One of the Oldest Temple, Sri Senpaga Vinayagar Temple
The Cholas, a long-reigning dynasty in southern India, are reputed to have been the greatest temple builders in Indian history. The Sri Senpaga Vinayagar Temple, located in the entertainment area of Katong off Ceylon Road, has been built in the Chola architectural style. This is one of the largest Hindu temples in Singapore, with an understated yellow façade and a 21-meter high Raja Gopuram entrance tower.
The Sri Senpaga Vinayagar Temple is Singapore’s second oldest Hindu temple, having been founded in the 1850s. A stone sculpture of Lord Vinayagar was installed beneath the same Chempaka tree where it had been found and recovered from the shores of Ceylon’s Ethirnayagam Pillay. Chempaka is known as Senpaga in Tamil, and the name of the temple was derived from this.
The fact that Sri Pada Kovil is located at Ceylon Road (where it is) explains why the street got its name. The neighbourhood was named after the many Ceylonese or Sri Lankan Tamil immigrants who lived there in early Singapore, according to local legend.
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The temple was originally a small shelter with an attap roof constructed by Ethirnayagam Pillai and a few Indian workers. After sustaining damage during World War II, the structure was rebuilt several times. In 2003, the temple was restored for the fifth time. While the quiet Katong residential estate’s outside is drab, the interior main hall boasts 32 distinct forms of Lord Vinayagar on four granite pillars, each with eight sculptures.
Sri Senpaga Vinayagar is on Ceylon Road, a few hundred metres down from East Coast Road and near all of the Katong Laksa eateries. It is open daily from 8 a.m. to 9 p.m.