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6 Places of Interest in Little India for Culture Lovers

Explore Little India in Full Colour

Located east of the Singapore River along Serangoon Road, Little India is a treat for all your senses.

Take your pick from 24-hour shopping at Mustafa Centre, tucking into a local breakfast at Tekka market, sniffing the aromatic fragrances of fresh jasmine flowers, or gawking at the multi-coloured statues at the Sri Srinivasa Perumal Temple.

Contrary to stereotypes, Little India is both multi-cultural and multi-faceted. While South Indian culture can very much be seen and felt here, Chinese clan associations, multi religious buildings, and a variety of clothing, hardware, and second-hand stores co-exist comfortably with those peddling traditional wares such as Indian spices and jewellery. More recently, artisanal cafés and hipster joints have been welcomed into the fold.

A serendipitous romp around the streets of Little India will surely turn up surprising and colourful finds. It may even evoke what author Marthe Troly-Curtin describes, “Time you enjoy wasting is not wasted time."

The PARKROYAL on Kitchener Road team lets you in on where to experience the best tastes, sights, and sounds of Singapore’s most colourful neighbourhood.

1. Tuck into Mouth-Watering Local Fare at Tekka Centre

Address: Corner of Bukit Timah Road and Serangoon Road
Opening hours: 6:30am to 9:00pm daily

Originally known as Kandang Kerbau, which is Malay for buffalo pens, Tekka Centre is the ethnic melting pot of Little India. Here you’ll meet Chinese stallholders who speak Tamil and Malay, and Tamil shopkeepers who are fluent in Chinese and even Hokkien, one of the most common Chinese dialects in Singapore.

Locals love shopping at Tekka’s market because the quality and price of the fresh foods available are unbeatable. The variety of fresh produce such as meats, vegetables and fruits is also overwhelming; even the most exotic of ingredients and spices can be found here.

Feeling a little heady with the smells of raw meat and fish? Make your way upstairs to the food centre, which houses some of the best local food in Singapore. Don’t leave without tasting the nasi briyani, a traditional Indian dish of saffron coloured rice cooked in aromatic spices and served with mutton or chicken. If you prefer Chinese food, make a beeline for 545 Whampoa Prawn Noodles or Heng Gi Goose and Duck Rice.

Get directions to Tekka Centre

2. Learn about Indian Culture at Indian Heritage Centre

Address: 5 Campbell Lane, Singapore 209924
Phone number: +65 6291 1601
Opening hours: Tuesdays to Thursdays: 10:00am to 7:00pm
Fridays to Saturdays: 10:00am to 8:00pm
Sundays and Public Holidays: 10:00am to 4:00pm
Closed on Mondays

Indian Heritage Centre (IHC) offers year-round exhibitions and activities to promote a deeper appreciation of Indian cultures. Its permanent galleries (levels 3 and 4) feature artefacts and interactive displays that depict the experiences of the Indian communities in Singapore and Malaya during the colonial period.

The building itself is unique. Its façade draws inspiration from Indian and modern architectural elements. Crisscrossed with stairs, the translucent wall face of the IHC is inspired by the baoli, or Indian stepwell. These ancient wells were founts of drinking water, and also used for bathing, prayer, and meditation.

If you are game enough to explore Little India by foot, you can pick up a copy of the Little India Heritage Trail booklet at the visitor counter. The Trail offers three curated routes that will take you across the precinct’s historical landmarks, places of worship, and retail offerings. 

There are also craft workshops available at IHC. However, do check out the timings prior to visiting to avoid disappointment.

Get directions to Indian Heritage Centre

3. Savour Nepalese Delights at New Everest Kitchen

Address: 55 Chander Road, Singapore 219550
Phone number: +65 6299 0745
Opening hours: Mondays and Wednesdays to Saturdays: 11:30am to 3:00pm, 6:00pm to 10:00pm
Tuesdays: 6:00pm to 10:00pm
Sundays: 11:30am to 10:00pm

For an authentic Himalayan dining experience, head to New Everest Kitchen on Chander Road. A humble Nepalese establishment, New Everest Kitchen is known for its sumptuous and cuddly-looking momo (steamed chicken dumplings served with a tangy chilli sauce).

Known for its warm and hospitable service and wallet-friendly prices, other raved about dishes here include the butter chicken and garlic naan (an Indian flatbread), as well as the biryani and deep fried okra.

Wash it all down with a sweet ice-cold lassi (yoghurt drink) or beer.

Get directions to New Everest Kitchen

4. Shop Like the Locals at Mustafa Centre

Address: 145 Syed Alwi Road, Singapore 207704
Phone number: +65 6295 5855
Opening hours: 24 hours daily

For the best bargain buys in Singapore, head to Mustafa Centre. Open 24 hours, the name Mustafa is synonymous with offering a huge variety of products at very affordable prices.

Don’t worry if you forgot to pack something in your travelling bag, you’ll probably be able to find it here – in a dozen variations. From books, DVDs, and electronic goods, to fashion, jewellery, and household appliances, and even toys and craft materials.

There are well over 300,000 items in stock at Mustafa Centre. The happy problem is finding everything you need in this 200,000 square foot multi-storey superstore.

One more thing. If you ever need to exchange currencies, or make visa arrangements in the wee hours of the night, Mustafa is the place to go.

Get directions to Mustafa Centre

5. Stand in Awe of Sri Srinivasa Perumal Temple

Address: 397 Serangoon Road, Singapore 218123
Phone number: +65 6298 5771
Opening hours: 6:30am to 12:00 noon, 6:00pm to 9:00pm daily

Just a few minutes’ walk from PARKROYAL on Kitchener Road is Sri Srinivasa Perumal Temple, one of the key places of interest in Singapore and a major religious site. It was gazetted as a National Monument in 1978, joining a list of Singapore heritage buildings that includes the likes of the Istana, Sun Yat Sen Nanyang Memorial Hall, and St Andrew’s Cathedral.

Built in 1855, this temple is dedicated to Lord Vishnu, one of three supreme Hindu deities, along with Brahma and Shiva. It is believed that Vishnu's role is to protect humans and to restore order to the world.

Although the temple dates back some 150 years, its 20-metre tall gopuram (entrance tower) depicting the different incarnations of Vishnu is a relatively recent addition, built only in 1966.

This temple is also the starting point for Hindu devotees and kavadi (a metallic or wooden structure) carriers during Thaipusam, one of the largest Indian festivals in Singapore.

If you’re planning a temple visit, remember to dress modestly, with shoulders covered, and long pants or skirts (covering the knees). Footwear should be removed and left outside the temple.  

Get directions to Sri Srinivasa Perumal Temple
  

6. Take a Selfie with the House of Tan Teng Niah

Address: 37 Kerbau Road, Singapore 219168

Built in 1900, the former house of Tan Teng Niah is the only surviving Chinese villa in this precinct – and an extremely colourful one at that.

Tan Teng Niah was a Chinese businessman who owned several candy factories along Serangoon Road. The story goes that he built this house for his wife, and the calligraphic inscription Siew Song (“elegant pine” in Mandarin) that hangs over the entrance referred to her.

Painted in dazzling hues of red, green, blue, yellow, and pink, the house was restored and conserved in the 1980s for commercial use. As it now houses several businesses under its psychedelic-coloured roof, it may no longer be possible to enter the building. However, a selfie in front of what might be Singapore’s most quaint and colourful house is definitely in order.

Insider tip: The best time to capture the vibrant colours of the house is around noon. Do remember to dress light as it can be extremely hot at this time of the day.  

Get directions to The House of Tan Teng Niah

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