10 Amazing Things To Do In Little India, Singapore
Little India happens to be one of the most vibrant, fascinating, yet smallest ethnic neighborhoods in Singapore. It wouldn’t take much to notice that this community is extremely busy and messy, contrary to the country’s touted image of being so orderly. However, amidst the action-packed enclave lies intriguing sights, culture and food your senses just can’t miss. If you ever find yourself in Singapore, Little India is one of the most amazing places to visit. And when in Little India, below are some of the 10 places you must definitely experience.
Sri Veeramakaliamman Temple
One of the most fascinating places to visit in Little India, is the Sri Veeramakaliamman found on the Sarangoon Road. The temple has a beautiful interior with multipurpose halls serving various functions including weddings and the usual crowds of people paying homage to the deities. Built in early 19th Century Singapore, this Hindu temple is one of the oldest in the country. It is named after and dedicated to Kali (who is one of the greatest Hindu goddesses).
Indian immigrants who settled in Singapore in the 1800s, built the temple. They initially called it the Soonambu Kambam Kovil, which was an allusion to the numerous lime ovens around the temple at the time. The temple has been renovated many times, following the Second World War and remains a spectacle worth seeing. The outer parts of the structure are enveloped in several colorful statues that make it a collective piece of art and a favorite photography site. Entrance to the temple is free. That being said, one must be dressed decently and remove their shoes before taking a step inside.
Sakya Muni Buddha Gaya Temple
Otherwise known as the Temple of a Thousand lights, the Sakya Muni Buddha Gaya Temple, combines a mix of Thai, Indian and Chinese building styles traced as far back as 1927. It boasts of a huge statue of Buddha that weighs approximately 300 tonnes, measures about 15 metres in height, and is engulfed by what looks like thousands of small lamps contained in its walls.
A Thai monk, known as Venerable Vutthisasara was the first to have constructed this Buddhist temple as a roof shed between the Farrar Park MRT stations and Little India. Later on, two brothers, Par and Har Aw Boon, creators of the popular Tiger Balm ointment, continued to construct the building to its current state with donations they received. This is another free place to visit. However, keep your dressing at its modest best in order not to offend worshippers.
Little India Arcade
This vast collection of stalls has been in existence since the 1920s and remains one of the preferred destinations for purchasing all kinds of souvenirs from India. Tourists especially love this arcade because they get to experience the nostalgic essence retained from the Colonial era. The building encompasses these and many more:
- Numerous food stalls
- Narrow pathways where tourists can buy souvenirs including sophisticated textiles, floral garlands and possibly get a traditional henna tattoo for themselves
You cannot visit Little India without passing through the popular Mustafa Centre which offers quality designer products at very affordable prices. Yes, this shopping mall works 24 hours daily. It is usually crowded considering its narrow aisles. On top of that, it is fairly disorganized as compared to many other parts of Singapore. However, it is quite likely that you will find the products you may not have found in other parts of town being sold in this market. Though it began operations as a simple garment shop in 1971, Mustafa Centre currently houses over 4 floors of stacked items and facilities including a hotel, jewelry, visa and travel agencies and catering services among others.
House of Tan Teng Niah
This eye-catching house is one of the most brightly colored in the whole of Singapore. It is a popular sight not just because of its upbeat rainbow shades but because it is one of the last remaining Chinese villas in this Indian district. The house which was at first painted green and white, is said to have been built by a businessman named Tan Teng Niah for his wife in 1900. The structure has undergone several renovations to achieve the colorful look for which it is well known for. Most of these facelifts were done by the locals, and continues to be under their care. Currently, the 2-storey house features numerous commercial offices, and serves as a photogenic spot for tourists.
Tekka Centre is another interesting venue to explore, not for its beauty or structure but for food. The vending centre has a reputation of selling delicious Indian food at very low prices. You can virtually find every household product you need, as well as diverse shop houses that provide all forms of services to its customers.
Indian Heritage Centre
What is a visit to Little India, without actually learning a bit about the history of the place and people? This is why this four-storey building sits amidst the old stores and narrow lanes – to promote and educate its patrons of the rich culture of the Indian community in Singapore. Its modern structure, inspired by the stepwells, contains a collection of historical artifacts and exhibits that portray and promote the diverse culture and events of the Indian diaspora. This is definitely one of the coolest places to hang out since it’s not usually crowded, plus you get to educate yourself in an interesting way while you’re at it.
Banana Leaf Apolo
Another place to look out for when visiting is a great place to fill one’s stomach. The Banana Leaf Apolo has been serving both locals and tourists exceptional meals for several decades and is regarded as one of the best. Noted for their traditional Indian style of serving dishes on freshly cut banana leaves, which gives it an enhanced flavor, you are sure to be served delightful Indian meals such as fish head curry, chicken masal, briyanis and mutton mysore. The place is open from 10:30 am to 10:30 pm each day, and provides a neat atmosphere that is extremely conducive for families.
Abdul Gafoor Mosque
This district also boasts of a stunning Mosque that embodies a combination of exceptional architectural designs stemming from Victorian, Moorish and South Indian influences. The mosque traces its history back to the year 1859, where it was mainly constructed as a worshipping ground for the Muslim merchants of Southern India who had settled for work around the old race course area at Farrer Park. A number of revamps over the years has rendered it a more attractive tourist site with a notable Arabic-style cupola, supported by Roman-inspired pillars. Again, if you plan on paying a quick visit to this religious place, ensure that you are decently dressed in order not to offend anyone.
Sri Srinivasa Perumal Temple
This Hindu temple, dedicated to Lord Vishnu was constructed in the late 17th Century and is quite similar in appearance to the Sri Veeramakaliamman temple nearby. It is however famous for its colorful five-tiered tower encircled with the relics of Indian deities including Vishnu. This amazing temple is accessible to the local community who observe daily worship sessions known as Pooja.