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LITTLE INDIA, the Tamilian Quartier of Singapore

LITTLE INDIA, the Tamilian Quartier of Singapore


As you step into Little India, be prepared for an assault on the senses! You will be greeted by the strong, heady scent of spices and jasmine garlands, followed by the treasure trove of silverware, brassware, wood carvings and colourful silk saris, dazzling to behold. Pick up a walking guide and start your exploration of this colourful ethnic quarter.

The first Indian settlers in Singapore arrived with Sir Stamford Raffles as assistants and soldiers back in 1819. In the late 19th century, many more Indian immigrants arrived to find work, be it as labourers to build roads or to take up key positions in the civil service.

Today, Little India is the focal point of Singapore's Indian community. Its spice-scented streets beckon you to a cornucopia of ethnic jewellery, jasmine garlands and silk saris. From the large Tekka Centre and Little India Arcade to the small provision shops, Little India is packed with interesting things to discover. During Deepavali (usually between Oct/Nov), the Indian Festival of Lights, Little India is transformed into a fairyland of gaily decorated, brightly lit streets bustling with shoppers. Witness also the faith of devotees during the colourful and ritualistic Thaipusam in Jan/Feb each year.

Colourful temples co-exist side by side with churches and mosques, parrot fortune tellers stationed by the five-foot way and tantalizing scents of spices drifting out from restaurants. Don’t leave Little India without a temporary Henna tattoo or try “Teh Tarik”, a hand pulled cup of tea.

If you are interested in discovering more about Little India, there are a selection of walking trails to choose from, they are :
(i) Dhobis, Saris & a Spot of Curry
This walking tour is conducted by Journeys Pte Ltd
Every Wednesday, 9.30am- 11.30am
Meeting place: Little India MRT Outside Exit E (Buffalo Road)
SGD 15 Adults, SGD 12 Children 12 years & below
For more details, visit http://www.singaporewalks.com or call (65) 6224 0136.

(ii) Desire Paths - Little India audio tour
Tuesdays to Saturdays, 10.00 am - 4.00 pm
No. 65 Kerbau Road, Singapore 219188
SGD 18.00, For details, please call: (65) 6392 1772

For more information on Little India and the Indian community in Singapore, visit the Little India website at http://www.littleindia.com.sg

Getting There
Take the north east line to NE7, Little India station or take SBS bus number 65 from Orchard Road, alight at Tekka Market along Serangoon Road.

If you are in singapore, do not fail to take a walking tour of Little India. An online version of the guide of Singapore Tourism Board is available at
Here is a list of important places you will get to discover on this walking tour:
1. Little India Arcade9. Zhujiao Centre
2. Campbell Lane10. Race Course Road
3. Abdul Gaffoor MosqueSakya Muni Buddha Gaya Temple
4. The Church Of True LightLeong San Temple
5. Indian Food/RestaurantsSri Srinivasa Perumal Temple
6. Spice GrinderMustafa Centre
7. Sri Veeramakaliamman TempleEllison Building
8. Jewellery Shops..


History of Little India of Singapore

When Sir Stamford Raffles sailed into Singapore in 1819, with him was an entourage of 2320 Indian settlers in Singapore, and they resided mainly in the area near Chulia Street in Chinatown, which Raffles had originally designated for the Indian community. In the late 19th century, many Indian migrants came to Singapore to find work, be it to build roads, clear swamps or to take up key positions in the civil service.

Two major reasons for the influx of Indians into the site where Little India stands today were the introduction of cattle-rearing on the fertile land near Rochor River by wealthy cattle merchants such as Mr Belilos (a Jewish Indian from Calcutta), and the building of the Race Course for the Europeans nearby in 1843. Immigrants from Calcutta, Madras and Malaya flocked here and by the turn of the century, this area, once covered in gambier, banana and vegetable plantations, had become a flourishing commercial centre for the Indian community.

Spreading out from both sides of Serangoon Road, this little enclave of the Indian community became fondly known as "Little India".

Here is a list of 20 "Must Do" Things
(recommended by Singapore National Tourist Board)
  • 1. Watch flower garland makers vigorously weave fragrant garlands along the five-foot ways of shophouses
  • 2. Catch one of the last spice millers milling aromatic spices in a yellow building in Cuff Road
  • 3. Try some of the colourful Indian sweets and desserts at one of the Indian confectioneries
  • 4. Take a peek into one of the few traditional barber shops at Dunlop Street
  • 5. Saviour traditional roti prata and watch how it is prepared by being thrown into the air by the cook
  • 6. Feast on a spicy curry meal in one of the restaurants in Race Course Road
  • 7. Saviour a South Indian vegetarian meal with your right hand
  • 8. Watch Hindu devotees at prayers inside a Hindu temple
  • 9. Have your fortune told by a parakeet bird at an Indian fortune-teller stand along the five-foot ways of shophouses
  • 10. Witness Hindu devotees breaking coconuts at the temple entrance, a ritual signifying the breaking of one's ego before entering temple grounds
  • 11. Have your hands painted with traditional henna designs by a henna artist
  • 12. Catch the betelnut seller prepare his betelnut concoction wrapped in betel leaves
  • 13. Spin the wheel of fortune and have your luck read at Sakya Muni Buddha Gaya Temple
  • 14. Ring one of the bells upon entering a Hindu temple - a gesture asking God to grant your requests
  • 15. Bring home a concoction of exotic spices from a traditional provision shop
  • 16. Take a peek into the last charcoal shop in Little India at No 133 Dunlop Street
  • 17. Feast your eyes on the array of colourful fabrics inside a sari shop
  • 18. Pay a visit to the sacred tree "dressed" in a yellow sash at the junction of Upper Dickson Road and Clive Street
  • 19. Have a cup of teh-tahrik and watch it being "pulled" in front of you
  • 20. Get a vantage view of the bustling wet market from the 2nd floor of Zhujiao Centre every morning ---

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