In Bukit Kepayang, or Victoria Hills, near Seremban is a Hindu temple that is well worth a visit — the Arulmighu Maha Sapthakanniga Devi Temple.
The 100-year-old temple is said to be the only Kanniamman temple in the country. It is known by a number of names, including Virgins’ Temple, Kanni Kuil.
“Sapthakanniga” translates into “seven virgin goddesses”. The temple houses seven deities – Biramme, Mageswary, Gaumaree, Vyshnavi, Varaagi, Magenthree and Samundy.
Driving from Kuala Lumpur on the North-South Expressway, one can just make out the roof of the temple on a hilltop to the right immediately before taking Exit 218.
It is difficult to find the access road to the temple and it is a 15-minute hike up the hill from the nearest place to park the car.
The most commonly told story about the founding of the temple is that of a Chinese contractor who was mining silica on the hill. He could not get his explosives to work and so he brought in an expert from London who told him where to place the charges.
When the contractor and the expert went up to inspect the charges, they found the explosives had been thrown several metres away. While there, they spotted a snake and killed it.
After that the contractor became ill and many of his workers had freak accidents. His spiritual mentor told him his mining of the hill had offended the spirit Nagamma, who frequented the hill in the form of a snake or a young lady.
He was advised to perform prayers and build a temple for Nagamma on the hilltop in order to recover his health, which he did.
Another story tells of an ice cream vendor who, after a day of selling at the temple, left without praying or making an offering.
On his way down the hill he encountered two beautiful sari-clad women who asked him for ice lollipops.
After reaching home he fell ill. He consulted a “bomoh” who told him that those two women were actually goddesses and, sure enough, when he went to pray for recovery, he saw that two of the statues at the temple resembled the women.
The temple itself is fairly simple and less ornate than many. May 1 is the most important day of the year for the temple when the Milk Pooja takes place.
After fasting for three days, devotees wearing yellow cloth make their way on foot to the hilltop carrying pots of milk that they offer at the temple.
The priest, who is from Madurai in Tamil Nadu, India, said devotees hoping for a special wish to be granted fast for three days and go to the temple before the full moon and circle the neem tree seven times, before tying pieces of silk around the tree’s branches.
This article first appeared on Thrifty Traveller.