Tuesday, June 9, 2015

Little India - Singapore

Little India - Serangoon Road

Little India is a wonderful, slightly crazy, place that bustles with life anytime you choose to visit it. Weekends are particularly noisy and busy, when the whole Indian population of Singapore (circa 400,000 people) and only slightly fewer tourists seem to transcend its streets, alleys, hawker stalls and markets.

The overwhelming smell of incense and fragrance from the orange, red and white marigold garlands hit you as soon as you arrive.

There are a number of places you can shop and explore in Little India - some are indoors and others, out. The main road (Serangoon Road - see photo above) has a number of shophouses all along it, selling everything from gold jewellery and peacock feathers to saris, embroidered and jewel encrusted materials and durians.

Indoors, you have The Verge which is a shopping centre essentially (with air-con) but there isn't much to see here. The Verge sits on the corner of Bukit Timah Road and Serangoon Road.

You also have Little India Arcade, which is a small labrinyth of shops and market stalls. Expect to feel cramped but exhilarated... there's lots to see! This place is brilliant if you're looking for some small, authentic gifts: elephant mobiles, table runners, bags, scarves, fabrics, clothes, cheap jewellery. Not much for the blokes unfortunately!

Little India Arcade isn't big enough to get lost in; it's all spread out over the ground floor.

Little India Arcade
Now if it's saris you want, or a lovely punjab trouser suit, the place to head is The Tekka Centre. Located right next to Little India MRT train station the Tekka Centre is, quite simply, a wonder.

Tekka Centre, Little India

The upper level of The Tekka Centre is literally crammed with clothes and you will always be able to strike a bargain here. There are clothes for as little as S$5 and beautifully ornate saris for a whole lot more.

Clothing in The Tekka Centre

I have bought numerous things from The Tekka Centre including bangles, bindis, punjab trouser suits, silk dresses for my daughter... and never for much money. You can get henna 'tattoos' here, buy sparkly shoes (to match your sparkly outfits) and also get any materials tailored. Here are three lovely tailors happy for their photos to be taken:

The Tekka Centre sits above a wet market. A word of warning - if you're not keen on the smell of raw fish you might find this place a bit of a turn off.

You can buy fresh veggies, flowers, fish, seafood and meat from here. I personally am not keen on the wet markets for buying meat (but that's my preference).

Wet market, G/F The Tekka Centre

And if you can't find what you want from Little India, you could always try Mustafa's, which is a 24-hour  shopping extravaganza (located at Farrer Park)... but that's a whole other post entirely.

In summary, Little India is a must-visit-place for any local, temporary resident (like me) or tourist. It is rich in cultural flavour and will always fascinate.

If you're up for a bit of added cultural exploration, you might like to visit one of the many Hindu temples in the area: Sri Veeramakaliamman Temple (Serangoon Road); Sri Srinivasa Perumal Temple (Serangoon Road); or Shree Lakshminarayan Temple (Chander Road).

Sri Veeramakaliamman Temple

How to get there:

By train: Nearest MRT is 'Little India'

By car: There is limited parking but there are car parks at The Verge and dotted about the area. I would definitely recommend getting the MRT though - it's easier!

Would you take your children?

Absolutely! Pushing a pram around might cause some issues, but that's the same with anywhere outside of a shopping mall in Singapore.

Have fun!

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