The colourful quarter of Brickfields, or Little India, contains one of KL’s premiere performing arts venues specialising solely in 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 themselves and for future generations. Essential to this holistic development are music and dance, two disciplines the Temple specialises in and that feature heavily on the 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 out the true source of 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 and no ‘dead or live’ spots. The result is a complete musical presence throughout the entire hall that works to immerse audiences and suspend belief during a performance.
Also on the ground floor is the charming Annalakshmi Restaurant which serves a lip-smacking 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 illustrious history, with celebrities from around the world coming to perform on its stages. Most recently The Pipes of Auspiciousness took place, which starred the Kasim-Babu Brothers who stand as the world’s finest nadhaswaram (a double reed wind instrument) artistes and disciples of Dr Sheik Chinna Moulana.
Hot on the heels of this came a solo concert by gifted Carnatic singer, Os Arun. His sonorous voice permeated the Shantanand Auditorium, filling the space with an inimitable warmth, singing songs from the Carnatic repertoire and bhajans. Shakespeare has also graced 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 the most unique take of the Bard’s work ever in KL. The Shantanand Festival of Arts in December featured a raft of famous Malaysian and international artistes in both classical and contemporary formats.
The highly successful event which also included workshops and lecture demonstrations was a hodgepodge of music, dance and drama that illustrated how colourful and diverse the arts truly can be.
A Lasting Legacy
The Temple has grown by leaps and bounds since its foundation two decades ago and has expanded to America, Singapore, Australia and India among others.
Each centre carries the abiding principle of using the arts as a vehicle for creative and spiritual discovery as well as a significant and worthy source of artistic research in each of the respective communities. Having blessed Malaysia with its performing arts for more than three decades, the Temple has actively contributed to its multicultural heritage in more ways than one.
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.
Do make it a point to catch a performance at the Shantanand Auditorium as this hall carries a unique immersive atmosphere hard to match in other venues.
The Temple of Fine Arts
WHERE 114-116, Jalan Berhala, Brickfields
TEL 03 2274 3709