Sri Vadapathira Kaliamman Temple in Singapore


Sri Vadapathira Kaliamman Temple was founded as a small shrine by Tamil Hindu residents of Potong Pasir . They wanted the protection of Mother Goddess and sustain their cultural heritage. It was developed under B. Govindasamy Chettiar, pioneer labour contractor to the port of Singapore, philanthropist and Indian community leader. Vadapathira kaliamman is the same deity as Sri Mariamman , Veerama kaliamman refers to an attribute of the Mother Goddess. Vadapathira kaliamman means the pure as fire protective Motherly spirit from the North

Sri Vadapathira Kaliamman Temple continues to draw many Hindu devotees everyday to worship and pay respects to the gods. A portion of the Sri Vadapathira Kaliamman Temple has also been segregated for worship of the Shirdi Sai Baba, and many Sai Baba devotees also come to this temple to pray. During Deepavali, the temple is exceptionally busy and bustling with life. If you visit Singapore during the Deepavali season, be sure to pay the Sri Vadapathira Kaliamman Temple a visit.


History of temple

In the early 20th century the Tamil Hindus of Potong Pasir under the leadership of Rengasamy Murier, Murugaiyan, Samiappan and Vairappan Thevar built a small but as a Temple in Upper Serangoon Raod and tater it was handed to B. Govindasamy Chettiar, the pioneer labour contractor to the Port of Singapore to manage the Temple. He developed it and later it was his nephew and son-in-law S.L. Perumal who at his own expense built the present Temple. B. Govindasamy Chettiar came to Singapore from South India (Madras) at the age of 16 in 1905. He initially partnered with Mohammed Yusof and later solely managed the Indian Labour Company and supplied the stevedores, lightermen, wharf workers, lascars and dockyard workers to the Harbour Board. Govdindasamy Chettiar employed 3,500 Indian workers and had also Chinese gangs working for him in the port. He recruited the labourers from India and they were paid as daily-rated men.

The offices of Govindasamy Chettiar were where the present Gate 2, opposite the old Customs Buildings in Keppel Road is located. Adjoining the offices were the quarters for some of his staff. There was also a large kitchen which never stopped functioning as free meals were supplied day and night. Free meals were served to all those who worked in the port as well as those who lived outside it. All were fed and none was turned off. The common saying was ‘if you want a free meal go to Govindasamy Chettiar’s ‘kottai’ (shed).

Govindasamy Chettiar donated freely to charities and Temple funds. He helped to complete the renovations of the Sri Mariamman Temple and served as trustee of this Temple for many years. If anybody came to him for any assistance, financial or otherwise he never refused them. His philosophy was: ‘Oh, I am getting the men to work for me; their sweat is our money and therefore they deserve financial aid when they ask for it’.

Govindasamy Chetitiar continued to work during the Japanese Occupation when the Syonan Koun Kaisah ran the port.  In 1948 the Singapore Harbour Board decided to discontinue the system of contract labour to the port and all the labourers were employed by the Board. This broke the heart of Govindasamy Chettiar.


After a short illness he died on 6 April 1948 at the age of 59. Hundreds of all races attended his funeral – the funeral of an Indian community leader who was charitable to all races and an understanding and kind employer.

Before his death he requested his nephew and son-in-law the late S.L. Perumal to build a new main tower the ‘Rajakopuram’ and other additions to the Vadapathirakaliamman Temple.S.L. Perumal agreed and kept his word. When Hindu devotees worship here they feel the sanctity of this house of worship – which was started by Hindu devotees from Potong Pasir to sustain their cultural heritage.

Location of Temple

Sri Vadapathira Kaliamman Temple is located at 555 SERANGOON ROAD SINGAPORE 218174

Phone : 6298 5053