Sri Thendayuthapani Temple, on Tank Road, is one of Singapore's most beautiful and vibrant temples. Completed in 1859, it is also one of the oldest. Since the temple was built by the Nattukkotai Chettiyar community, who were Shaivas or worshipers of Lord Shiva, the temple is also often called Chettiyar's Temple. It is constrcuted in Dravidian, or South Indian style of architecture, whose highlight is the colourful roof, or the gopuram. The interior of the temple is large, and spacious. The pillars, and a part of the ceilings are done in a beautiful golden colour. The magnificence, and vibrancy of the temple led it to be gazetted as a National Monument in October, 2014.
Inside the temple, the main sanctum houses the golden statue of Lord Murugan. Separate sanctums housing statues of Lord Shiva and Goddess Shakti, the parents of Lord Murugan, are also present within the temple. This grand edifice isn't the only gift the Chettiyars left for Singapore. They also introduced the festival of Thaipusam, held January, to Southeast Asia. On the day of Thaipusam, grand processions pass through the roads starting from Sri Srinivasa Perumal Temple, on Serangoon Road, crossing several other Hindu temples, and finally ending at Sri Thendayuthapani Temple. This procession is one-of-a-kind, and a must see if you're in Singapore at the time.
History and Heritage
Originally from Tamil Nadu, India, Nattukottai Chettiars were one of the first immigrants to arrive and settle in Singapore. As a part of their tradition, they built shrines dedicated to Lord Murugan wherever they settled throughout Southeast Asia. As a result, they established Sri Thendayuthapani in 1859 and around 60 years later, Sri Layan Sithi Vinayagar Temple, dedicated to Lord Murugan's brother, Lord Ganesha, in Singapore. Every Chettiyar donated something or the other for the construction of the temple.
It is said that the temple was constructed nearly 35 years after the arrival of the Chettiyars in Singapore. Before that, a spear had been installed beneath a Pipal tree, near a pond. The spear was worshipped because the weapon represented Lord Murugan.
Architecture of Sri Thendayuthapani Temple
Sri Thendayuthapani Temple features a five-tiered gopuram, bearing colourful statues of gods, goddesses, and intricate motifs. A riot of colours, the Gopuram is distinctly visible from a distance and guides visitors to the temple from afar. The interior also houses typical Chettiar elements of architecture such as thinnais or raised platforms, built on either side of the entrance for guests to sit on, and glass panels lining the prayer hall or mandapam. 48 glass panels have been installed inside the temple which showcases different forms of Lord Shiva's dance of destruction, the Nataraja: the form of Lord Shiva as the Lord of dance, Lord Ganesha, Goddess Minakshi- the mother of Lord Murugan, and several other Hindi deities.
The temple has been restored and renovated from time to time, and now houses a Marriage hall with dining facility, separate staff quarters, a library, and a spacious and elaborate stage for cultural performances.
Thaipusam is celebrated in January and is held in honour of Lord Murugan's victory over evil. It is a major festival among South Indians, especially Chettiyars, and it held with grand preparations and arrangements. On the eve of Thaipusam, a procession called Punar Pusam takes place - through the city to Sri Layan Sithi Vinayagar Temple, and then back to Sri Thendayuthapani Temple in the evening. The statue of Lord Murugan is placed in a silver chariot for everyone to see.
On the main day, a more massive procession takes place which is three kilometres long, and starts from Sri Layan Sithi Vinayagar Temple on Serangoon Road and ends at Sri Thendayuthapani Temple. Many worshippers participate in the procession, and it is a grand sight to look out for. Some muscular and strong men carry steel structures called kavadis to thank Lord Murugan for his blessings. A few devotees also carry milk pots or kudams on their heads.
How to reach Sri Thendayuthapani Temple
The nearest MRT station is Dhoby Gaut MRT Station from where the temple is a 5-minute walk. For those taking a bus, take bus numbers 54, 64, 123, 139, 143 and alight at Chettiar’s Temple stop.
Since it is a hindu temple, please take off shoes before entering.
It is recommended to cover your shoulders and legs before entering the temple.
Photography with flash is not allowed inside the temple.