Though most of the travellers visit Singapore for a couple of days just ‘to do’ the activities, I opted to do something more as I think this city deserves much more than that! Apart from exploring the local attractions and activities, I recommend you to take a visit to the ‘Indian corner’ of Singapore – The Little India for a unique experience.
Besides visiting the spectacular Marina Bay, downtown Singapore and the world-class Orchard Road, Little India offers an altogether different experience – be it for shopping, food or architecture. Get amazed with a variety of Indian cuisine, fresh vegetables, interesting snacks and souvenirs. Emerging from a Tamil settlement, around the 1900s, when raising and trading cattle was staple Little India today is a bustling mini India with anything and everything Indian available to buy. Moreover, indulge yourself in a retail therapy at the world famous Mustafa Centre which is open 24x7.
Off the many activities to do in Little India, we bring you the best of top 5 things to do in this colourful corner of Singapore.
While exploring this cultural hub, don’t miss the opportunity to dine in one of the many well-established restaurants popular for Indian cuisine. The Race Course Road and Serangoon Road are lined up with a wide range of restaurants. One of the popular eateries in the area is Muthu’s Curry for Singapore’s favourite curry dish – the fish head curry. Additionally, Komala Vilas and Ananda Bhavan are popular among vegetarian food lovers. You can also try some Indian street food like roti paratha (flat breads) and thosai (Indian styled pancakes) at the Food Centre and Tekka Market area. If you get thirsty in the Little India Arcade, do try the Bangladeshi produced mango drink called ‘Mangolee’.
2. See & Do
The biggest and most popular attraction in Little India is the Sri Veeramkaliamman Temple. This 19th century beauty, dedicated to Goddess Kali, is an impressive architectural structure on both inside and outside. The colourful gopuram, a large tower-like structure at the entrance of the temple, attracts everyone’s eyes. It is known for its intricately carved Hindu deities that are colourfully painted. Another popular Hindu temple situated in the Serangoon Road is the Sri Srinivasa Perumal Temple dedicated to Lord Vishnu. However, Singapore’s other religions are also represented here – with the staggering 15 metre high Buddha of the Sakya Muni Buddha Gaya Temple, the stunning Taoist Leong San See Temple and the Abdul Gafoor Mosque all worth a visit.
If you want to check out some fresh vegetables and Indian spices, head to the Buffalo Road where the vendors sell their produce at affordable prices.
No trip to Little India is complete without a visit to the 24-hour emporium – Mustafa Centre located at the corner of Serangoon and Syed Alwi Roads. The local Singaporeans, consider it as a treasure trove of anything and everything found at the lowest fixed prices. Just to put things in numbers - this 24-hour shopping mall claims to have 75,000 items on its four levels, covering an area of 70,000 sq.ft. and attracting 15,000 visitors every weekend.
You can also visit the two-storey building of shop-houses that date back to the 1920s called The Little India Arcade. This is a one-stop arcade loaded with handicrafts, silverware, Indian clothing, bags, food outlets, jewellery, home furnishings and much more. As you navigate through the arcade located on Serangoon Road, get ready to try your bargaining skills. The basic rule of bargaining is ask for at least a 20% discount, but try your luck with a 30% discount, sometimes it does work!
Some of the key streets that branch out of Serangoon Road are Campbell Lane, Veerasamy Road, Upper Dickson Road, Dunlop Street and Syed Alwi Road. Each street has something to offer from home décor to clothes and accessories. The best part about shopping in Little India is the little stores offering ‘Buy 3 for SGD 10’ items. Visit the Tekka Centre located on the corner of Bukit Timah Road and Serangoon Road for more bargains! Originally a slaughter house for cattle in the 1920s, Tekka Centre was then moved to its current location in 1982 and is considered a landmark in Little India.
You can also visit the Tekka Mall and City Square Mall for some branded shopping options.
Little India is the most preferred area among backpackers and budget travellers as it offers wide range of hostels and hotels in India. The area is also home to cheap restaurants, internet cafés and local markets providing an opportunity to cut back cost on stay and food for budget-conscious travellers. One of the most trendy and affordable hostel is Hangout @Mt. Emily located between Orchard Road and Little India. You can also opt for boutique hotel options like Aqueen Jalan Besar located right in the heart of Little India. However, be ready to expect smaller rooms as major hotel chains across Singapore in two and three-star category feature smaller sized rooms.
Despite the fact that the streets of Little India continue to buzz after dark, the area isn’t really known for its nightlife. Life after sunset in Little India focuses around eating and shopping - there are a couple of exceptions standing out for those in search of drinks and good times – Backpacker haunt, The Prince of Wales, Barkode, Zsofi Tapas Bar, Curry and Beer, Suprette and Countryside Café. The Prince of Wales Backpacker Pub is a brightly painted Australian pub plus a hostel. The non-pretentious atmosphere and cheap beer makes this place a hit among budget travellers. So, what are you waiting for? Book for hotels in India online and enjoy a luxurious stay
Author : Anita Jain