Initially, the British authorities allotted land for a Hindu temple along Telok Ayer Street. This street ran alongside Telok Ayer Bay, where most early Asian immigrants first landed in Singapore, and where they went to pray and give thanks for a safe sea journey. The Thian Hock Keng and Nagore Durgha Shrine, respectively Singapore's earliest Chinese and Indian Muslim places of worship, are located there. However, Telok Ayer Street lacked a convenient source of fresh water which was needed for Hindu temple rituals.
The British Resident of Singapore, William Farquhar, then let Naraina Pillai occupy a site near Stamford Canal in 1821. Once again, the site proved unsuitable, this time due to the 1822 Jackson Plan which reserved the Stamford Canal area for other uses. However, the plan designated an alternative site next to the existing temple – marked as "Kling Chapel" ("Kling" was an old name for Indians in Singapore and Malaysia, and is now considered derogatory). This site was near the area earmarked for the Indian community.
In 1823, the current South Bridge Road site was finally granted to Pillai for the purposes of erecting a Hindu temple. The side streets flanking the temple were later renamed in reference to the temple and its prominent tower – Pagoda Street and Temple Street. Informally, Chinatown residents referred to Pagoda Street in Chinese as "back of the Indian place of worship."
Read more about this topic: Sri Mariamman Temple, Singapore
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