Thursday, August 20, 2009

Enchanting Serangoon

Big changes are happening in Little India.

More than just Mustafa and foreign workers, it is now an enclave of arts spaces, boutique condominiums and hip eateries. Yes, along the side streets off the main thoroughfare of Serangoon Road, there is still the whiff of curry powder and the blare of Hindu music. But new entrants adding a comtemporary urban flavour have been popping up among the row of terrace shophouses. And such is the changing vibe with more new buildings coming up, inlcuding an 11-storey shopping mall and a hotel. Also adding vibrancy to Little India are niche art galleries, small musuems and hip eateries. Before we lost the original charm of Little India, let's stroll the streets for some old familar sites...

1. Sri Veeramakaliamman Temple (141 Serangoon Road)
Built as early as 1855 by Bengali labourers, this magnificent temple was constructed for the worship of Goddess Kali, the consort of Lord Shiva. Sri Veeramakaliamman Temple is thought to be the first temple in Singapore to venerate her. The goddess is often portrayed as having many pairs of arms and hands, each hand carrying weapons of destruction used to fight evil on earth.

Temple doors are covered with tiny bells. Devotees ask God to grant their requests by ringing the bells before entering. Inside, the ceiling is rimmed with statues of the many Hindu Gods while the main shrine housed a jet black statue of Goddess Kali, flanked by her sons Ganesha and Murugam.

2. Drinkz Connection (116 Race Course Road)
This drink wholesaler has been for 10 years, supplying to mini-marts, restaurants and workers dormitories. It opens to the public and prices are 10% cheaper than elsewhere.

3. Museum of Shanghai Toys (MoST) (83 Rowell Road)
This museum houses several thousand tin toys made in Shanghai during the 1910s to 1970s.

4. POST Museum (107 Rowell Road)
This comtemporary art space occupying two shop houses was opened 2 years ago.

5. Hindoo Road Shophouses
This road has 18 stated owned shophouses, some of which are rented to creative ventures including art gallery 'Your Mother Art Gallery' at No. 91 (picture on the right side).

6. Second-hand shops (32 to 39 Upper Weld Road)
These sell used electronic goods such as computers, friges and audio equipments.

7. Haniffa (118 Dunlop Street)
What started as a textile shop has grown to become a department store carrying a wide range of household item, toiletries and even gold & jewellery.

8. Coffee shop (40 Clive Street)
This is believed to be the only single story corner coffee shop in Singapore. More than 30 years old, it was popular amonf the retirees and taxi drivers.

9. Prince of Wales (101 Dunlop Street)
This hostel popular with backpackers also houses a pub and a beer garden.

10. Little India Arts Belts (Kerbau Road)
In 2001, the National Arts Council acquired a row of shophouses as part of its scheme to provide affordable spaces to srt groups and artists. Those housed here include Bhaskar's Arts Academy and Sri Warrisan Som Said.
Above left: Sri Warrisan Som Said
Above right: Bhaskar's Arts Gallery

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