Places to Visit in Singapore: Nagore Durgha Shrine 

This shrine, in Telok Ayer Street, was completed in 1830 by Southern Indian Muslims, the land being granted on condition that it not be used for a wooden or attap building. It has a unique blend of Classical and Indian, Muslim motifs. 

The shrine’s architecture is an eclectic blend of classical Western motifs and Indian influences. The lower portion of the facade (hidden from view in the photos above) consists of a series of arches mounted on Western-style columns. The upper-portion of the facade, with its 14-story minarets and perforated walls, is much more in keeping with traditional south Indian design.

The shrine was closed since the 1990s due to its deteriorating condition. At the time the above photographs were taken, the shrine was in the midst of a renovation. It reopened in 2007 as an Indian Muslim heritage center.

Location: 140 Telok Ayer Street, Singapore 068604Getting there: Take the MRT to Raffles Place (EW14)

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The Nagore Durgha (or Nagore Dargah) is a shrine in Singapore that was built between 1828 and 1830 by Muslims from southern India. It was first called Shahul Hamid Dargah. When this shrine was first built, the street where it is now, Telok Ayer Street, was a sandy beach full of sailboats. Even though its surroundings have changed so much, the monument itself hasn’t changed much since the late 1800s, except for some restoration and preservation work done in 2007. It is a unique mix of Indian Muslim and Classical designs.


Nagore Durgha, late 1800s or early 1900s

Nagore Durgha was built to remember when a Muslim holy man of the Chulia people (Muslims from India’s Coromandel Coast) came to the island to spread the beliefs of Islam. The holy man was traveling around Southeast Asia spreading the word of Islam. In 1827, the land where the shrine is now stood was given to a man named Kaderpillai with the condition that it not be used to build anything out of wood and attap.

In 1893, the Nagore Durgha property was given to new owners who were also in charge of the Masjid Al-Abrar because of a court order. The sharp arches and elaborate moldings on the building make it look like a multi-tiered wedding cake. The building’s design is a mix of classical and Indian Muslim elements, like the perforated grilles on the roof. For example, the building has molded arches and columns, and the roof has perforated grilles. It was made a national monument in 1974.

In the 1990s, the shrine was closed because people were afraid the building would fall apart. Restoration work to turn the shrine into an Indian Muslim cultural center began in January 2007. It was supposed to be finished in the fourth quarter of the same year, at a cost of S$1.8 million. On December 3, 2006, President S. R. Nathan went to a fundraiser put on by Indian Muslims. At that time, the community had raised $200,000.

Here are five more things about the center you should know.

1. The Nagore Dargah Indian Muslim Heritage Centre is a place that has been around for over 180 years. The center is in the same place as the Nagore Dargah shrine, which was built by early settlers from South India between 1828 and 1830.

Early Indian-Muslim settlers often went to the place of worship to thank its saint Shahul Hameed, a South Indian holy man who helped spread Islam to India, for giving them safe passage to Singapore.

2. The Nagore Dargah is a two-story building made of white and peach limestone on Telok Ayer Street. It is a copy of a shrine in Tamil Nadu, India, where Shahul Hameed’s ashes are kept. The front of the center has the same style as other Indian-Muslim buildings in Singapore. It has a 14-tiered niche square minaret (which means beacon in Arabic) topped by an onion-shaped roof.

These include the Al Abrar Mosque on Telok Ayer Street and the Jamae Mosque on South Bridge Road.

3. In 1974, the shrine was named a national monument. It was fixed up for a year in 2013, which included fixing the paint on the walls that was coming off. The center re-opened to the public on November 30, 2017. The National Monuments Fund of the National Heritage Board gave it $47,700 to help pay for the repairs.

4. When the center opened in 2011, Halal food chain operator Banquet set up an eating area with one stall selling Indian Muslim foods like prata, murtabak, and briyani. At first, the idea of a commercial dining place made people uncomfortable, but the problem was fixed.

