The ‘must see’ temples of Kuala Lumpur

Kuala Lumpur is rightly described as a melting pot with numerous ethnicities represented throughout the city. There are Chinese and Malays in roughly equal proportions and a smaller number of Indians.

Consequently, the city has a number of religions represented in its temples. These are predominantly Hindu and Chinese places of worship, although the area is obviously home to a number of Islamic mosques.

For this article however I’ll concentrate on the more interesting temples I’ve come across during my visits to KL. It’s important to note that while these are open as tourist attractions, you should be mindful that they are important to people’s beliefs and should be treated as such.

Do check any rules of the temple as you arrive, especially policies on photography and which areas you are allowed to visit. You may also need to remove your shoes and make sure you are appropriately dressed. Enjoy!

Tua Pek Konk Temple. Pic: Tourism Malayisa.

Sri Mahamriammam temple, Chinatown (Hindu – Indian)

Jalan Tun H. S. Lee, Tel. +60 4-263 4941

One Indian temple you should not miss is the exotic Sri Mahamariamman temple built in south Indian style; it’s the oldest still operational Indian temple in KL and the wealthiest! It is located in Chinatown and impossible to miss with ornate sculpture and a five tiered tower to help it stand out on Jalan Tun H S Lee.

The temple was originally constructed in 1873, but this newer version dates back to 1968. It was once used as a private place of worship for the Pillari family but opened to the public in 1920.

Locals and tourists alike are grateful for this today as it provides an excellent opportunity to see a Hindu temple outside of India. Most of the worshippers are Tamil although the deity Marimman is worshipped by many Hindus and seen as the protector of those who are at the mercy of the natural world – something all travelers will relate to.

There are plenty of architectural features worth noting – beautifully decorated ceilings in the prayer hall, the nine interlocking triangles in the temple, the many images of Hindu gods, and the natural additions that include a water fountain and cascading waterfall.

The temple is open 6am-8pm Saturday to Thursday, and 6am-9pm Fridays. You will have to remove your shoes before entering. If you enjoy this Hindu temple I recommend you visit the Sri Raja Rajeswary Temple in Ampang.

Thean Hou Temple (Buddhist – Chinese)

65 Persiaran Endah, Taman Persiaran Desa, Tel. +603 2274 7088,

One of the other “must see” temples in KL is Thean Hou that was built by the local Hainanese community. If you’re here for Chinese New Year or the Mooncake / Mid Autumn festival this is absolutely the place to come when the temple comes alive with festivities such as lantern parades and dragon dancing.

Thean Hou is located on Robson Hill and one of the largest temples in South East Asia. The Hainanese community manages it and it’s developed exponentially thanks to public donations.

There are Buddhist, Taoist and Confucian elements in the temple with an incredible array of modern architectural and traditional design. Understandably it’s popular with tourists and there are signs in English explaining where you take your shoes off and donations required for joss sticks and candles. Many Chinese also come to say prayers, make a wish at the wishing well, see the tortoises or visit the herb garden. There’s also a food court if all the sightseeing and prayers build an appetite.

Batu Caves (Hindu – India)

26A, Jalan SBC 5, Taman Sri Batu Caves, Batu Caves, Selangor, tel. +603 2287 9422

Let me finish with my favorite temple hidden away in the Batu Caves, 13km outside the city. Here you’ll find a popular Hindu shrine dedicated to Lord Murugan – you’ll spot him towering in gold at the entrance.

Lord Muruga guards the entrance to the Batu Caves. Pic: Tourism Malayisa.

Now the bad news … to reach the temple and its caves you must climb a steep flight of 272 steps! These rise almost 100m above the ground but it’s worth it. The Batu Caves are a focal point of the annual Hindu festival of “Thaipusam” celebrated by the Tamil community – well worth coming to see.

Inside the amazing Batu Caves. Pic: Tourism Malaysia.

The caves are easily reached by train from KL Sentral or buses from Central Market or Jalan Pudu. Opening hours are roughly 6am-9pm daily.

KL contains many other temples tucked away down street corners and alleyways. Keep an eye out for religious activities, gonging bells or wafting incense and you might stumble upon something delightful.

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