In the city of Johor Bahru, close to Malaysia’s southern border with Singapore, lies one of the world’s most amazing pieces of architecture – a Hindu Temple covered almost entirely with glass. It’s called the Arulmigu Sri Rajakaliamman temple, and it’s one of the must see attractions of Malaysia.
Arulmigu Sri Rajakaliamman is one of the oldest temples in the state of Johor. It started out as a small shelter, built in 1922, and grew steadily over the years, but its true expansion started in 1991, when the current chief priest, Sri Sinnathamby Sivasamy, inherited the administration of the temple from his father. He became the driving force of this once humble hut, and committed himself to turning it into a beautiful Hindu place of worship. Despite facing many challenges, Sivasamy managed to expand and completely rebuild the temple in just five years, and in 1996 it was reopened to the public. Arulmigu Sri Rajakaliamman had already transformed into an impressive display of Malaysian architecture, but it would soon become a truly unique Hindu sanctuary, unlike any other.
Guru Sri Sinnathamby Sivasamy was traveling to Bangkok in a Thai rickshaw when he got the idea of turning the Arulmigu Sri Rajakaliamman temple into a shining marvel. While he was gazing at the surroundings, his attention was suddenly captured by a shimmering light in the distance. Curious about its source, the Hindu priest decided to follow the light and eventually discovered it was actually a glass artwork placed at the entrance of a temple. That’s when he decided he was going to use the same material to make his temple shine in the sunlight. Between 2008 and 2009, Arulmigu Sri Rajakaliamman was almost entirely covered with colorful pieces of glass both on the inside and on the outside. While there are a few other temples partially decorated with glass, at least 90% of this particular one is decorated with a beautiful-yet-fragile glass mosaics.
The unique temple is embellished with 300,000 pieces of red, blue, yellow, green, purple and white glass, including its floors, pillars and walls. There are large crystal chandeliers hanging from the ceiling and their light reflected on the glass surroundings can be quite blinding at first, but once your eyes get used to it, you’ll end up admiring the surreal effect. Apparently, the renovation process of Arulmigu Sri Rajakaliamman temple cost 3 million ringgits (around $1 million), funds raised from donations and community programs. The glass sanctuary is fully air-conditioned and can accommodate 1,500 devotees.
Although it still operates primarily as a religious temple, Arulmigu Sri Rajakaliamman also allows tourists, but it’s best checking opening times before visiting.