Sri Maha Mariamman Temple

Sri Maha Mariamman Temple

A slice of southern India in Chinatown

More on Kuala Lumpur

The largest and oldest Hindu temple in Kuala Lumpur, Sri Maha Mariamman Temple is surprisingly located on the western edge of Chinatown rather than say Little India or Brickfields and it is well worth setting aside some time to visit.

Travelfish says:

The temple was founded by K. Thamboosamy Pillai a prominent Tamil who was born in Singapore in 1850, educated at Raffles and was eventually dispatched to Klang in 1875. After some time he left government service and got into tin mining in a big way and became exceptionally wealthy. The acknowledged leader of the Tamil community in Kuala Lumpur, he founded the original temple in 1873 as a private family shrine, moving it to the current site in 1885. Later, after his death in Singapore in 1902, the temple was opened to the general public in the 1920s.

Late in the day at the central prayer hall. : Stuart McDonald.
Late in the day at the central prayer hall. Photo: Stuart McDonald

In its earliest days, the temple was made of attap (thatch made from coconut palms) but this was demolished in 1887 and replaced with a brick structure. This in turn was demolished to make way for the current temple in 1968, with the impressive towered gateway added in 1972.

The central shrine is dedicated to Mariamman, with Ganesh to the left and Lord Muruga to the right. Further alters are in the rear corners of the site. Observe not just the photogenic sculpture layered upon all five levels of the tower, but also the decorative rooflines and walls. The temple can get very busy with both devotees and tour groups, but late afternoon can be a good time to visit if you’d like the place a bit more to yourself.

No shortage of garlands. : Stuart McDonald.
No shortage of garlands. Photo: Stuart McDonald

The busiest time of the year is Thaipusam, when a silver chariot is wheeled out to in the early morning to transport Lord Muruga to Batu Caves. Deepavali is another very busy time at the temple.

Sri Maha Mariamman is just a short walk from central Chinatown and the closest LRT station is Pasar Seni. Allow 30 minutes for a visit. You need to take your shoes off before entering—there is a shoe closet which will store them for you for 20 cents.

Contact details for Sri Maha Mariamman Temple

Address: Jalan HS Tun Lee, Chinatown
Coordinates (for GPS): 101º41'46.66" E, 3º8'36.35" N
See position in Apple or Google Maps: Apple Maps | Google Maps
Admission: Free

Reviewed by

Stuart McDonald co-founded Travelfish.org with Samantha Brown in 2004. He has lived in Thailand, Cambodia and Indonesia, where he worked as an under-paid, under-skilled language teacher, an embassy staffer, a newspaper web-site developer, freelancing and various other stuff. His favourite read is The Art of Travel by Alain de Botton.

Tours in Malaysia


These tours are provided by Travelfish partner GetYourGuide.


Our top 10 other sights and activities in and around Kuala Lumpur

Islamic Arts Museum Malaysia
Islamic Arts Museum Malaysia

If you have time for one museum, this is it

Tours in KL: Bike with Elena
Tours in KL: Bike with Elena

Pedal eat pedal eat

KL Tower
KL Tower

Towering views, towering prices

Petronas Twin Towers
Petronas Twin Towers

The symbol of modern KL

Shopping in KL
Shopping in KL

Shop till you drop

Jamek Mosque
Jamek Mosque

Kuala Lumpur’s most beautiful downtown mosque

Chow Kit Market
Chow Kit Market

KL’s largest wet market

Heritage Centre
Heritage Centre

Fighting the good fight for Malaysia's heritage

Walking tour: KL’s Chinatown
Walking tour: KL’s Chinatown

A stroll around the block

Tours in KL: KL Food Experience
Tours in KL: KL Food Experience

Bring an empty stomach