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Thursday, July 28, 2011

Chinatown - Not just Chinese Temples

When talking of Chinatown, the first impressions is that it is a place founded by the Chinese and the facilities there caters only for the Chinese.  Hence, there should be plenty of Chinese temples which is correct.

One of the biggest temple in the area is the 天福宫 Thian Hock Keng temple in Telok Ayer Street. This temple was built in 1839 and completed in 1842 by the Hokkien and is dedicated to Ma Zhu the Goddness of the Sea.
One of the unique feature of temples in the early days was that no nails were used in the constructions and the whole place were adorned with carvings, sculptures and intricate columns. 

Nearby is the  仙祖宫 Siang Cho Keong Temple. Built in 1869 by the Hokkiens, it is dedicated to the Tua Pek Gong. Nowadays, the temple is more famous for its lucky 4-D numbers. On the first and fifteen of every month, devotees gathered to witness the drawing of a new set of 4-D number which is pasted prominently on the main urn.  

There are other Chinese temples nearby but within the confines of Amoy Street, Telok Street and Cecil Street, these are the only 2.

Surprisingly, there are 2 mosques.  The first is not exactly a mosque but the Nagore Durgha Shrine. The place built in 1828 and is dedicated to Shahul Hamida holy man from India. The Shrine restoration was recently completed and is now an Indian Muslim Heritage Centre but sadly commercialization has reared its ugly head and the main courtyard is now occupied by a Banquet Food outlet!

Further up the road is the Al-Abrar Mosque. It was built for the Tamil and Indian Muslims in 1827 and moved to its present site in 1855. Today, it is a popular mosque for the office workers around the area. 

Of course, the area is not completed if there is no church and right at the top of Telok Ayer Street is the majestic castle like Chinese Methodist Church. Built in 1925 by Westerners to house the growing number of Christians coming from the West, the church first had it roots in 1889 when a physician and missionary first started the church.

No Indian temples? In those days the Indians in the areas were predominantly Muslims but nearby at South Bridge Road, there is the Sri Mariamman Temple, the oldest Indian temple in Singapore.
Picture from Wikipedia

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