101-year-old Hindu temple given five days to vacate

Temple chairman R.A Balasubramaniam (far left), temple secretary Nalini Rani (third from right), temple committees and devotees standing outside the 101-year old Sri Muneswarar Kaliyaman Hindu temple in Jalan P Ramlee off Jalan Tengah which has been served DBKL notice to vacate.

The 101-year old Sri Muneswarar Kaliyaman Hindu temple located at Jalan P Ramlee, off Jalan Tengah in Kuala Lumpur’s Golden Triangle business district faces the threat of demolition as it has received notice issued by Kuala Lumpur City Hall (DBKL) requesting the temple owner to demolish, within five days from date of notice, the structure sitting on DBKL reserve land.

It has reached an impasse as neither side would compromise.

The temple owners said they are staying put despite the notice as they wanted the temple to be saved for its heritage.

“This temple is a historical building. It is more than 100 years old with historical value and we want to stay.

We are against the demolition,” said temple chairman R.A Balasubramaniam, 47.

The DBKL notice dated July 16 was received by the temple on the same day and the five day notice given to vacate means it will expires on July 20.

The century-old temple occupying 5,199 sq feet of DBKL reserve land was set up in 1911 by the great grandfather of current owners who are the fourth generation children of the founder.

The 30-storey high office tower under construction behind the temple which is under threat of demolition.

“Our temple has been here on this same spot for 101 years, even before DBKL existed (DBKL was set up in 1971) and long before any of the surrounding buildings were up.

We conducted our prayers with peace and harmony and do not face any problem from local authorities or anybody.

A big building is being built beside us and now we are told to pack and leave to make way for the building project,” added R.A Balasubramaniam.

The 30-storey high office tower right behind the temple currently under construction requires 2,020 square feet of the temple’s DBKL land to build an 8-feet wide walkway end-to-end in order to comply with City Hall’s requirement.

“This is a government land. Why must they (the developer) take the land from the government?” he asked.

Protest banners hung outside the temple.

Several meetings had been held earlier to resolve the issue including one where the developer had offered to relocate the temple to a piece of land in Sepang.

“Our forefathers set up this temple here since Day 1 in 1911 and we have the rights to stay here,” said temple secretary Nalini Rani.

The latest meeting held on July 17, between DBKL officials, Hap Seng Land officials (the developer), Federal Territories and Urban Wellbeing deputy minister Datuk M.Saravanan, lawyers representing both parties and temple chairman and secretary remain locked in stalemate despite long discussions.

Balasubramaniam said: “At that meeting, they claimed they have a court order to vacate the place and asked us to ‘surrender’ the 2,020 square feet of the ‘temple’ land to resolve it.

If we do not, they will implement the court order once the notice expires. We told them, look, you withdraw the court order first then you give us a copy of the court order before we can revert to you after meeting our 30-man temple members.”

The temple has about 300 devotees and houses the two main deities Muneswarar and Kaliyaman, hence the temple’s name.

Other resident deities in the temple are Siva, Murugan, Ganesha (elephant-headed deity), Saraswati (Goddess of Learning), Lakshmi (Goddess of wealth and prosperity) and Buddha.

The Chitirai Pourami festival of this temple are celebrated with much religious fervour.

Temple secretary Nalini Rani showing the tree said to be more than 100 years old.

Nalini Rani said: “It would be good if they can incorporate the temple in the building project just like what the developer there did for a temple in the Mid-Valley development project instead of asking us to relocate.

“We have applied for a land title early this year and are awaiting the outcome. We will not move as the temple has historical value and is a heritage which should be saved and preserved at all cost for future generations. If we are forced to, we will go on a hunger strike to draw attention to save the temple.”

A long-time devotee Revathry, 39, who works in the office building nearby said she has been going to the temple for 15 years to pray to Mother Goddess Kaliyaman who has always answered her prayers.

She is against the demolition of the temple to make way for the new building project saying that it receives many devotees from nearby offices who come for their spiritual needs.

She said that about three years ago, a thunderstorm uprooted a big tree near the temple.

It felled on the side of the road. Devotees believed the tree did not fall on the side of the temple owing to the powerful presence of these Gods.

The Mother Goddess Kaliyaman is very powerful and devotees have personally experienced it.

A caretaker at the temple claimed that many years ago, construction workers encountered numerous problems during the construction of the former MUI Plaza (now Menara Hap Seng) and this frustrated the developer and affected schedule.

Someone informed the developer about this temple nearby and an official came to offer lime to the Goddess and after that it was reported that construction work went on smoothly without any hindrance until the building was completed on schedule.

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