In our melting pot of diverse cultures, we have the privilege of being regularly exposed to the colourful flavours, traditions and architectural beauty of friends and neighbours who have a heritage different than ours. One thing that all these heritages have in common though, is the significance of religion and spirituality that reaches far back. Among the Indian migrants who came to our shores long ago, it was Hinduism that was the predominant religion they brought with them. Over time it has evolved of course, with some practices unique to the local Malaysian Indian community. Central to the sense of community, are Hindu temples, of which there are many in Malaysia. Some are pretty old and have incredible stories about their origins. The architecture itself is incredibly interesting, with so much represented on the exterior alone. These are 7 of the most beautiful Hindu temples in Malaysia we found interesting that still stand today. Well worth exploring on little holidays in Malaysia, to discover our own history and communities.
7 Beautiful Hindu temples in Malaysia
1) Batu Caves Temple, Kuala Lumpur
The 400-million-year-old beautiful limestone caves around the Batu Caves Temples is mentioned in many travel guidebooks around the world. It’s not only the most popular Hindu temple in Malaysia, it is also one of the most popular Hindu temples outside India. It attracts tourists from around the world, yes, but that doesn’t mean it should be any less interesting to Malaysians.
There are three main caves at the site. To reach the biggest cave, you need to climb a total of 272 steps! The huffing and puffing is worth it though — just watch out for the monkeys. They’re little snatch thiefs! Inside, the caves have beautiful natural lighting streaming in. Imagine the place without tourists, with just swamis chanting prayers, and the spirituality of the place becomes instantly clear.
At the base of the stairs, you will find the world’s tallest statue of Lord Murugan coated in gold. The temple is also a popular pilgrimage site for Hindus from across the region, especially during the Thaipusam Festival. That is one of the most amazing spectacles, with piercings and trances and unique rituals — really worth seeing.
Batu Caves is a must-do for first-time visitors to Kuala Lumpur.
2) Sri Poyatha Moorthi Temple, Melaka
CC by 3.0 / j.fo
Many tourists find it hard to believe that Sri Poyatha Moorthi Temple is actually a Hindu temple as the architectural work is very simple in nature. But this temple has a remarkable history and this is what makes it so special. This is actually the oldest functioning Chitty temple in Malaysia and unlike other temples in the region.
Dedicated to Lord Ganesha, the temple is located on Harmony street which is also home to a mosque and a Chinese temple.
3) Maran Murugan Temple, Pahang
CC 2.0 / Ravi Prakash
Maran Murugan Temple is another temple in Malaysia that is dedicated to Lord Murugan. There are many stories which relate to the construction of the temple in this region. It is wonderful to listen to these folklores.
Many people believe that a lot of miracles have taken place in the temple. Last year, the 121-year-old sacred tree fell, but rest assured, the temple has returned to its full operation.
4) Waterfall Temple, Penang
CC by 3.0 / Sivanesan S
The Waterfall Temple in Penang is also dedicated to Lord Murugan. Located in Georgetown, the temple has great significance for the Hindu community, especially during the Thaipusam festival. The most challenging task here for any devotee is to climb as many as 513 stairs and pay respect to Lord Murugan.
The Waterfall shrine is known to be the largest Murugan temple outside the geographical boundary of India.
5. Sri Shakti Dhevasthanam, Bukit Rotan
Next on the list of marvellous temples in Malaysia worth visiting, is one in a little quiet location.
Bukit Rotan is a quiet little village in Selangor, but it came into prominence in 2013 when the doors of the newly constructed Sri Shakti Dhevasthanam temple were opened to the public. It is also known as the Shakti temple and was built over a period of four years at the cost of RM 12 million. The internal corridor of the temple is lined with 51 beautiful Shakti statues, and these represent the 51 Shakti Peeth which are located in various places of the Indian sub-continent.
6. Sri Mahamariamman Temple, Kuala Lumpur
CC by 3.0 / Yun Huang Yong
The Mahamariamman Temple occupies a special place among the Hindu community in Kuala Lumpur. Located right on the edge of Chinatown, the temple was very popular among the early Indian immigrants in Malaysia. This Hindu temple in Malaysia was built in 1873, but the very colourful tower was added to the temple in 1968. This 5-tier Gopuram tower looks impressive from a distance, and the architecture of the temple reflects a profound influence of the traditional South Indian style. A lot of people prefer to stay near Sri Mahamariamman Temple, and there are a lot of hotels here.
The luxurious Shangri – La Hotel Kuala Lumpur is just 1.5 km from the temple, and there are ample transport options from the hotel to the temple. Budget accommodations are also available near the hotel such as the very well-liked Geo Hotel.
7. Tebrau Glass Temple, Johor Bahru
CC by 2.0 / ultimatekldevil
Located in Johor Bahru, the Tebrau Glass Temple has found a place in the Malaysian Book of records as it was the first and only glass temple in Malaysia as of May 2010. The chief priest of the temple had visited a glass Thai temple in Bangkok and on his return he ordered a massive renovation of the temple. He firmly believed that a glass temple would be able to attract a large number of devotees from across the world.
The full temple was then re-built in glass, but the old exterior facade was still preserved.
Ever since its re-opening, the temple had indeed received a lot of devotees and tourists. The Tebrau Glass Temple is now considered as an iconic attraction in Johor Bahru.
Hindu temples in Malaysia are colourful, iconic and tell us stories of our forefathers. Next time you’re on a holiday in a city where one of these temples stand, take some time to visit it and appreciate not just the stories represented on the steeple of the temple, but the stories of the people and community that built it and worship in it. Just remember to be respectful, don’t go in with cameras blazing, and as you quietly walk the halls of temples open to visitors, you’ll discover many beautiful things that we rarely take time to notice.