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Nagore Durgha Shrine, Chulia Street, George Town, Penang

Nagore Durgha Sheriff at the junction between Chulia Street and King Street, George Town

Nagore Durgha Sheriff, at Chulia Street within George Town's UNESCO World Heritage Site, is the oldest Indian Muslim shrine on Penang Island. Built in the early 1800s, it is dedicated to Syed Shahul Hamid, a 13th. century Muslim saint of Nagore, India.

It is also one of the two Indian Muslim shrines built in the saint's memory in Southeast Asia, the other being the Nagore Durgha Shrine in Singapore. Within George Town, it is one of the few remaining specimens of early 19th. century South Indian Muslim architecture.

Located at the junction between Chulia Street and King Street, the shrine also contains a short arcade lined with shops selling jewellery, Muslim prayer paraphernalia and songkok (a ubiquitous Malay cap worn by males).

History

Nagore Durgha Shrine was built in 1803 by Muslims of southern Indian origin, then known as the Chuliers by the British. Soon after Captain Francis Light landed on Penang Island in 1786, the Chuliers, who were mostly merchants and moneylenders, began to populate Malabar Street in great numbers, causing the street to be renamed Chulia Street in 1798. The shrine was constructed on the original section of Chulia Street, before its gradual extension westwards.

The Muslim shrine, the oldest of its kind on Penang Island, honours Syed Shahul Hamid, a Sufi Muslim saint who lived in Nagore, India until his death in 1579. The Nagore Durgah in Nagore was built in his memory, as is the Nagore Durgha Shrine in Singapore, which was constructed later in the 1820s.

The white-coloured shrine has a built-in arcade along its King Street side, where shops selling Muslim prayer paraphernalia, jewellery and songkok are located. There used to be a well along the King Street side of the shrine as well.

Today, it is one of the few examples of southern Indian Muslim architecture in George Town and perhaps throughout Penang Island. It still serves as the centre of religious observance for the Indian Muslims of Tamil ethnicity; feast days are observed at the shrine with the distribution of food and flag raising.

Political Representation

Penang State Government

N.26 Padang Kota State Assemblyman : Chow Kon Yeow (Democratic Action Party)

Malaysian Federal Parliament

P.049 Tanjong Member of Parliament : Ng Wei Aik (Democratic Action Party)

References

  1. Hockton, K., Howard Tan, 2012. Penang : An Inside Guide to Its Historic Homes, Buildings, Monuments and Parks. MPH Group, Kuala Lumpur.
  2. Khoo S.N., 2007. Streets of George Town, Penang. Areca Books.
  3. http://www.penang-traveltips.com/nagore-shrine.htm

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