One district not to be missed in Singapore is Little India that stretches along the Serangoon Road. This is where Indian immigrants found refuge when coming to this country. Consequently, you will be overwhelmed by Indian decorations, religious statues, specific scents of saffron, aromatic burning sticks, with jasmine and other floral arrangements all around. There are typical Indian shops, small alleys and once you find yourself here it will be hard to believe that only four percent of the Singapore population are actually Indians (while Chinese make up the majority of 80 percent).
So, there will be small bags of spices mixture to buy depending on the meal you are preparing that day, or you can find piles of colorful traditional sarees, or try to choose from beautifully decorated silver jewelry pieces.
Step into the other part of the world
There is also the Hindu temple that allows tourists’ visits and where you are supposed to take off your shoes in order to get in, pay the ticket if you want to take pictures and do try to avoid areas where worshipers try to pray. Strolling around the courtyard you feel like actually stepping onto Indian soil, and you are amazed by the fact that ethnic authenticity is so well preserved in this city.
There will be women wearing colorful sarong dresses with typical bindi dots on their foreheads. Men were waiting to kneel before the huge statue of Sri Aravan in the courtyard, while people inside were on their knees or lying face down on the pavement.
This is one of the most popular Hindu temples in Singapore – Sri Mariamman. When I first saw it through the taxi window I was so impressed that I have actually tried to remember the surroundings in order to find it the next day. Luckily, one of the neighboring streets is called the Temple Street, so it was not that hard to navigate. Also, not that far from this Hindu temple, there is an imposing Buddhist one, so it would be impossible to miss them both.
Little India houses the whole residential area with numerous high buildings. Although drying laundry outside is against the law in Singapore, the strings with clothes are tolerated in this district.
People came up with an idea to put long sticks through their windows and spread their laundry along those sticks. Locals often joke about it, calling them the “Singapore flags”.
There is residential Chinese area nearby with numerous shops. These buildings are in yellow, white and red colors.
Stroll a bit further and you will end up in the Arabic district with typical houses, small stores, few men busy with their craft, mosques. Since Muslim population make up about 14 percent in Singapore, there are numerous Islamic temples to be seen, along with Al Falah Mosque in the Orchard Road at the ground level of a tall business building.
Was a bit surprised that the Muslim call to prayer was still loud, even though the noise of the traffic and crowd outside was overwhelming.
According to Feng Shui
Some parts of Singapore will be surprising. The city is probably “too much to the East”, at least when coming from Europe, so the tradition that is appreciated here is the one that we only come across from time to time and do not really know that much about, maybe even take lightly.
Just imagine that you build the whole quarter according to Feng Shui standards! Those buildings were not the same in heights and looking from above, they formed a shape of the hand palm with its “fingers” (buildings) pointing to the sky.
The point is for the “palm” to concentrate all the energy within so the business could bloom. And yes, this is the business district.
Singapore is constantly being modernized and rebuilt. Locals told me that I would be surprised how much the city might change only in a year.
Some of them love it, some are against it, but still they say that this way “one can never claim to have really seen Singapore, no matter how many times he visits”.
That is exactly how I feel when ever I come across recent photos of the city. Firstly, I try to locate a building or a place but than I remember that this is Singapore we are talking about, everything that was there last year is just “an old news” nowadays. The city has probably changed so much since the last time I have visited!
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Little India in Singapore looks charming! I can’t believe that this represents only 4 percent of the population of Singapore 🙂
I know, it’s amazing, right! 🙂 Love the diversity of the city.
I miss Singapore so much! I haven’t tried the Indian food there yet though!
When I think about it, me neither! I couldn’t get enough of seafood, it was delicious. I’ve had a lot of Chinese, but also the best Korean dish there thus far. It’s still so vivid! 😀
Singapore is still on my bucket list. I love mixing cultures and it’s always amazing to see how different cultures come together. Always want to learn about the history.
You’re so right, it’s always interesting to witness that mixture of different cultures. You’ll love the city! 🙂
Singapore is a small country but it has a very diverse culture. It was like I already toured India and China in reading your post. Haven’t been to Singapore yet, but I’ve already heard a lot of good things about it.
Oh thank you, so glad you’ve enjoyed the post! 🙂 Yes, very unique place, I agree.
Such charming districts with so much colour. Always find this different culture places inside a city very interesting.
Me too, totally agree. Makes those strolls around the city unforgettable! 🙂
The first time we went to Singapore we stayed in Little India and it was a fantastic experience. I loved how it felt like its own country when just a few blocks away the city was entirely different. Thanks for bringing back some fun memories.
I know the feeling, that’s exactly right, you feel like being in a different country when entering another district. 😀 Thank you for stopping by!
World Travel Family (@worldtravelfam)
Those Chinese shop houses are gorgeous, we’ve seen them now in Phuket, Malacca, Georgetown, I’m yet to see much of Singapore. Will most certainly be hitting the Indian food hard.
Hehehe, sooo envious! 😉
Your quote that you can never truly claim to have seen Singapore no matter how many times you have been is so true. I’ve been a few times over the years and while I love it and there will always be some old favourites to revisit nothing is ever quite the same, you can stand in the same spot and have such a different experience, it is growing and evolving so much all the time.
That’s what amazes me about the city and what makes it more interesting. Looking forward to visiting again! 🙂 Thanks!
It’s a bit bizarre that this is the only neighbourhood in Singapore that I haven’t yet explored and I am an Indian! Haha…maybe that’s why 🙂
Reading your post does make me feel that I missed out on something interesting there. Next time I will surely make a trip there…would be an interesting one 🙂
Hehehe, it’s always like that – we don’t pay too much attention to our own culture when traveling, since it’s familiar. I’m sure that the Little India in Singapore sounds more interesting to me than it does to you! I mean, you know it all by heart! 😀
Now I’m craving Indian food and a trip to Singapore!
Hehehe, I know what you mean! 😀
Lillie Marshall (@WorldLillie)
I have become increasingly fascinated by Singapore, and this article is only making my curiosity grow. That’s great that you can hear the Muslim call to prayer, and it underscores what I’ve been realizing: that Singapore is incredibly diverse, and proud of its diversity.
So true, it’s famous for it.
Leah Walker (@L_e_a_h)
I spent a month in Singapore and loved the Sri Mariamman temple. Little India is where I learned that I love Indian food. It’s a great part of the city.
Really? So glad you liked the food there. I’ve enjoyed the neighborhood. 🙂
Singapore is an amazing city. That little factoid about FengShui mentioning how the buildings are shaped like a finger point to the sky was very interesting. Never noticed it when we were there.
It’s hard to notice it if you don’t know where to look and what to look for. But once you know about it, it all becomes so clear! 🙂
I loved Singapore when I visited, though I only grazed Little India, including the temple. The food was the best part for me, always a little odd (in a good way) to eat Indian food in SE Asia.
I know what you mean. 🙂 Thanks, Peter!