Named after the 'courageous mother Kali', the Sri Veeramakaliamman Temple located in the middle of Little India is dedicated to the Hindu goddess Kali. Built in 1881, the Sri Veeramakaliamman Temple is Singapore's oldest temple built in homage to goddess Kali who destroys evil and protects her devotees. As such there is a stark contrast between the two images of Kali present in the Sri Veeramakaliamman Temple. In the main area, a fierce statue of the goddess with skulls around her neck can be seen, yet other more serene images of her nurturing her family can be seen elsewhere in the temple.
Although it was built by Bengalis, the architecture Sri Veeramakaliamman Temple follows the South Indian Tamil style.
What began as a small Hindu shrine expanded over the years with the increase in Indian immigrants arriving on Singapore's shores. It is in the Tamil Hindu's general belief that praying to goddess Kali was a crucial protective measure they had to do when entering a foreign land. In 1908, a statue of Kali was being imported from South India to grace the wooden temple. Her sons Lord Murugan and Lord Ganesha were only added later along with a chariot. Soon the temple was also the centre of early Indian sociocultural activities in the area.
Colloquially known as Soonambu Kambam Kovil, or lime village temple in the early days, the temple was known for its many devotees who worked at the limestone kilns in that area. The Gopuram or the tower over the entrance consisting of statues of various Hindu deities was mounted so that Hindus could say their prayers from a distance.
1987 saw new renovation works and extensions paved the way for a new era for the religious site and costing a grand total of $2.2 million to complete the renovation project. In the midst of the reconstruction, workmen discovered ancient pieces of statues which may have dated back to the 19th century. These were the locally made figurines, as the later ones were imported from India.
Today the temple not only caters for the Hindus in Singapore but it has also become the meeting place of Hindu tourists from India and workers from Tamil Nadu.