The Oldest Places of Worship in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia

I thought it would be fun to share photos of some of the more popular sights in my Malaysian birth-town, Kuala Lumpur or as it’s more usually known, KL.

View of KL (own photo, taken 2013)

View of KL (own photo, taken 2013)

Instead of overloading one post, I’ll split them over two posts, starting with places of worship.

Just so you know, these particular photos are well over 10 years old.

Built in 1907, this is the oldest mosque in the city. Its name, ‘Masjid Jamek’ is Arabic; ‘masjid’ means mosque, and ‘jamek’ means a place where people congregate to worship. It’s situated where the two main rivers of the city, Sungei (river) Klang and Sungei Gombak, meet.

‘Masjid Jamek’ in KL (own photo)

‘Masjid Jamek’ in KL (own photo)

Masjid Jamek -    Mohd Hafiz Noor Shams    (Wikipedia)

Masjid Jamek - Mohd Hafiz Noor Shams (Wikipedia)

The settlers who first came to Malaya (as it was known before it gained independence in 1963) came either to mine for tin or to work the rubber plantations. In KL, it was mainly tin mining, and early settlers built their shacks here. In the 1850s, miners would unload their equipment and trek into the jungle to dig for tin.

The oldest Hindu temple in KL is the Sri Mahamariamman Temple, built in 1873 in the South Indian style, and is located, interestingly enough, on the edge of Chinatown.

Sri Mahamariamman Temple (own photo)

Sri Mahamariamman Temple (own photo)

The 5-tier pyramid-shaped gate tower, called ‘gopuram’ in Tamil, which means ‘tower’, is decorated with depictions of Hindu gods and goddesses, which were carved by artisans from India. What I particularly like are the shops that flank the temple’s entrance, giving the impression that it’s very much a part of daily life, accessible to the ordinary people.

Sri Mahamariamman Temple
Sri Mahamariamman Temple

An interesting little aside – generally speaking, those who came from India came to work the rubber plantations, while the Chinese came for the tin mining.

Then we have the oldest Taoist (Chinese) temple in KL, the Sin Sze Si Ya Temple.

Sin Sze Si Ya Temple (own photo)

Sin Sze Si Ya Temple (own photo)

It was founded in 1864 by Yap Ah Loy, who is regarded as the founding father of KL. During the mid-19th century, he developed the town as a commercial and mining centre. There’s a street named after him in the heart of Chinatown, Jalan (road) Yap Ah Loy. The way the road network is laid out, it’s near-impossible to just pull over and snap a couple of pictures; I took this as we whizzed by!

Next week, I’ll share photos of some other well-known sights in KL.