The colourful quarter of Brickfields, or Little India, contains one of KL’s premiere performing arts venues that specialises solely in the Indian styles. Founded by His Holiness Swami Shantanand Saraswathi in 1981, the Temple of Fine Arts was established to help Malaysian youth rediscover the cultural, artistic and spiritual wealth of their forefathers while making it relevant for future generations.
Central to this holistic development are music and dance, two disciplines that feature heavily on the temple’s performance agenda. Students are taught a range of styles including bharatanatyam, folk dances, semi-classical movements and musical instruments such as the mrdangam, veena, flute and harmonium. Teachers here are trained in understanding and drawing creativity and inspiration so students receive well-rounded instruction.
Heart of the Temple
Facing the 100 year old Buddhist Mahavihara, the Temple houses dance studios, music rooms, a spacious rehearsal hall, a library and the 500 seat Shantanand Auditorium. The expansive space has been built to the highest audio specifications with acoustics that deliver an evenly dispersed sound with no ‘dead or live’ spots. The result is a complete musical presence throughout the entire hall that immerses audiences during a performance.
Also on the ground floor is the popular Annalakshmi restaurant which serves a delicious selection of southern and northern Indian fare. Adjacent is The Lavanya Arts shop which sells exquisite Indian artwork and next to it is Hamsa Vahini Travel & Tours will help you organise a holiday down to the smallest detail.
The Temple has hosted a great variety of performances in its history, with celebrities from around the world arriving to perform on its stages. Past concerts of note have included The Pipes of Auspiciousness starring the Kasim-Babu Brothers who stand as the world’s finest nadhaswaram (a double reed wind instrument) artistes and disciples of Maestro Dr Sheik Chinna Moulana.
Gifted Carnatic singe, Os Arun also graced the Shantanand Auditorium, his sonorous voice filling the space with warmth, singing songs from the Carnatic repertoire and bhajans.
Shakespeare has also been featured in the Temple with comedy The Taming of the Shrew or Chalo Shaadi Karenge. Characters appeared in brilliantly colourful costumes and danced to heady Bollywood numbers in what was undoubtedly one of the most unique takes of the Bard’s work KL has ever seen.
The Shantanand Festival of Arts has featured famous Malaysian and international artistes in both classical and contemporary formats. The highly successful event has included workshops, lecture-demonstrations and more to illustrate how colourful and diverse the arts are.
A Lasting Legacy
The Temple has grown by leaps and bounds since its inception two decades ago and now counts branches in America, Singapore, Australia and India. Each centre holds the principle of using the arts as a vehicle for creative and spiritual discovery as well as a source of artistic research in each respective community.
Having blessed Malaysia with its performing arts for more than three decades, the Temple has actively contributed to the nation’s multicultural heritage in many ways. The building has been designated as an integral part of the Kuala Lumpur Cultural Heritage Route and a must see for anyone that decides to explore Brickfields. Its close proximity to KL Sentral makes it highly accessible, located only a 15 minute walk from the transportation hub.
While the temple’s schedule is quiet at the moment, do make it a point to catch a performance at the Shantanand Auditorium when activity picks up again.
The Temple of Fine Arts
Where 114 – 116, Jalan Berhala, Brickfields, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
Tel 03 2274 3709