Little India - Singapore's Best Attraction

Unlike most of Singapore which is stylish and flashy, Little India is a surreal place which takes you 50 years into the past. I'll bet you will never be able to walk too far from the jasmine smell emanating from garland shops. An average westerner will quickly notice that Little India is dirtier, noisier and rowdier than the rest of Singapore. Always super crowded, traffic signals are often ignored, and rules are not much respected here. Recent riots in Little India have given it a bad name, but this was an unusual incident and it is a safe place for tourists.
Deepavali festival lights on Serangoon Road, Little India
Just take any of the trains that go to Little India Station or hop into a taxi to get here. If you want  a "full experience", go on a weekend, when the place will be packed with migrant workers. Signs like "Don't urinate here" and "Don't spit here" are common in Little India. During Indian festivals like Deepavali or Pongal, you will be amazed by dazzling lights and the spectacular shopping experience. Even for a local Singaporean who never stepped into this locality, get ready for a culture shock!
Traditional Indian clothes at Tekka Centre
Tekka Centre: This is a huge shopping mall with 2 levels. The first level sells food and second level sells goods. The hawker center in the 1st level is well known for $4 Chicken Biriyani, $1.25 Dosa and other cheap Indian food. You can also find a handful of Chinese and Malay food stands as well.  On the same level is the wet market, where you can find good seafood. Fish, prawns and crab are brought in fresh and sold on a daily basis. The second level is where you find clothes, shoes, bags and other apparel. Traditional Indian tailor shops are also present where you can get your clothes stitched.
Sri Veeramakaliamman Temple - one of the top 10 attractions in Singapore
Temples: Little India has quite a few places of worship, and is riddled with temples.  The most fascinating is the Sri Veeramakaliamman temple, which by itself is one of the top 10 things to do in Singapore. Sri Srinivasa Perumal temple and  Sri Vadapathira Kaliamman temple are also quite popular. Other religious structures like Abdul Gafoor mosque, Foochow Methodist church and Central Sikh Gurdwara are also present.
Indian dancers at Sitara Lounge in Serangoon Road
Drinking: While Arab street is famous for sheesha bars, Little India is well known for its liquor bars. The bars are of several kinds and the most popular of them is the "Tamil Nadu Special" bar, which is out in the open and laborers relax after a long day's work. Food is cheap and this place is super crowded at nights. With recent riots in Little India, drinking has come under vigilance. Night clubs like Sitara Lounge and Club Flux are also located in Little India.
Barefeet Dining and please Sit DOWN in Lagnaa restaurant 
Restaurants: Eating in Little India is a must, and many restaurant still serve your food on banana leaves. The best restaurant here is Lagnaa , where you take off your shoes and sit on the floor to eat! Muthu's Curry is another restaurant popular for its crab and chicken delicacies.While Komala Vilas and Ananda Bhavan give you an authentic South Indian taste, try the Kashmir and Jaggi's for North Indian cuisine.  If you are a cheapskate like me, go to Tekka center or try street side food stands.
My souvenir collection from Mustafa Centre, Singapore
Mustafa Centre: Open 24 hours, this store almost has a cult following among Singaporeans. With unbeatable prices and an enormous variety of goods, Mustafa center stands tall among all the other shops in Little India. If you are an American, it is sure to remind you of Costco, although you don't have to buy in bulk here. International foods, jewelry, vegetables, electronics, clothes, medicine, meat and the list goes on. They sell plenty of inexpensive Singaporean souvenirs, a popular buy among tourists.
Wanderlust is a popular hotel to stay in Little India
Lodging: If you really want to enjoy Little India's ambiance, experience a few days staying in hotels in the locality. Footprints is one of the popular backpacker's hostel located in Perak road. Wanderlust is another lodge, set in a century old building located in Dickson road. There are plenty of other places for accommodation, but be sure to do your research before staying.

Fun Facts Of Little India:

1. Close by is the "Thieves Market" on Sungei road. Once upon a time, stolen goods were sold here. Today, the street vendors sell anything and everything and is a place to buy trinkets and second hand goods.
Palm reading will make everyone giggle!
2. For a fun experience, look around for palm readers and parrot tarot readers. Parrots will pick the card that tells your future, a popular fortune telling method in Tamil Nadu. Watch the parrot tarot reading video here.

3. It is often assumed that Indians first set foot in Little India, which is not true. Tamil traders coexisted peacefully with Chinese and Malay merchants in Tanjong Pagar, long before Little India was created.
A rare photo of Serangoon Road, Little India in 1890
4. Little India was created almost 200 years ago. In 1819, a Tamil trader called Naraina Pillai came to Singapore from Penang, Malaysia. Raffles talked to him about creating a separate ethnic enclave in Singapore and Little India was born.
Henna tattoos are beautiful and popular in Little India
5. Another exciting experience is getting a temporary tattoo. The ink is made from henna, a plant that gives a bright red color. Skilled artists will create fantastic, traditional designs on your body. It will fade after about 5 days.

6. Please bargain in street shops when you buy flowers, souvenirs or other small items. You will be surprised how the prices change, based on your negotiating skills.
An amazing variety of items are sold at street shops of Little India
7. Street shopping is awesome, and you can find some very unique items in small shops. Ayurveda and Siddha medicines, jewelry, ethnic clothes, Indian cosmetics, herbal oils and even old Indian magazines are sold. Statues of fearsome Tamil ancestor Gods like Periyachi Amman and Sangili Karuppan are also sold here.
Little India will give you a unique perspective on Singapore, and is definitely one of the top 10 attractions. Just like Arab Street and Chinatown, Little India has its own flavor and culture. But unlike other attractions, Little India will definitely stimulate your eyes, ears, nose and mouth!


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