You don’t have to go to India to experience the vibrant culture and the lively traditions of the Indian people. If you are in Singapore, simply head on to Little India!
Say ‘Namaste’ to Little India because it will transport you to the motherland through food bursting with flavor, Bollywood music that makes you dance, and its architecture that will make you feel as if you’re walking down the streets of New Delhi.
In this article, we’ll look into a brief history of Singapore’s Little India, the places you need to visit, and why you should add Little India to your next Singapore itinerary!
Little India is featured on the second day of our 5 days itinerary for Singapore!
History of Little India in Singapore
Did you know that there are approximately 300,000 Indians in Singapore, making it the third-largest ethnic group in the country? This is according to the June 2022 census by Statista!
The Indians have come a long way from being mere traders to becoming a vital part that helped mold Singapore’s history.
Little India’s history started when in the 1840s, Europeans inhabited the land as well as met and mingled in the area, which was once a race course. Its location by the Serangoon River made it an ideal land for racing cattle and for trading livestock.
Traders who came to the area employed mostly Indian workers and as businesses boomed, more and more Indians came. Mosques and Hindu temples were built, making the area look like a replica of the real India.
But what makes Little India special? Is Little India even worth visiting?
The answer is, YES! And here are 10 reasons why!
10 Little India spots worth visiting
Sri Veeramakaliamman Temple
There are over 30 main Hindu Temples in Singapore and Sri Veeramakaliamman Temple is one of the most note-worthy because of its astonishing architecture and its colorful exterior!
Sri Veeramakaliamman Temple’s statues of the Hindu Goddesses Saraswati and Sri Lakshmi Durgai attract tourists for their astounding styles and intricately decorated displays.
The Temple is located along Serangoon Road and dates back to the 19th century. It has facilities for weddings and a multipurpose hall for other events.
The entrance fee to the temple is free. Remember to wear appropriate, modest clothes and take your shoes off when entering the temple as a sign of respect.
Location: 141 Serangoon Road, Singapore 218042
Opening Hours: Tuesday from 5.30 am to 12.15 pm and 2.30 pm to 9 pm
Wednesday–Monday from 5.30 am to 12.15 pm and 4 pm to 9 pm
Tan Teng Niah
It seems like Singapore has preserved a lot of architectural beauty from history like the shophouses in Emerald Hill. In Little India, you’ll find a similarly colorful house called the House of Tan Teng Niah.
The House of Tan Teng Niah dates back to the 1900s and is one of the last Chinese structures in Singapore. The people in the community go hand-in-hand with its preservation and maintenance and are responsible for the iconic look which matches colorful Little India.
If you happen to be around Kerbau Road, you might just want to take a snap of The House of Tan Teng Niah, perfect for your IG!
Location: 37 Kerbau Road, Singapore 219168
We’re quite familiar with the shopping district which is Orchard Road but you might want to check out Mustafa Centre in Little India!
Mustafa Centre is a 24-hour shopping complex in Little India which offers a wide variety of goods like designer products that do not cost an arm and a leg! This makes it a favorite shopping stop for tourists and locals alike!
It is quite packed in this complex and some of the shops can get a bit messy but for the price points, these can be overlooked.
There is definitely something for everyone here in Mustafa Centre and we recommend you to check out this treasure!
Location: 145 Syed Alwi Road, Singapore, 207704
Little India Murals
All over Little India, you’ll find murals as colorful as their spices! But what makes these murals special is how they visually tell the story of the history behind Little India and Singapore.
The murals portray the everyday livelihood of early locals who inhabited the area.
If you’ve seen murals in other parts of Singapore, then there’s definitely more to discover in Little India!
Location: Belilios Lane, Singapore 219958
Sri Srinivasa Perumal Temple
Sri Srinivasa Perumal Temple is another magnificent temple in Little India. The temple was made in honor of the Hindu god, Vishnu.
This is another temple in Little India that we recommend you visit because of its great display of the traditional South Indian style of architecture which showcases the statues of different Hindu deities. It is also adorned with beautiful mandalas and carvings that will surely leave you in awe!
Sri Srinivasa Perumal Temple holds the Thaipusam Festival where devotees would pierce their bodies in respect of the Hindi God of War, Murugan.
