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Singapore: A neighbourhood guide to Little India

By Rachel Yeo 1 October 2020

Header image courtesy of Cattan2011 (via Flickr)

Little India is one of Singapore’s most vibrant districts, where Indian culture comes to life. Historically, many Indian labourers came during the 1880s for labour work in the city. They were settling along Serangoon road, one of Singapore’s earliest roads, which was renamed “Little India” by the 1980s. Today, you can find elements of the past preserved in unique architectural buildings and religious monuments. Authentic Indian food and cheap shopping are also easily found there. If you have a day to spare while exploring Singapore, here’s a non-exhaustive guide on what you can do in this cultural hotspot.

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Start the morning at Tekka Centre with a hearty breakfast. Conveniently located just next to Little India MRT station, Tekka Centre centre is a multi-story building that houses a plethora of food stalls and markets.

Eating roti prata, an Indian-influenced flatbread dish, is the perfect way to kick start your day. It can be eaten with a plate of sugar or curry on the side. If you prefer something more filling, there are also Indian vegetarian and North India cuisines to try.

In the meantime, check out the wet market that sells fresh seafood and vegetables from India and Sri Lanka. Many retail shops also offer traditional costumes and casual clothes at a cheap price.

After breakfast, feel free to observe Hindu temples nearby. The Sri Veeramakaliamman Temple is located in the middle of Little India and many Hindus go there for worship. The facade of the temple is also eye-catching as it presents a variety of Indian deities.

In the afternoon, stroll around the streets of Little India and admire the unique architecture while observing the local’s way of life. Stop by the various smaller and independently-run shops selling fresh groceries and spices like turmeric and chilli at affordable prices. Garlands made out of bright coloured flowers like carnations and jasmines are also a common sight in these shops. These garlands are usually popular during Indian weddings and worship sessions.

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Campbell Lane is probably one of the liveliest parts of Little India to check out. Stop by MeatSmith Little India there for lunch, a contemporary Indian fusion restaurant serving modern Indian barbeque with a mix of western flavours.

The lane also has traditional shophouses and extravagant murals painted on these buildings, making it the ideal location for contemporary art lovers to take Instagram-worthy photos and appreciate art that depicts the best of Indian culture. On the same street, you can find the Indian Heritage Centre, where you can view permanent exhibitions and understand how Indians have influenced the city.

As night falls, it is a must to visit Mustafa Centre for the best dining and shopping deals. Recharge with a relaxing dinner at Kebab's N Curries located on the rooftop of the centre. Their dining space is situated under a glass and steel dome decorated with neon lights and flowers, offering a scenic view of Little India from the top. You’ll be spoiled for choice as their menu is filled with cheap northern and southern Indian dishes to try.

Be sure to eat as much as you can during dinner, so you have more energy to shop till you drop at Mustafa Centre—which is open for 24 hours. The department store has everything you can possibly need—jewellery, watches, electronic products, household products, shoes, and clothes—you name it, they’ve got it.

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Rachel Yeo

Contributor

Rachel is a Singaporean journalist based in Hong Kong. During her travels, she loves exploring unconventional places, understanding different cultures and learning the local way of life. While passionate about lifestyle and travel, Rachel also cares about current affairs and doomscrolls a little too much on social media.

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