Category: MUST EATS, NEIGHBOURHOODS, THINGS TO DO
Little India is a buzzing historic area that shows off the best of Singapore’s Indian community, from vibrant culture to incredible shopping. You may not know that this district once had a racecourse, cattle herders and brick kilns. But while these places and people are gone, time stands still in the pockets of this historic district. Olden-day trades sit next to newer businesses: flower-garland vendors, modern eateries, boutique hotels, as well as arts groups. As you walk down Serangoon Road and neighbouring streets, explore their mix of Hindu and Chinese temples, mosques and churches too.
With this comprehensive things-to-do itinerary in Little Indias’s top attractions and hidden gems, you may explore the hidden alleyways and bustling streets on foot while taking in its heritage and cultural sights. Have fun exploring!
1. SRI VEERAMAKALIAMMAN TEMPLE. Step into one of Singapore’s oldest Hindu temples, dedicated to the goddess and destroyer of evil, Sri Veeramakaliamman or Kali. This distinctive landmark has fascinating stories to tell of colonial Singapore. From its earliest days, it was linked with early migrant workers from India, who would have worshipped the goddess to feel safe in a new foreign land. During the Japanese air raids in World War II, many people sought physical refuge at the temple as well as prayed for Kali’s protection. As luck—or fate—would have it, the temple and all its statues escaped the bombings unscathed. With its colourful and intricate statues and detailing, the temple remains one of the most spectacular places of worship in Singapore.
2. EMBARK ON SPICE OF LIFE TOUR. Get your taste buds going and let us learn from our Little India resident experts. We’re on a gastronomical adventure to Spice up your life in Little India’s vibrant hub of flavors. Join us on this walking food tour of Little India to demystify spices, be dazzled by the colourful ingredients that go into Indian dishes, eat to our hearts content and gain a wealth of knowledge about the amazing cuisine and culture here! https://tribe-tours.com/product/spice-of-life-little-india/
3. WALL MURALS. Stroll along streets and back alleys and your eyes will be drawn to extravagant murals showcasing Singapore’s colourful past. With murals such as ‘Working Class Hero‘, ‘A Ride through Race Course Road‘, ‘Madan Mogra, Jasmine of the City‘ and many more, a must visit is the ‘Traditional Trades of Little India’ by Psyfool. This mural depicts some of the traditional trades that were commonly practiced by Indians in the Serangoon area. Try to spot some! Hint: a parrot astrologer who used parrots to pick fortunes, a flower garland vendor who made fragrant flower chains, a dhobi (washerman), a milk delivery man and a kacang putih seller. Fun fact: Did you know that Dhoby Ghaut was actually named after the dhobis – washermen and women? Now you know!
4. FORMER HOUSE OF TAN TENG NIAH. Built in 1900, this is the last surviving Chinese villa in Little India. It embodies an often overlooked story of the days when small Chinese industries operated alongside the cattle and rattan businesses at Little India. Tan Teng Niah was a towkay (Chinese businessman of good standing) who owned several sweet-making factories along Serangoon Road that used sugarcane to produce sweets. Visit this colourful villa and take a look at the five-foot way and richly carved pintu pagar (Malay for “swinging wooden half doors”). Remember to take some pictures for the gram while you’re there too!
5. EMBARK ON THE DOLL TOUR. Are you daring enough to take on the challenge to help the Ferryman free the spirit of The Doll? A policeman from the netherworld, aka The Ferryman, needs your help to locate the scattered body parts of the Japanese doll. Only with the parts as a whole, can the spirit of the doll be freed. You must work fast by following the clues, stories and instructions given by the Ferryman as he communicates with the spirits around us. The body parts have been disguised as ingredients, food, artefacts etc, and you will need to perform tasks to get them. If you’re a brave soul, gather your squad and join us today! https://tribe-tours.com/product/the-doll-little-india/
Last but foremost, fill your tummy with these top 3 must-eats to end your exploration!
1. BANANA LEAF APOLO. This is no stranger to the Indian food scene in Singapore. A hotspot for Indian cuisine lovers, offering a mix of North and South Indian fare. They believe in serving all their dishes on banana leaves, a traditional way of serving food in India. Their signature Apolo Fish Head Curry is a must-order, served with a large fish head swimming in a pool of robust curry gravy. Plant-based diners, you don’t have to feel left out, with the Vegetable Fried Rice that makes for a substantial main.
2. INDIAN EXPRESS. Need some spice? Drop by Indian Express. It’s Michelin-starred Song of India’s second concept space. Meat eaters, go all in with the tandoori mix grill platter that’s topped with a big fat lamb chop, fish, chicken tikka, kebabs and a bowl of lip-smacking mint chutney. If you’re going with a vegetarian friend, be sure to order the masala chaat fries or the Punjabi samosas and double down on Indian street food!
3. MOGHUL SWEET SHOP. Fair warning if you have a sweet tooth! This sweet shop at Little India Arcade is probably the Indian version of Willy Wonka’s Chocolate Factory. It serves a variety of authentic North Indian sweets including gulab jamun, motichoor ladoo, and dodah burfis, just to name a few. It’s a grab ‘n go kinda spot so you can take away all you want. Best to go during off-peak hours (especially before or after the lunch crowd) to avoid snaking queues.