The Sri Vadapathira Kaliamman Temple was established around 1870 by the Hindus living in the neighbourhood of the temple and in Potong Pasir. This temple to the goddess Kali, the “Destroyer of Evil,” started in a small hut under the leadership of a few Chettiars. By 1935, a small shed was erected to replace the old tiled roof structure.
In 1969, an architectural firm from India, Neysadurai and Associates, redesigned the temple. Two sculptors and two artists from South India were commissioned to work on its motifs. Although the kumbabhishekam (“consecration ceremony” in Tamil, deriving from Sanskrit) of the temple was performed on January 1974, the three archway gopura (“entrance towers” in Tamil, deriving from Sanskrit) and the decoration of the mandapam (“main hall” in Tamil, deriving from Sanskrit) were completed later.
The mandapam holds the main shrine to Kali and on either side are two smaller shrines dedicated to the deities Vinayagar (Ganesha) and Murugan, both sons of Shiva. Vinayagar is the “elephant god” and a remover of obstacles. Murugan’s name means “the beautiful one” and he is considered the patron of the present era. To the left of the mandapam is an arcade with several other statues, such as that of Periyachi, the protector of children and mothers.
One of the interesting features of the conserved temple building is its elaborate vimana (stepped pyramid-shape tower over main shrine found in South Indian temples) adorned with deities. The tower is visible from a distance and allows devotees to pray even without entering the temple.