brandt and Hermann Muhlingan, owned a coffee plantation on the island of Pulau Ubin. The identity of the German girl and her relation to these families hasn't been established, yet. In the August of 1914, the United Kingdom declared war on Germany, and the British in Singapore began rounding up German properties, ships and businesses. During this time, the British seized the plantation, and the family was detained. Fearful, the German girl escaped into the woods. However, her efforts were in vain, as Malay island dwellers discovered her rotting body. They assumed that she fell off the cliff, in her attempts to run away. They buried her body on the hill.

When the German family came back after the war, looking for their daughter, they couldn't find her. Disheartened, they went back to Germany and never returned. Her body had been exhumed, and cremated and her remains were kept in a porcelain urn along with her crucifix and some coins inside a Taoist shrine on the hill. Subsequently, a concrete structure was built in her honour. The urn inside the shrine is not the original one, as it is said that it was stolen by robbers. Even though her remains are not on the island anymore, locals strongly believe that her soul and energy are still a part of the island, and its history.

  • Shoes need to be taken off before entering the shrine.
  • There is a scenic pond nearby. Do give it a visit when here.

The German Girl shrine is located on the island of Pulau Ubin. The easiest way to get to Pulau Ubin is to take the MRT to Tanah Merah MRT Station (EW4). After you get down, Bus No. 2 to Changi Village bus interchange can be taken. Changi Point jetty is a few minutes' walk from the bus interchange. From the jetty, a bumboat ride costing SGD 2 per person one way can be taken to Ubin. The German girl shrine is located in the western part of the island. To get there, follow the signs along the Ketam bike trail.

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