As an ethnically diverse metropolis, Kuala Lumpur is blessed with an astonishing array of places of worship. The Malay majority population of the city are Muslim by definition, meaning that there are huge elaborately-decorated mosques around the city which heave with thousands of devotees come Friday prayer time.
But the huge waves of immigration Malaysia experienced over the centuries from China and the subcontinent means that Taoist, Buddhist and Hindu temples are also well represented with a few Christian churches as well.
Sin Sze Sin-Ya Temple
As the oldest temple in Kuala Lumpur, this has been a popular attraction for visitors to the capital for a very long time. With elaborately carved beams, altars, pillars plus photographs and paintings of religious ceremonies and scenes, this Kuala Lumpur temple is a veritable treasure trove of artworks and antiquities.
Sri Mahamariamman Temple
This 1873-constructed is the most revered of all the Hindu temples in KL and the focal point for religious devotions of the city’s Indian community. A national heritage site, the striking five-level tower (gopuram) is the main attraction for tourists but the adoringing sculptures of gods are especially impressive. The glistening silver chariot used to be used during the annual Thaipusam festival to transport a statue of the Hindu deity all the way to the sacred Batu Caves.
Kuan Ti Temple
A Taoist temple in Chinatown which also goes by Kwong Siew and Guan Ti Temples. It was built in praise of Kuan Ti who is the Chinese god of war and writing. There are a pair of fearsome-looking stone lions at the gateway, making a great picture opportunity. And in pride of place at the centre of the main chamber is a state of Kuan Ti himself.
Chan See Shu Yuen Temple
The symmetrical pavilions, carefully embellished roofs and courtyards of this 100-year-old temple in Kuala Lumpur is typical of the Oriental style. Myths and legend of Chinese history are depicted on the ornate carvings of the roof plus models of warriors doing battle against strange creatures fill the inner sanctum.
Hindu Valluvar Kottam (Batu Cave Museum)
This Hindu art gallery secreted within the Batu Caves displays works of the revered Tamil poet Valluvar. Living around two thousand years ago, Valluvar was respected as a pious man who served his king faithfully. The 1,330 pithy couplets on show contain sage advice, much of which is still applicable to modern life. Unfortunately, the inscriptions are not translated so it is more rewarding to enlist the help of a Tamil speaker to help decipher the texts.
Sri Maha Sakthi Mohambigai Amman Temple
This century-old place of worship in KL is dominated by the neighbouring shopping mall, but its two giant guardian statues (bhootangals) are well worth visiting. A Bodhi tree complete with meditating Buddha statue underneath is quite a charming feature plus there are some striking sculptures of Chinese and Hindu gods.
Thean Hou Temple
Amongst the largest Southeast Asian Chinese temples, Thean Hou is one of the most unique places of worship in Kuala Lumpur. The temple, constructed in 1989, is adorned with intricate beams, a domed ceiling, spectacular roofs, calligraphic couplets, elaborate embellishments and murals depicting the elegance of traditional Chinese architecture. There is also a wishing well, restaurant and cafe offering cheap eats plus a souvenir stall has a few trinkets. (
This mosque built in Moorish-style rests precisely where the Gombak and Klang Rivers merge, the spot which is the true translation of ‘Kuala Lumpur’. Built in 1908 according to the designs Arthur Benison Hubbock, this is the oldest and most revered of all the mosques in KL. Visitors are very welcome but should dress conservatively and remove their shoes before entering. (website: www.masjidjamekkl.com).
Masjid Negara (The National Mosque)
Fans of this contemporary Kuala Lumpur mosque speak highly of the way its design expresses traditional Islamic art with a modern edge.
The Grand Mosque of Mecca acts as inspiration for the building and it similarly has 48 small domes and one large dome resembling a semi-opened umbrella. The roof symbolises the 13 Malaysian states and five pillars of Islam plus there is a 73m high minaret to call worshippers to prayer.
And the 30 acres of picturesque gardens surrounding this Kuala Lumpur mosque are amongst the largest in the whole of Asia. Situated directly opposite the grand old Kuala Lumpur Railway Station, this 1965-built structure cost a staggering RM10million to construct.