Spice-scented streets, speakers blasting out Bollywood pop-songs, and the riot of colours - that’s Little India for you, the very heart of the Indian community in Singapore. This district dominated by locals garbed in saris and turbans draws tourists with both its ambiance and clusters of shops bursting with goods is our first stop for our last day in Singapore.
Like Chinatown, Little India is best enjoyed on foot. We hopped off our double-decker hippo bus in Serangoon Road and immediately after embarking and within 3 minutes of walking, Mj is already greedily sinking her teeth onto Samosas – a spicy potato stuffed Indian pastry.
When you get to Serangoon Road with its eclectic vibrant atmosphere, you wouldn’t think it used to be an area for raising cattle and trading livestock. History has it that Europeans settled here in the early days (hence the street names i.e. Dunlop St., Campbell St, Clive St. etc) but some years after, these early settlers vanished and was replaced by an Indian community who were attracted to the area due to its ample grassland and abundant water supply.
Today the only traces of cattle you’ll find are those of statues and stones. The streets now are filled with colourful shop-houses selling ethnic jewellery, saris and salwar kameez, brassware, silverware, flower garlands, freshly grinded spices and of course Bollywood DVD’s.
Hippo tours offer a free guided walking tour of Little India and again, we decided against it. We just went on a leisurely stroll stopping every now and then for photographs and for MJ’s bangles-shopping spree. The leisurely stroll took a little too long and when we got to Sri Veeramakaliamman Temple it was already closed and wouldn’t open until 4pm. Sucks for us since we’re catching the night train back to Malaysia and did not have the time to go back to Little India.
After a quick and a rather disappointing stop at the temple, we retreated to the back alleys of Serangoon looking for lunch and later found ourselves in the backpackers’ area of Dunlop Street. A sign boasting of the best authentic biryani in town piqued our curiosity and made us duck in the cool comforts of the Bismillah Biryani Restaurant. Mj had an order of a fragrant and spicy plate of chicken biryani (which was too spicy for my uninitiated stubborn taste buds) while I settled for the hardboiled egg that came with the dish and the complimentary crisp papadom with some sort of garlicky-yogurty-ish dip which I must say was pretty darn tasty. While we haven’t tried other biryanis in the area and we have nothing else to compare it too, I’m taking the polished clean plate as a sign of its goodness.
I was in dire need of a spare battery by then and it’s just our luck that we could already see the crown of Sim Lim Shopping Centre, a six storey of shops specialising in selling mainly electronics and gadgets, and that’s where we’re headed next but not before passing by the beautiful Moorish architecture of Abdul Gafoor mosque.
HOW TO GET THERE: Take the MRT Northeast Line to Little India, this will deposit you in Racecourse Road, from there take a right and you’ll find yourself in the middle of Little India.