The group went to India to talk to the people in charge of the Nagore Dargah. They approved of the dining area because the building is a memorial to the saint and not where he was buried. But in 2012, it closed down.

5. The newest gallery, which opened on Tuesday, has storyboards and a multi-media display about the people who started the Indian-Muslim society.

But the center wants to add more things that people can do together, like displays with touch screens and QR codes.

The secretary of the Nagore Dargah Indian Muslim Heritage Centre, Naseer Ghani, said that this would help them reach out to younger people who are more tech-savvy. It is asking for money to do this from the government, including the National Heritage Board.

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What will the Dargah have?

Most of the time, they have a mosque, meeting rooms, Islamic religious schools (called madrassas), homes for a teacher or guardian, hospitals, and other buildings that serve the community.

Why is Nagore Dargah so well-known?

 The dargah has five minarets. The largest one was built by the Hindu Maratha ruler of Thanjavur, Pratap Singh (1739–1763 CE). The dargah is an important place of worship for both Muslims and Hindus. This shows that the two religions can live together in peace.

The Kanduri holiday (Urus Mubarak), which lasts for 14 days and marks the anniversary of Shahul Hamid’s death, is the most important event at Nagore Dargah. Most of the time, people pray at Nagore dargah by bringing gifts and playing instruments like the nadaswaram, which is typical of Hindu religious practice. The Shifa Gunta, a pool inside the grounds of the dargah, is considered holy, and visitors swim in it. The hereditary board of trustees is in charge of all of the dargah’s legal and religious tasks. The dargah is run and kept in good shape by an 11-person board of trustees, which works under a court-ordered plan set up by the Madras High Court.

How the Dargah came to be?

In the 1600s, Thanjavur’s king, Achutappa Nayak, gave 200 acres (81 ha) of land to Shahul’s group after the saint treated the king’s illness. Part of the land that Nayak gave was used to build the dargah. Shahul Hamid is thought to have known when he would die and told his adopted son Yusuf where to bury him and what to do after he died. Yusuf did what he was told and then chose to stay there for the rest of his life. Over the grave, a tomb was built. Shahul’s followers, who still believed in his powers after he died, prayed at the place where he was buried. At first, the shrine was tiny, but over time, it became more important. The Hindu Maratha ruler of Thanjavur, Pratap Singh (1739–1763), asked for a son. When he got one, he built the tallest of the five minarets, called Periya Manara, which is 131 feet (40 meters) tall.[1][11] In later times, the Marathas supported the dargah. The Maratha king Thuljaji, who was the son of Pratap Singh, gave the dargah 4,000 acres (1,600 ha) of farming land.During the last quarter of the 18th century, when European forces, the Nawab of Arcot, the Maratha kings, and Tipu Sultan of Mysore were all fighting over the Thanjavur region, the dargah was seen as a key strategic point.


The Nagore Dargah is made up of 5 acres (2.0 ha) of land that is surrounded by a wall. The main building has four doors on each side. People who love Shahul Hamid very much and are mostly Hindus are thought to have made the dargah. There are five minarets, and the biggest one stands 131 feet (40 meters) tall. It was built on the 195th anniversary of Shahul’s death.The tombs of Shahul, his son Yusuf, and his daughter-in-law Saeeda Sultana Biwi are above the main door on the west side of the dargah. This is where the gold-plated dome is.[16] The other four minarets are the 77-foot-tall (23-meter-tall) Sahib Minara, the 93.5-foot-tall (28.5-meter-tall) Thalaimattu Minara, the 93.25-foot-tall (28.42-meter-tall) Muthubaq Minara, and the 80-foot-tall (24-meter-tall) Ottu Minara. People honor the shoes of the saint, which are kept in the shrine, as a sign of respect. The tomb of the saint Shahul Hamid is in the middle of the dargah. Seven steps lead to the tomb.

