Though possessed of a considerable population of citizens who describe themselves as nonreligious, Singapore is predominantly Buddhist, with sizable percentages of Taoists and Hindus as well. The following five temples are a good place to start for tourists looking to sample a smattering of each.
1. Sri Veeramakaliamman. Dedicated to Kali and the brutal consort of the Hindu god Shiva, this brilliantly decorated, colorful temple in Little India features a likeness of Kali adorned in skulls, simultaneously disemboweling her unlucky victims and communing peacefully with her sons. The temple is open daily 8 a.m.-noon, and 4 p.m. – 8:30 p.m.
2. Siong Lim. Built in 1917 and dedicated to the Goddess of Mercy, this beautiful Taoist temple was constructed using the traditional method of joinery, with intricately carved beams covering a large sculpture of a smiling Buddha. Open daily 6 a.m. – 6 p.m.
3. Sri Srinivasa Perumal. Noteworthy for being the famous starting point for the parade to the Chettiar Hindu Temple during the Thaipusam festival, this temple dates back to 1855 and is dedicated to Vishnu. Open daily 5:45 a.m. – noon, and 5 p.m. – 9 p.m.
4. Kuan Im Thong Hood Cho. Still another temple dedicated to the Goddess of Mercy, this elaborately decorated structure is located in the vibrant Waterloo Distract (a must see for visitors interested in the impact of the Chinese on the city). Open daily 8 a.m. – 2 p.m.
5. Loyang Tua Pek Kong. This extraordinary temple complex houses shrines dedicated to Hinduism, Buddhism and Taoism, all under one roof, as well as a shrine devoted to Datuk Kung, a saint of Malay mysticism. Contact the temple for hours of operation.