Little India is truly one of Singapore’s most colourful historical districts. Lime pits, brick kilns and a race track once dotted the neighbourhood, and its streets thronged with herdsmen, merchants and garland makers plying their trade.
To this day, this enclave of Indian culture retains its unique heritage. The district is a tantalising blend of new and old, with contemporary street art and hip eateries sitting alongside age-old temples and vendors selling a tantalising mix of spices, silk and flowers.
Take a walk with us, and discover the many charms of this two-century old enclave.
All venues are near Little India MRT Station
1. Soak in the culture
Sri Veeramakaliamman Temple
Start off your discovery of Little India bright and early, with a morning visit to 1 Sri Veerama-
Built by Indian pioneers who lived in the Serangoon district during the 19th century, this gorgeous place of worship is dedicated to the ferocious goddess Kali, and is a great place to deepen your understanding of Hinduism.
Former house of Tan Teng Niah
After you’re done soaking in the culture, take a morning stroll to the former house of 2 Tan Teng Niah. Once owned by a prominent Chinese businessman who owned sweet factories in the neighbourhood, this colourful, two-storey bungalow is a must-visit for history buffs looking to admire both European and Chinese styles of architecture.
Alternative attractions: Tekka Centre
If you’d like to fuel up before visiting Sri Veeramkaliamman Temple, you can drop by 3 Tekka Centre for an early breakfast. The hawker stalls here sell a whole smorgasbord of Indian staples, including naan (layered oven-baked flatbread) and vadai (fried savoury Indian doughnut).
2. Delight your senses
The Banana Leaf Apolo
For lunch, savour traditional Indian food off a banana leaf at this traditional eatery. Established in 1974, 4 The Banana Leaf Apolo is a household name among locals, and is famous for its fish head curry and spicy chicken masala.
Little India Arcade
Work off your hearty meal with a walk to remember at 5 Little India Arcade. Sights, sounds and smells abound at this bustling indoor emporium, with vendors selling everything from trinkets to tapestries and sweet treats.
Jothi Store & Flower Shop
Don’t let the name of this establishment fool you—while 6 Jothi Store & Flower Shop originally sold flowers and garlands for religious occasions, the store now sells a range of souvenirs and knick-knacks. Religious statuettes, incense sticks and colourful bangles are just some treasures bound to catch the eyes of culture lovers.
For vegetarian foodies: Komala Vilas
If you’re vegetarian or abstaining from meat for religious reasons, 7 Komala Vilas is a great alternative to Banana Leaf Apolo. This popular establishment has been around since 1947, and serves up cuisine from both North and South India.
3. Journey through heritage
Indian Heritage Centre
Singapore’s Indian and South Asian communities have a long and storied history that intertwines deeply with our nation. Broaden your understanding of this facet of Singaporean culture with the 8 Indian Heritage Centre range of events, exhibitions and guided tours.
Masjid Abdul Gaffoor
Next, take a stroll down Campbell Lane, until you see 9 Masjid Abdul Gaffoor. Gazetted as a national monument in 1979, this mosque is one of the island’s oldest, with a history that dates back to the 1800s.
Singapore’s melting pot of cultures is on full display at this beautiful place of worship, which integrates Western classical motifs like Corinthian pillars with Saracen architecture and calligraphic adornments.
Alternative attractions: Mural @ 2 Dickson Road
If you’re a fan of street art, take a short detour from Abdul Gaffoor Mosque to 10 2 Dickson Road. A vivid floral mural by art duo sobandwine adorn the walls here, and make the perfect backdrop for an #OOTD.
4. Discover the new and the novel
Besides its tradition and heritage, Little India’s evolution can be seen in the vibrant enterprises that you’ll spy as you stroll around the district.
One such business is 11 Onlewo, a design store that will let you take a piece of our city home with you. Fabrics, homeware and gifts abound at this establishment, and many of this store’s designs take inspiration from Singapore’s iconic neighbourhoods.
The Malayan Council
For a midday break, drop by 12 The Malayan Council at Dunlop Street. This beloved local eatery serves up Western dishes inspired by Singapore’s flavours, such as their beef ribs with roti kirai (laced pancake) and pasta with duck and chilli padi (bird’s eye chilli).
If you’re still feeling satiated from lunch, we suggest sampling their delicious cakes, which are inspired by regional and local flavours like durian and ondeh ondeh (glutinous rice balls with palm sugar filling, coated with desiccated coconut).
Alternative attractions: Mural @ Dunlop Street
Looking to feed your ‘gram? More street art awaits you a short stroll away. Alive@Clive can be found along the walls of 13 Haniffa. This dynamic work of art depicts a traditional Indian dancer against a multi-hued backdrop, and is sure to bring a dash of colour to your day.
If you’re on the lookout for souvenirs, Haniffa is a great place to shop for saris (traditional Indian womenswear) and traditional fabrics to bring home with you.