Monday, September 7, 2009

Heritage Trail@Little India, where colour, music & curry come together...

The historic district of Little India is the traditional hub of the Indian community in Singapore. Under a 1989 plan to conserve Little India, buildings of architectural and historical significance were retained and restored, and the physical environment of the area improved. Here the 1st storey of the shophouses can only be used as shops or eating places. Outside these core areas, offices, shops, hotels, institutions and residences can be considered on all floors of the shophouses.
Today Little India is popular not only with the Indian community, but people of other ethnic origins, including tourists. Traditional businesses remain, such as goldsmiths selling Indian jewellery, eating houses serving Indian delicacies , saree shops and stalls selling garlands and sweets. These now strive alongside with newer establishments like boutique and souvenir shops.
This time, I started my walk from Zhujiao Centre or Tekka Market.

^ Zhujiao Centre - "Zhujiao" in Mandarin means "the foot of the bamboo shoots", reflecting the previous presence of bamboo clumps in the area. Zhujiao Centre was built by the HDB in 1981. It replaced the old Kandang Kerbau Market. The market still remains as a wholesale and retail market with more than 200 stalls selling fresh products. The 3 towers blocks are flats.

^ Little India Arcade @48 Serangoon Road - These 26 two-storey pre-war shophouses of the Art Deco style have been a focal point for the Indian community since 19th century. The buildings were originally 3 separate block with blacklanes. After restoration, the backlanes were turned into open-air passageways linking the shops, thus creating a bazaar atmosphere. Check out what you can see inside Little India Arcade.

^ left: traditional Indian sweets and deserts such as gulam jamun, paan and more

^ right: Indian arts and craft

^ get a henna tattoo done in minutes?

^ left: or try a traditional Indian face threading
^ right: saree fabrics

^ No.3 Campbell Lane - This 4-storey shophouses of the Art Deco Style used to house one of the earliest saree shops in Singapore. The shop was founded by P. Govindasamy Pillai, a patriarch of the Indian community and a well-known philanthropist.

^ Abdul Gaffoor Mosque, 41 Dunlop Street - This mosque was built on land leased by Shaik Abdul Gaffoor Bin Shaik Hyder in 1859 and financed through the lease of the shophouses he had built in the 1880s. It was completed in 1910 and decalred a national monument in 1979.

^ Kampong Kapor Methodist Church, 3 Kampong Kapor Road -The church was designed by Swan & Maclaren in the style of the Romanesque period in Italy, with a distinctive Spanish/baroque Dutch gable facade. Completed in 1929, it replaced an earlier church, the First Straits Chinese (Baba) Church in Middle Road, when the congregation grew too large.

^ Church of the True Lights, 25G Perak Road - This 3-storey building with an attic is of the Art Deco Style. Built in 1952 and restored in 1998, it houses a church serving the Foochow Chinese community. This unique sanctuary features a huge Chinese ideogram for the word "love" above the altar and Bible verses in Chinese on the pillars.

^ Sri Veeramakaliamman Temple, 141 Serangoon Road - This temple was built in 1881 by Bengali labourers on the site of an earlier shrine. It is dedicated to Kali the Courageous, a ferocious incarnation of Siva's wife and the goddess who destroyed evil and protects her devotees. The statue of the goddess was shipped from India in 1908. Since then a gopuram (entrance gate) has be erected and other statues added, including that of Lord Ganesh, the elephant God of Wisdom. During the Japanese invasion of Singapore, many devotees took refuge here.

^ 127, 129 & 131 Serangoon Road. These 3 units of 2-storey shophouses were in a derelict state until 1996. The original arches on the second storey had been bricked up into small rectangular windows, and the roof parapet walls with ceramic bottle balustrades were damaged. During restoration, these features were carefully reinstated and repaired.

^ Tan Tang Niah's House, 37 Kerbau Road - This bungalow was erected around 1905 by a Jewish cattle trader and later sold to and renovated by a Chinese family. In the middle of this late shophouse style building stands a staircase whose banisters are adorned with golden dragon heads.

^ No 3 to 33 Kerbau Road. This row of 2-storey shophouses is of the Art Deco Style. The Ground floors were once used as cattle-sheds. These units were restored by URA in 1998 as part of a pilot project to show the government's commitment to conservation.

^ left: Mustafa Centre

^ right: Serangoon Plaza
Little India never sleeps. You can shop in this huge Mustafa Centre that opens 24 hours a day, 7 days week! This shopping centre offers almost everythings. From fresh vegetables, meats, groceries to furniture, electronic products, apparels, stationery, car accessories and even jewellery. Some of the lowest fixed prices in Singapore are offered here but be prepared for a crush of people during sale season.
Off shots from Little India

^ Enter Cuff Road and follow your nose to one of the last spice grinding shops in Singapore. The betel nut-chewing spice grinders here (left) will grind spice mixtures or mill flour at your request. The shop is open from 9am to 6.30pm and is closed on Mondays.

^ Campbell Lane is named after Sir Colin Campbell, a British Administrator. In the old days, this was where cows were slaughtered for beef. Today, it is packed with shops and stalls selling Indian furniture, wood carvings, vegetables and fresh flowers.

^ Watch the garland makers weave their red, yellow and white creations from roses, marigolds and jasmine. These colours symbolize love, peace and purity. On the religious days, ladies adorn their hair with flowers.
^ spices and curry powder. You name it, they have it.
^ Goldsmiths are well-respected by the Hindus as they are the image-makers of the gods. To the Indians, elephant hair is believed to bring good luck and it is often found embedded in gold rings.
^ clothings and sarees...
^ or get your fortune told by this parrot astrologist
^ "Teh Tarik" or "pulled tea - watch how it is prepared.
It 's time for LUNCH. Try some of these Indian food at the Indian restaurants. They are great!
^ left: chapati
^ right: masala thosai
^ left: poori
^ right: thosai
^ left: thosai
^ right: masala
^ left: types of gravy
^ right: Nasi Bryani
Happy Deepavali to all Hindus!!!
(15 Nov 2009)

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