Location: 397 Serangoon Road, Singapore 218123
Opening Hours: Daily from 6.15 am to 12 pm and 6 pm to 9 pm
Sakya Muni Buddha Gaya Temple
Another temple we recommend you visit is Sakya Muni Buddha Gaya Temple a.k.a. Temple of a Thousand Lights.
Sakya Muni Buddha Gaya Temple is home to the largest Buddha in Singapore which measures up to 15 meters in height and weighs around 300 tonnes (300,000 kg!).
Looking around, you might notice the Siamese influence. The architectural style is a blend of Chinese, Thai, and Indian styles and designs.
Sakya Muni Buddha Gaya Temple got its nickname, “Temple of a Thousand Lights”, from the chain of lamps surrounding the temple.
Location: 366 Race Course Road, Singapore 218638
Opening Hours: 8 am to 4.30 pm, daily.
Little India Arcade
Little India Arcade is a traditional shopping centre located along Serangoon Road. It offers the most authentic experience of Indian food, music, and goods!
If you to have a remembrance piece of Little India with you, you can also get a henna tattoo. Sure, it’s not permanent but it’s one experience you’ll remember forever!
Perhaps, Little India Arcade is more than just a shopping centre. It also holds the story of P Govindasamy Pillai’s kindness and legacy. Also lovingly known as ‘PGP’, he was an exceptional philanthropist who exerted great efforts in giving to his community.
Location: 48 Serangoon Rd, #02-07, Singapore 217959
Abdul Gafoor Mosque
The word ‘Mosque’ which means “Muslim house of worship” comes from the Arabic term ‘Masjid’ which means “place of prostration”.
Abdul Gafoor Mosque is an architectural gem located on Dunlop Street, Singapore. The Mosque is considered to be a National Monument due to its architectural style that incorporates European and Moghul with Southern Indian architecture.
Originally, the Al-Brar Mosque, built in 1859 (or 1846 in some sources), stood where Abdul Gafoor Mosque stands now but when the former deteriorated, renovations were made and completed by 2003.
Location: 41, Dunlop Street Singapore 209369
Museum of Independent Music
In the words of Marilyn Manson, “Music is the strongest form of magic.”
What better place to experience the magic of music than the Museum of Independent Music (MOIM)?
MOIM dedicates itself to showcasing Singapore’s independent music scene and being a space to learn about the history of independent music in Lion City.
This is a must for all the music junkies out there and it is unique because this is the first of its kind in Singapore!
Location: 23 Madras St, Singapore 208418
Admission: $5 Regular rate, free for children 6 years old and below.
Tekka Food Centre
Looking for a place to find cheap eats in Little India? Well, you don’t have to look far and wide because Tekka Food Centre is the place to be!
Tekka Food Centre is one of the Hawker Centres featured in our 10 Best Hawker Centers list!
This hawker center in Little India serves predominantly Indian food which means that they also serve Halal-certified options. Considering that India is known for their endless collection of spices, expect the food here to be flavorful like no other!
When you are done eating, head on straight to the next levels of Tekka Food Centre where you’ll find different goods straight from the motherland like Bollywood music and movies, silk for saris, and ready-to-wear saris!
Location: 665 Buffalo & Serangoon Roads, Little India, Singapore
Opening Hours: 6:30 am. to 9 p.m., daily.
How to Get to Little India
Little India is a bit far from other tourist spots but no worries because the cheapest ways to get to Little India are by bus and subway.
There are several bus stations that connect you to Little India from other points of Singapore.
Prices for buses to Little India usually costs around $1 to $3 dollars.
To know which bus to take from your current location in Singapore, click this link.
Taking the subway is another cheaper option to get to Little India. The nearest MRT/LRT lines stop in Little India is the Punggol East LRT.
Prices usually also range from $1 to $3 and to know more about subway routes to Little India, you can check out this link.
Little India in Singapore is another place to immerse yourself in Singapore’s culture and traditions as this gem gives you a glimpse of the humble beginnings of the Indian people in the country.
The best part about visiting Little India is that you get to enjoy the culture and food without breaking the bank! On top of that, it’s like you’ve visited two countries without the unnecessary step of flying on an airplane!
Truly, Little India really is a vibrant place built and established by the beautiful Indian people who helped shape the history of Singapore!
Have you visited Little India? What are your thoughts about it? Share your experience down below!