Little India Singapore
Gold Shops, Old Style Barbers and - What Else - Spicy Foods
Little India Singapore is the Indian - or rather Tamil - neighborhood in Singapore and essentially covers the area centering around Serangoon Road and Jalan Besar, about two kilometers (bit more than a mile) north of City Hall and the downtown area.
Like its counterpart Chinatown, it also is a living and working neighborhood, shows off prominently its old shophouses and has its shares of Hindu temples and decorations for the various holidays.
Sundays in Little India Singapore are a treat: hundreds, maybe thousands of construction workers from India, Bangladesh or Sri Lanka descend upon the neighborhood and the surrounding green areas are full of picknickers and people jawing away.
Unfortunately, they also leave alot of rubbish lying around, but, well, that's how it is, I guess.
Temples and Mosques
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The most prominent temple here is
dedicated to a companion of Lord Shiva and a destroyer of evil. The temple is a bit smallish but every bit as decorated as other Hindu temples in Singapore with some really dark and dangerous looking deities staring at you.
One really gorgeous mosque - if not the most gorgeous one - lies in Little India Singapore, the
Abdul Gafoor Mosque
with a beautiful cupola and 1001 Nights look to it.
It isn't the oldest around, only built in 1907, but the star-and crescent motifs are almost too much to bear and you have to pinch yourself a bit.
The Heart of It All - Serangoon Street
Walk along Serangoon Street and have a look at the many gold shops with their.
If you are adventurous, why not get a haircut at one of the barber shops where old men will finish your cut with a beautiful part to the side, pomade and real razor blades for those hairs on your nape.
Check out the shops with cheap and cheerful clothing of dubious quality, toys, reeeaaaly cheap watches and Hindu pop music.
Tekka Market at the end of Serangoon Street is a wet market (= fresh fish, fruits etc. gets hosed down, therefore wet), fun to go through and maybe stop to have some Teh Tariq, a frothy tea that is poured from a height into your glass and quite tasty.
Food and Drink
No matter where you go in Little India Singapore, you will find restaurants of all sorts and styles, often referring to themselves as 'veg/non-veg/northern/southern' Indian cuisine - hmm, I guess that means just about every type of Indian food from just about everywhere in India.
A lot of the places are not necessarily the cleanest - check around - but the food is mostly pretty good, and some of the stalls are extremely spicy.
Head over to Race Course Road for a whole variety of restaurants ranging from Punjab and Bengal food to more classic cuisine from India.
Many people like to go to the Banana Leaf Apollo
and chow down on - you guessed it - food eaten with your hands and served on banana leaves. The food is ok, the ambience is too, I guess, but you can find nicer Indian restaurants in Singapore in my opinion. Children really love it though - eat with your hands, yay!
restaurant with the aforementioned Bengali-Punjab touch quite a bit, while friends who live in the area have recommended
restaurant for its spicy, Tamil Chettinad cuisine from the south of India.
Little India Arcades, Back Streets and Mustafa
Little India Arcade is housed in a restored building from the 1920's and full of stalls selling knick-knacks, silks or Hindu deities to tourists.
The place is a real warren and very touristy, but hey, we are tourists in every country except one, right?
Might as well enjoy the sighs, smells and haggling!
One thing to do there in any case is to get a
by some of the various artists sitting there among the many colorful stalls.
They do their best work with traditional wedding motifs, but can also do a scorpion, bear, bamboo, or whatever else you might think of.
Beware: they try charge the pants off of you if they think you are a tourist and regularly ask for 15 or 20 dollars - outrageous. Take them down to 5 dollars at the most.
Walk around some of the back streets: you'll find shops selling ancient TVs, tires stores, a cultural center and a food stall all mixed up.
One place not to be missed is ittle India Singapore's Own Mustafa Shopping Center
where you can get EVERYTHING and at pretty low prices, too.
The place is not really posh, to say the least, but quite the experience and the prices can be the best in town.
Last and not least, Little India has some hotels and backpacker places at ok prices - of course nothing like the comfort and luxury of downtown hotels, but certainly an alternative.
This place seems to be the favorite of the budget crowd,
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