The history of Sri Srinivasa Perumal temple dates back to the late 1800s when influential community leaders like Mr Arunachala Pillay, Mr Cootaperumal Pillay, Mr Ramasamy Pillay, Mr Appasamy Pillay, Mr Chockalingam Pillay and Mr Ramasamy Jamidar, all of whom had close working links with the East India Company, wanted to build a Hindu temple for Vaishnavite worship.
These men got together and purchased a piece of land measuring 2 acres 2 woods and 24 poles from the East India Company in 1851 for 26 rupees and 8 annas (at that period of time Indian currency was still used in the Settlement of Singapore). The temple they built in 1885 was referred to as the Narasinga Perumal Kovil.
Following the construction of the original temple structure, 2 adjoining parcels of land were later obtained for the temple’s needs. In 1894, devotees Mr Moona Sithumbaram Pillay and Mr Vinasithamby Murugesu purchased a 25,792 square feet piece of land which they donated to the temple. The second piece of adjoining land measuring 3,422 square feet was obtained by the Mohammedan Hindu Endowments Board, MHEB (under whose administration the temple was from 1907) from the East India Company on 15th August 1912 on a 999 year lease at an annual fee of 1 Straits Settlement dollar.
The original temple structure remained unchanged until the early 1950s. In 1952, the MHEB decided to rebuild and reinstate the Temple. Redevelopment was only carried out in the early 1960s when well known Indian community leader and philanthropist Mr P. Govindasamy Pillay financed much of the works. Mr Pillay is credited with building the first two storey marriage hall within the temple. It was officially opened by Enche Yusoff Bin Ishak, the first president of Singapore on 19th June 1965.
The present building minus the Pillaiyar sanctum, Rajagopuram (grand tower entrance) and the covered walkway were completed in 1966. At this juncture, many elders advised that the main deity of the temple be changed from the imposing Sri Narasimha to the gracious Sri Srinivasa Perumal. The temple was thus renamed Sri Srinivasa Perumal Temple.
Although financial constraints had prevented the addition of a Rajagopuram to the façade of the temple in the early days, in 1979, Rajagopuram was erected. All costs for the entire construction and renovation works in the 1970s redevelopment phase were generously borne by Mr P Govindasamy Pillay.
In 1978, Sri Srinivasa Perumal Temple was declared a National Monument by the Preservation of Monuments Board.
The temple underwent major facelifts in 1987, 1992 and 2005. During the different phases of redevelopment, improvements were made to the façade and facilities to meet imperative devotee needs. Visitors to the temple today can witness the painstaking efforts undertaken by the temple’s successive management committees to ensure that its conservation status was maintained. From well laid out sanctums, rich sculptural embellishments to an ornate mandapam (pillared pavillion) built for the worship of processional deities, these and many more new features make the temple an embodiment of Hinduism.
Some of the major festivals celebrated here are Brahmotsavam, Vaikunda Ekathesi and Purattasi Sani.