Monday, March 3, 2014

Singapura - The Lion City

Legend has it that in 1399, the Sumatran Prince, Sang Nila Utama, after a storm tossed crossing from Bintan to Tumasek Island, spied an animal with a golden mane. He had never seen such an animal as yet and was told it was a Singa, the sanskrit word meaning lion.
Henceforth, he promulgated that the island would be called Singapura or the Lion City.
Whether he actually saw a real lion or not has been the subject of debate ever since.

Nevertheless, the lion has become the symbol of this city.
I thought it would be interesting to see where in Singapore, this animal can still be found.
Here are some of the places or icons where the lion serves as a reminder that this is the Lion City.
(Click on the photo for larger detailed views)

Coleman Bridge
Bank of China, Battery Road.

The Cenotaph War Memorial, Esplanade Park
The Merlion, Marina Bay

Lim Bo Seng Memorial, Elizabeth walk
Fullerton Building

National Museum of Singapore

Peninsula Hotel

Singa the Courtesy Lion, Fort Canning

The State Crest

The State Mace
Replica of the Merdeka Lion, Bukit Batok East Police Centre

The former tomb of Tan Kim Ching at 13ms Changi Road.
The 4 lion statues are now at the National Museum of Singapore.
(The 2 in the rear are elephants not lions)
Lion statue from the former grave of Mr Tan Kim Ching, National Museum of Singapore.

Grave guardian lion statue at Bukit Brown Cemetery.
(Grave of Mr & Mrs Tan Cheng Hoe, my grandparents)

Former Bukit Timah Fire Station

Chinese Gardens, Jurong Town.

Armenian Street Restaurant Signboard

Armenien Street Shop Signboard

Cavenagh Brodge

Singapore Fire Service helmet

Ngee Ann City

Tangs Department Store

Singapore Chinese Chamber of Commerce & Industry
Municipal City Emblem
Istana Gates
The Legends Lion

St Mark's Lions, Sacred Heart Church

Wak Hai Cheng Bio, Philip Street
Ying Po Fu Kun Ancestral Temple

Chinese Weekly Entertainment Club

Teochew Building Lions

I will add to this post as and when I find more lions in Singapore. Do return for more updates occasionally. There will be a photo essay of the lions found at Bukit Brown Cemetery following soon.

If you do know where lions can be found, please send me a comment.


  1. How about the ones at the Balestier Market. Its a pair at the entrance. They are owned by the Fragrance group I think.

    1. Unfortunately the pair of lions are no longer there. I was just there yesterday!

    2. WHAT! gosh!! that is sad to hear! perhaps due to the constant failure of the revamped Balestier Market, the lions have a very low significance there? sigh

    3. They looked almost similar as to the ones at the Bukit Batok East Police Centre as shown in the article above!

  2. Chinese Chamber of Commerce, Thian Hock Keng

  3. Hello! You mention that Tan Cheng Hoe is your grandfather, I suspect that he is one of my ancestors! Is his wife Khoo Kim Lian?

    1. Yes Khoo Kim Lian was my paternal grandmother.
      Could you email me at
      They are buried at Hill5 at Bukit Brown and their graces are not affected by the highway construction. The tomb-keepers there told me that their graves are regularly visited by some ancestors who live in Bishan and Clementi. I have left message at the tomb but to date have not had any contact my my 'lost' relatives until now, though you sign off as anonymous.