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Activities close to Nagore Dargah

1. Nagore Beach Nagore

Nagore is a town in the Indian state of Tamil Nadu. It is in the Nagapattinam District. It is about 12 kilometers south of Karaikal and about 5 kilometers north of Nagapattinam. The towns of Tiruvarur and Mayiladuthurai are close by. It has about 45,000 people living there. The most famous thing to see is the Nagore Dargah, a place of worship for people of all religions. Nagore Dargah is an Islamic shrine that has been around for 500 years. It draws millions of visitors from all castes, creeds, and religions. In 1866 CE, Nagapattinam and Nagore were joined together to form a single town.

2. Danish Fort Tharangambadi

The Danish colonies in India, which were part of the Danish colonial power, were called “Danish India.” Denmark–Norway had colonial holdings in India for more than 200 years. These included the town of Tharangambadi in what is now Tamil Nadu state, the city of Serampore in what is now West Bengal, and the Nicobar Islands, which are now part of the Andaman and Nicobar Islands union territory in India. The presence of the Danes in India didn’t mean much to the big European powers because they didn’t pose a military or business threat.

3. The Vaitheeswaran Kovil Mars Shrine Nagapattinam

Vaitheeswaran Kovil, also called Pullirukkuvelur, is a Hindu temple in the Indian state of Tamil Nadu. It is a shrine to Lord Shiva. Shiva is worshiped as Vaidyanathar or Vaitheeswaran, which means “God of Healing.” It is thought that prayers to Vaitheeswaran can cure sicknesses. The Tamil word for Vaitheeswaran comes from the words vaidya and Ishvara. Sri vaidyanathan is the god in charge. He is the one who heals. When saying in Tamil, it sounds like vaideeswaran. It is one of the nine Navagraha shrines, and the planet Mars is connected to it.

4. Karaikal Beach Karaikal

Karaikal is an important port town on India’s east coast and a municipality in the Karaikal district of India’s Union Territory of Puducherry. This is where Karaikal Ammaiyar was born.In 1674, the French government bought Karaikal. The British and Dutch sometimes took control, but the French stayed in charge until 1954, when it was added to the Indian Union along with the rest of French India.

5. Saniswaran Temple

 Karaikal Tirunallar Saniswaran Temple, also called Dharbaranyeswarar Temple, is a Hindu temple in Tirunallar in the Karaikal district of Pondicherry, India. It is dedicated to Lord Shani. Lord Siva, also known as Dharbaranyeswar, is the main god, and the place where Tirunallar is now was once called Dharbaranyam. The songs of Tamil Saivite poets Appar, Sundarar, and Sambandhar from the 7th century praise the temple. It is known as Paadal Petra Sthalam.

What you’ll go through

Join this 4-hour walking tour that will take you to some of Singapore’s most interesting historical and cultural places. With the help of a professional local guide, you will go straight to Yueh Hai Ching Temple, a Chinese temple from the late 19th century. After that, you can learn more about the past of Singapore’s Indian-Muslim community at the Nagore Dargah Indian Muslim Heritage Centre.

The tour will also take you to the Musical Box Museum and Thian Hock Keng, which is one of the oldest Hokkien churches in the country. Here you can see a collection of music boxes from Germany, Switzerland, and even the United States that are hundreds of years old. Each one has its own amazing technology and craftsmanship. Before the end of your trip, you’ll also get to eat a delicious lunch at Museum Cafe!

One more

Nagore is a town in the Indian state of Tamil Nadu. It is in the Nagapattinam District. It is about 12 kilometers south of Karaikal and about 5 kilometers north of Nagapattinam. The towns of Tiruvarur and Mayiladuthurai are close by. It has about 45,000 people living there. The most famous thing to see is the Nagore Dargah, a place of worship for people of all religions. Nagore Dargah is an Islamic shrine that has been around for 500 years. It draws millions of visitors from all castes, creeds, and religions. In 1866 CE, Nagapattinam and Nagore were joined together as a single city.

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