Little india walking tour
Start your tour at the Little India MRT, take exit C and at ground level you will find yourself at the Tekka Market. Its one of the most popular cooked food and market centres in Singapore. Go up and at level one you will find hundred over food stalls selling Indian, Malay (Muslim) and Chinese food. Price range $3-$5 on the average. Its one of the most popular food haunts, and avoid jostling for space with the office workers that'll brave the heat and humidity in their long-sleeved office attire to have their lunch there (12-2pm). Must try includes Roti Prata, Nasi Bryanis and Indian Rojak. The Chinese food stalls are equally delicious.
Exit Tekka Centre (Market) and head towards the main road of Little India, Serangoon Road. Cross over Serangoon Road at the traffic light at Buffalo Road and head over to The Verge along Hastings Road. While it is modern, The Verge shopping mall used to be the location of the old Tekka Centre (Market) that stood there for 100 over years before shifting to the current location. You might need something from the Sheng Shiong supermarket, Mustapha money changer or simply to use the toilets.
The area known as Little India Arcade has a cluster of souvenir shops, fabric, clothing and Henna tattoo shops. Shop around and then walk through it to reach Campbell Lane, a closed off road now a pedestrian mall. If you are here during Indian Festivals, this road will be transformed into a temporary Festival Village jammed packed with crowds. Walk down Campbell Lane away from Serangoon Road and you will reach the new kid on the block, the Indian Heritage Centre.
A good hour can be spent here browsing the informative storyboards and displays outlining the Indian influence in Singapore and the region (Tip: make sure to check out the building facade at night as well).
Get back on Serangoon Road walk down the road, notice the array of shops, starting with the corner Indian spice and vegetable shops, followed by the lovely Ananda Bhavan Vegetarian Restaurant. A red square paper with the letter 'A' by the door tells you the standard of the hygiene of the food stall (and all F&B outlets island wide). Next to that is the popular Haniffa textile shop with a heady offering of brightly coloured fabric and sarees, traditional Indian dressing.
By now you might have noticed that the road names are conspicuously non Indian. Hastings, Campbell Lane, Dunlop/Dickson Road, all testament to the days when the area were residences of the old British inhabitants who moved here, ostensibly to be near to the race course. In the early 1900s their homes were demolished to make way for the shop houses that provided a mixed use of commerce and residence for the rapidly developing district of Little India.
Continue down the road and pass Upper Dickson and Cuff road and look across the road and notice the simple shop houses, with some just 2 stories and a single window and others down the road that are 3 stories with 3 windows, and a lot more ornate. A sign of the changing times and fortunes of the early settlers here.
Along the way pass the gold jewelry, hand phone accessories, garment shops. When you reach Veerasamy Road be prepared to cross over to the Sri Veeramakaliaman Hindu temple. It is one of the oldest Hindu temples in Singapore. Built by Indian workers living around the area and is also the first one here. Dedicated to the Indian goddess Kaliamman, flanked by her sons Murugan and Ganesha. Remove footwear before going in. Photos and videos allowed, and at times you might be approached to cover up exposed shoulders and knees for modesty.
At this point we turn into the side street Belilios Lane and this is where you will catch sight of the apartment blocks ahead. These are built by the government agency the Housing Development Board (HDB) around the 1980s. As a matter of fact of which 80% of locals live in and HDB flat all over the island. We walk on down all the way to Chander Road and make a right turn towards Rotan Lane. This is another area where you will get a whole bunch of Indian restaurants that will tickle your taste buds, or assault it depending. Round Rotan Lane and onto Race Course Road where it all began.
The green field across the road is where the race course used to be around the early 1840s. Now known as Farrer Park, it lasted till they moved the racing club to Bukit Timah in the early 1990s. These days, its still a place for popular sports and recreational activities like football, rugby and cricket.
Turn left and head down Race Course Road. Several excellent Indian fine dining options are along this stretch, each vying for your attention and luring you in. Names like Sakunthala, Banana Leaf Apollo, Indian Express, Jaggi's Northern Indian Cuisine, Mustard, Fifth Season, Komala Villas etc. Take your pick. Prices can range around $10-40 per person.
Reach the junction with Kerbau Road (which means 'Buffalo' in Malay), turn left and keep right walking along the lovely shop houses and you'll come across this unusual building. Known as the residence of Chinese businessman Tan Teng Niah, it is one of the last standing Chinese Villa in Singapore. Tan conducted his business in Little India and must have done quite well to build this house, dedicated to his wife. Skirt round the left side of the house and walk through the tight space ahead and pass the vegetable stalls and you will arrive at Buffalo Road.
Turn right and you head back for Little India MRT station. Continue left, walking along Buffalo Road and you will reach Serangoon Road. On the way pass the ubiquitous fresh flower garland shops with chains of flowers hanging on display. Feel free to take photos and videos, although touching the flower and reaching forward to smell it might get a chiding from the stall keeper. Flowers are purchased for religious purposes and are meant to be kept fresh. That might be the reason. Cross the road back into Tekka Market and go ahead and enjoy a nice Indian meal or a cuppa lovely iced tea. Hope you enjoyed the tour.
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