Timothy Tye
Sri Ramar Temple, Dhoby Ghaut

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Sri Ramar TempleSri Ramar Temple (9 June, 2007)

The Sri Ramar Temple (GPS: 5.41307, 100.30895) at Dhoby Ghaut is one of the earliest temples to be built it Penang. One of the endowment properties of the Penang Hindu Endowments Board, it is located off York Close. Although it is not known exactly when the temple was first built, according to available documents, it must have existed before 1872. This is confirmed by the existence of a will dated 12 July, 1872 that mentioned the temple.

According to the will, the land on which Sri Ramar Temple stands was donated by an Indian woman by the name of Ranee Dhoby. Ranee Dhoby is of course a title rather than a proper name; it translates as "Dhoby Queen" in respect of her position over the laundrymen.

A shrine at Sri Ramar TempleA shrine at Sri Ramar Temple (9 June, 2007)

Ranee Dhoby was the matriach of the dhoby community that settled along the banks of the Ayer Itam River as early as the turn of the 19th century. A land grant dated 2 May, 1802, stated that she was given a piece of land by the order of Sir George Leith (for whom Leith Street was named), the Governor of Prince of Wales Island, by virtue of the authority of the Governor General of Bengal.

Somewhere between 1808 and 1811, Ranee Dhoby is said to have sold off a section of the Sungai Air Itam riverbank to William Edward Phillips, so that he can have access to the estate of Francis Light which he acquired from James Scott. Phillips then built on the foundation of Light's plantation the mansion that is now known as Suffolk House. Before she died, Ranee Dhoby created a trust for the temple building, to be known as the Ranee Dhoby Kovil.

Sri Ramar Temple was renovated in 1982, and images of deities such as Rama, Sita, Hanuman and Ganesh were installed. There is also a memorial to Ranee on the walls of the present temple. The inner sanctum follows the original octagonal design.

Sri Ramar Temple is a Vaishnavite temple, that is to say, a Hindu temple where Vishnu and his associated avatars or incarnation are worshipped as the supreme deity. This is one of the two Vaishnavite temples in Penang, the other being the Sri Kunj Bihari Temple.

In 2005, a multi-purpose hall was completed at the Sri Ramar Temple. Known as Kalyana Mandabam, it was officiated by Dato Dr. K. Rajapathy, the chairman of the Penang Hindu Endowment Board management committee on 18 May of the same year.

Sri Ramar Temple, Dhoby Ghaut, PenangSri Ramar Temple, Dhoby Ghaut, Penang (9 June, 2007)

Sri Ramar TempleThe gopuram, temple tower, of the Sri Ramar Temple features Hanuman and various Hindu deities (9 June, 2007)

Kalyana Mandabam, at Sri Ramar TempleKalyana Mandabam, at Sri Ramar Temple (9 June, 2007)

Entrance to Sri Ramar Temple from Jalan Air ItamEntrance to Sri Ramar Temple from Jalan Air Itam (28 February, 2013)

Getting there

The Sri Rama temple is best approached from York Close (Solok York) although there is a small alley from Jalan Air Itam. If coming by bus, take Rapid Penang bus 101, 201, 202, 203, 204 or 502 from the Weld Quay Ferry & Bus Terminal and ask the driver to drop you immediately after the junction of York Road (Jalan York).

Sri Ramar Temple is on the map of Jalan Air Itam

List of Hindu Temples in Penang and Hindu Temples in Malaysia

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