Sri Krishnan Temple

Sri Krishnan Temple was established on Waterloo Street in 1870. It is the only South Indian Hindu temple in Singapore dedicated exclusively to Sri Krishna and his consort Rukmini.1

Sri Krishnan Temple was established in 1870 when Hanuman Beem Singh set up an idol of Sri Krishna under a banyan tree on Waterloo Street, so as to cater to the religious needs of a large Hindu community that had established itself in the area bound by Bras Basah Road, Victoria Street and Albert Street.2 Little is known about Beem Singh. According to his great granddaughter, he was deported by the British administration from India to Singapore.3

When Beem Singh became too old to manage the temple, he passed on the responsibility to his son, Humna Somapah. Then in 1904, the role of managing the temple was taken on by Somapah’s niece, Joognee Ammal, also known as Jaguna Ammal,4 who built the main shrine. In 1935, Ammal passed on the management to V. Pakirisamy Pillai, who built the temple’s hall and walls in memory of his mother Alamaylo Ammal.5

Pillai was the son of Koona Vayloo Pillai, a wealthy Tamil businessman. When his father died in 1931, Pillai and his brother Narayanasamy Pillai inherited his father’s estate. A chief court clerk with the firm Allen and Gledhill, Pillai was chairman of the four main Hindu temples’ management committee.6 He was also a member of the Singapore Advisory Council from 1946 to 1948 and the Advisory Committee under the Emergency Regulations in 1948, as well as a municipal commissioner from 1949 to 1950.7 In addition, he was president of the Inter-Religious Organisation and the Singapore Indian Association.8 Pillai was made a justice of the peace in 1947.9 For his social and community work, he was also conferred the Member of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire in 1952, the Coronation Medal in 1953, and the Bintang Bakti Masharakat in 1970 by then president of Singapore.10

After Pillai’s death in May 1984, his son Sivaraman took over the role of managing the temple. Under Sivaraman’s leadership, the temple underwent extensive renovation works from 1985 to 1989. Then in November 1989, the Mahakumbhabishekam or consecration ceremony was held and presided over by the guest-of-honour, then Minister for Community Development and Foreign Affairs Wong Kan Seng.11

As Sri Krishnan Temple’s location is very near to the Kwan Im Thong Hood Cho Temple, many Chinese devotees also light joss sticks at the Sri Krishnan Temple.12 The management of Sri Krishnan Temple thus decided to build an altar dedicated to Guan Yin, the Goddess of Mercy, within the temple grounds.13

Sri Krishnan Temple underwent several renovations during its history. By 2016, the compound was about 1,008 sq m and comprised a 220-square-metre prayer hall, as well as a 788-square-metre four-storey annexe with a basement of multi-purpose rooms.14

The temple was built in a classic, Southern Indian style, in accordance with the Agama Sastra, which prescribes the rules for the construction of temples. Its main entrance is decorated with statues depicting the 10 incarnations of Hindu deity Vishnu, a wedding scene and Garuda, Vishnu’s mount. The gopuram (main entrance tower) is double-sided and decorated with statues studded with semi-precious stones.15

Constructed in 1933, the temple’s main shrine is made of manually ground Chinese pebbles and granite, and features multiple cornices and pilasters. Located above the main shrine is a dome which forms the tallest point of the temple. The dome, which was also constructed in 1933, is adorned with deities, as well as copper and gold plating with intricate design.16

In June 2014, the temple’s gopuram, main prayer hall and surrounding boundary walls were gazetted for conservation.17

Variant names
Sri Krishna Bagawan Temple,18 Sri Krishna Bhagawan Temple,19 Sri Krishna’s Temple,20 Krishna Temple,21 and Krishnan Temple.22

Thulaja Naidu

1. Lea Wee, “Krishna for Kids and Grown-Ups,” Straits Times, 13 July 2000, 78. (From NewspaperSG)
2. Dhoraisingam S. Samuel, Singapore’s Heritage: Through Places of Historical Interest (Singapore: Dhoraisingam S. Samuel, 2010), 262. (Call no. RSING 959.57 SAM-[HIS])
3. Lakshmi Naidu, oral history interview by Tan Beng Luan, 13 October 1981, transcript and MP audio, 27:25, National Archives of Singapore (accession no. 0001100), 5.
4. “Domestic Occurences Death,” Straits Times, 18 December 1931, 10; “Death of Mrs. Toolsah,” Straits Times, 23 December 1931, 12. (From NewspaperSG)
5. Samuel, Singapore’s Heritage, 262.
6. Samuel, Singapore’s Heritage, 262.
7. Samuel, Singapore’s Heritage, 262; “Golden Wedding Joy for Leader of Tamil Community,” Singapore Free Press, 8 June 1961, 3; “Crisis Rules Extension Is Sought,” Singapore Free Press, 13 August 1948, 5. (From NewspaperSG)
8. Samuel, Singapore’s Heritage, 262; Mr Pakirisamy Made President,” Singapore Free Press, 2 May 1951, 5; “S’pore Indian Assn. President Resigns,” Malaya Tribune, 9 June 1941, 2. (From NewspaperSG)
9. “King Honours S’pore Passive Defence Men,” Malaya Tribune, 2 January 1947, 5. (From NewspaperSG)
10. “95 Get Coronation Medals,” Singapore Standard, 6 June 1953, 4; “M.B.E. for Mr. V. Pakirisamy,” Indian Daily Mail, 5 June 1952, 1 (From NewspaperSG); Samuel, Singapore’s Heritage, 262.
11. “Kan Seng Gets a Crown of Flowers at Temple Consecration Ceremony,” Straits Times, 3 November 1989, 1. (From NewspaperSG)
12. Parvathi Nayar, “God of All Things,” Business Times, 15 July 2000, 21; “Godly Pursuits,” Straits Times, 8 December 2002, 2. (From NewspaperSG)
13. “Godly Pursuits.” 
14. Bryna Singh, “Makeshift Shrine Now Ornate Temple,” Straits Times, 2 April 2016, 2–3. (From NewspaperSG)
15. Singh, “Makeshift Shrine Now Ornate Temple.”
16. Singh, “Makeshift Shrine Now Ornate Temple.”
17. Singh, “Makeshift Shrine Now Ornate Temple.”
18. “Wedding at Bagavan Temple,” Straits Times, 20 June 1960, 4. (From NewspaperSG)
19. “Music Recital,” Straits Times, 19 February 1959, 4. (From NewspaperSG)
20. “The Arya Sangam,” Straits Times, 18 February 1914, 10. (From NewspaperSG)
21. “Dance Recital,” Straits Times, 28 February 1959, 9. (From NewspaperSG)
22. “Untitled,” Straits Times, 20 September 1945, 2. (From NewspaperSG)

The information in this article is valid as at 2019 and correct as far as we are able to ascertain from our sources. It is not intended to be an exhaustive or complete history of the subject. Please contact the Library for further reading materials on the topic.


Religious buildings
Historic buildings--Singapore
Temples, Hindu--Singapore