Malaysia Visit: Kota Bharu Temples

My life will forever be tied to Kota Bharu, Malaysia.

Yes, it’s officially the name I see on my birth certificate under birthplace.

But this also feels like the town of my spiritual birthplace.

Growing up, visits to Kota Bharu were always filled with audible Muslim prayers around town throughout the day, visits to the Hindu Sri Muthumarrian temple and plenty of 4 a.m. prayer time with my grandparents. Well, they prayed. I tried to stay awake.

I’m back once again visiting this northeastern Malaysian town that has so much family and spiritual significance to me. It’s also the place my great-grandfather moved to from India nearly 100 years ago.

Here are some photos of the Sri Muthumariamman temple from the Thai-border town of Tumpat. The South Indian Mother Goddess Mariamman, believed to have been found in the sands along the beach of the coastal town of Tumpat 100 years ago, resides here.

Like my friend Vidya who shares beautiful visits of temples in South India, I hope you enjoy a few photos below from my recent travels and temple visits.

Lord Ganesha
Lord Ganesha
Lakshmi- the Hindu Goddess of wealth
The 100+ year old Tumpat temple
The 100+ year old Tumpat temple
Decorative tower, gopuram, above the temple entrance.
Decorative tower, or gopuram, above the temple entrance

So many memories of Tumpat temple visits, which is about 30 km away from the main town of Kota Bharu. The last years in Kota Bharu have brought forth a more centrally-located temple, the Siva Subramaniyar temple. The temple opened in 2004 and serves the local Indian Hindu communities in the central part of town.  A few more pics:

The newest Kota Bharu addition.
The newest Kota Bharu addition
Hindu Gods welcoming visitors
Say What!?!

As I’m visiting temples and family in Kota Bharu, I hope you’re having a good summer too. Going anywhere interesting? Let me know in the comments below.

* Did you know that I post inspirational message and travel photos on Facebook. Add me and keep in touch:)


  1. Loved this wonderful temple tour through your photos, Vishnu! Yes, I’m having a good summer, but staying put until the fall when it’s cooler. That’s when my husband and I enjoy getting out and doing things. The heck with the heat! 🙂
    Blessings to you!

    1. Thanks Martha – I hear you about the heat. It was so hot in the US this year that I think it was actually cooler in parts of Asia. Please keep us updated on your fall travels.

  2. Those temples and statues look fantastic! I’m struck by how colorful they are and how well-kept and modern that 100-year-old temple looks. But how could you not talk about the food? Malaysian foo, in my humble opinion, is some of the best food in the world. As for travel, we’re on the third leg of our journey — we’re in Germany! I heart Berlin so much.

    P.S. — Hope you’re having fun! I tend to go a little crazy after 3 days when on a family vacation. 😀

    1. Thanks Jammie – glad you enjoyed them. The reason they’re so well kept is a lot (all) Hindu temples have a major renovation and celebration every 12 years so they are kept looking pretty new and modern even.

      This was more of a temple update not a food update. haha but yes Malaysia has the best and cheapest food in the world. I posted a couple food pics on Facebook! Glad to hear you’re having a blast in Germany.

  3. Nice pictures, Vishnu. Are you sure the second one is Mariamma and not Lakshmi? Asking because usually Lakshmi is portrayed like that. Kota Bharu sounds beautiful!

    😀 Thanks for the mention! Have a fab holiday!

    1. Thanks Vidya – you’re right! I’ll make sure the photo is updated. Thanks for always posting pictures of sites and temples around India.

  4. Love your pics from your spiritual birthplace Vishnu. It’s so great that you get to visit your grandparents. Family is so important in our life and keeping in touch with our roots reminds us of who we were and who we’ve now become.

    Enjoy your hols.

    1. Hi Elle – thanks for your message – I had a wonderful time. Yes, I had a chance to visit my mom’s parents this trip and it was a very good way to connect with my roots.

  5. I wonder how it is to live there and worship at a young age and at 4 am. Pretty amazing! I’ve been to a Hindu temple in Singapore ~ the structures are the same. I wish we had someone explain all those images to us. The temple’s so colorful from the outside but there’s a sense of the Sacred inside…

    It’s school time here, vacation ended in March for the kids. Perhaps, in December we might go to a cool place outside Manila ~ that would be a relief.

    Enjoy your vacation with your family.

    1. Melissa – usually, I visit temples in Singapore too but not this time. They have a lot of traditional Hindu temples all over Southeast Asia. I too wish someone explained the art and architecture to us:)

      Looking forward to hearing about your travels but I have a feeling you might be traveling even before December.

    1. Malaysia is home and there are many fascinating places. Glad you enjoyed the pics Diana.

  6. Is your next post going to announce your new career as a travel blogger?:). I seriously enjoyed this. Thanks for taking us along. And greetings from Berlin:)

    1. haha, no travel blogging for me but I might be up for some spiritual blogging. Glad you enjoyed it:)

  7. Lovely photos! I too have always wondered who each of these Gods are.
    On our last trip back to Penang, we visited a truly amazing Kali temple. The most fascinating thing would you believe, was that it wasn’t a Hindu temple in the complete sense, they also had the Goddess of Mercy (Chinese tradition), a range of Buddhas, and also a number of other Hindu deities. And perhaps most amazing of all, while thousands of people (Hindus therefore mostly Indians) travelled long long distances to visit this temple, the mediums were Chinese, and in trance, they spoke Hindi (?).

    1. Hi Li-ling – glad you enjoyed the photos. That sounds extremely interesting. i’m going to spend some time in Penang next year and going to find out exactly which temple your’re talking about, get some photos and share on the blog. Thanks again for your visit and tip. So much richness in our traditions and culture.

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