ABLEWIKI:Mariammen Temple (7th Street)
This temple is the oldest of all Hindu temples in Pretoria. Its ornate tower, Gorpuram, is a type of tower which is not commonly found in the hindu Temples of Pretoria. It is one of the few buildings in the area which has witnessed the cultural growth, development and change of Marabastad from the 20th century and onwards. This temple signifies the importance of the Indian community which became integrated into areas of Marabastad, forming what is known today as Asiatic Bazaar. The Temple is named after the Hindu Goddess Mariamman who protects the Hindu people from infectious diseases.
Current known heritage status
Mariamman Temple was declared a National Monument on 10th September 1982 under the old NMC legislation and it is a Grade II Provincial Heritage Resource and protected under the National Heritage Resources Act (25 of 1999).
Possible interested and affected parties
- Tamil Society of Pretoria.
- City of Tshwane Department of Sport, Recreation Arts and Culture.
- Pretoria Institute for Architecture.
- Tshwane Building Heritage Association.
- Department of Architecture, University of Pretoria.
Marabastad is an area situated within Pretoria Central. Currently the cultural and social dynamics of the area are quite the opposite to the racially integrated community it once was. The origins of this area date back to the 18th century when Maraba a Ndebele Chief and his people moved to the perimetres of the Apies River. Overtime an Indian community integrated into areas of the residential township. The Indian area of Marabastad adopted the name Asiatic Bazaar. Integration of other communities soon followed such as refugees from the Anglo-Boer war, a coloured community as well as Muslims and Chinese communities. When the Apartheid prevailed in 1970, the multi-racial community could no longer co-exist and the unique fusion of culture which Marabastad was known for disappeared.
The Maraimman Temple lies at the entrance of Marabastad. It is quite surprising that the temple is in such good condition when considering how dillapidated its surrounding context is.
Description of site and/or structures and/or interior spaces
The Mariamman Temple is known for its ornate Gorpuram, however this was not the original Temple structure. A small wood and iron structure housed a shrine for Hindu deities until 1927 when G. Krishnan and P. Govender replaced the structure with a small cella and assembly hall. Krishnan and Govender only constructed the Gorpuram after this.
The Gorpuram is typically of Dravidian style: It is a pyramid shape which has been created with the layering of horizontal tiers. The Pyramid structure takes on the form of a stepped design in order for statuettes of deities to be displayed on the exterior fascade of the Temple. Statuettes of deities such as Parvati, Shiva and Ganesha are accompanied by decorative relief. Concrete precast elements were used to create the relief. The tower houses two inner chambers which can be accessed via heavy timber doors.