The Silver Chariot

The 121 years old silver chariot (as on January 2015) is dedicated to Lord Murugan as His vehicle and was brought in from Karaikudi in Chettinad South India in 1894 by the Indian Vessel SS Ronna. Before the present silver chariot, there was a wooden chariot that was used and which was later donated to the Medan Nagarathar Temple. The silver chariot is 23’ 9”tall and 10’ 9” long and 7½ feet wide. About ½ ton of iron, 5/8 ton of silver and 6½ tons of Burmese teak has been used to build the chariot. It has a wooden base structure with a wooden superstructure on which there is an encasing layer of silver sheets beaten and formed into place to coat the underlying wooden sculpture work.

The silver chariot is used for the procession of Lord Murugan every year during Thaipusam from Penang Street temple house to the Waterfall Road Nattukottai Nagarathar Thandayuthapani Temple and back. The chariot is traditionally drawn by a pair bulls. The silver chariot was used for over 100 years without any major repairs at all. The original wheels were used for 99 years! Annually the chariot is polished to a sheen for use during Thaipusam.

The then 110 year old chariot was refurbished between 9th February 2004 and 8th July 2004 at a cost of about RM150,000. The chariot originally had about 650 Kg of silver and some 28 Kg of additional silver was used to complete the refurbishment job. The major wood work was redone and four additional wheels were built new. In october 2014, wooden wheels of the Chariot have been converted as Metal wheel with bearing in order to ease the bulls to pull it comfortably without strain. On 12.11.2014 a vellottam of Chariot was done with bearing wheels.

It is related that in 1941 when the silver chariot was near the Sivan Temple on Dato Kramat Road, the pinnacle of the chariot was damaged by the electric overhead cables and it was considered an ill omen and the same year the Japanese bombed and then occupied Penang. During the bombing of Penang, the area around the chariot’s storage building were damaged but not the chariot or the storage housing.

During the procession, thousands of devotees will follow the chariot during both legs of the journey. Literally thousands of coconuts are broken during both legs of the journey of the chariot.

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