As its name suggests, Little India is Singapore’s foremost Indian enclave. Its charm lies in the fact that many of olden-day trades can still be found by its roadsides, alleys and back lanes. Fortune-tellers and their parrots, flower vendors selling garlands of jasmine, kachang puteh (roasted nuts) sellers on pushcarts and street-side newspaper vendors are just some of the interesting sights to be found.
I didn’t manage to explore Little India in its entirety and basically only stayed in Tekka Centre and its vicinity, however there were already so many things to see and do. We met a friendly Indian couple running a clothing stall and there we bought a few beautiful skirts imported from India. They were very helpful and even recommended another stall where we could get some other items we were looking for. Their hospitality and warmth made our experience in Little India a very memorable one.
My friend and I also got henna tattoos on our hands for $5. The henna artists were very skillful and finished drawing a complicated flower pattern in just 5 minutes. A great alternative for fickle people like me who can never get permanent tattoos because we’ll get bored of them after a week.
If you are searching for cheap and lovely Indian saris, skirts or tops, Tekka Market is the place to go. After enjoying some delicious biryani for lunch at the hawker centre, snake through the winding lanes of shops on the second floor selling intricately patterned cloths for very affordable prices. Visiting Mustafa is also a good idea for anything and everything. From electronics to clothes to all kind of foods, Mustafa gives you the ultimate grocery shopping experience.
Explore the many back alleys, stroll down the colourful line of shophouses, get yourself a henna and embrace the cheery and bustling atmosphere. This is one of the few places left in Singapore that has largely retained its culture. Exploring the nooks and crannies of Little India is the closest you are going to get here to exploring India itself. But if you don't fancy the exoticism, I wouldn't recommend this place for you.
It is in these side streets that some of the true delights of the place can be found. Wonderful eateries, including exceptional vegetarian food, delightful, whimsical shops selling everything from sewing machines to saris.
And of course, you could always end up at Mustafas. 24 hours of uninterrupted crowds, with hundreds of shoppers struggling through tiny, crammed, aisles to buy incredible arrays of goods at good prices.
And of course there are many temples, and a Methodist Church, if that is what might help more.
Always a little chaotic, always a little less than pristinely clean (but how does that differ from Chinatown?). And full of Indians. Friendly Indians.
It is a great place to visit. Chinatown? Kampung Glam? Geylang Serai? Little India? All marvelous microcosms of the races and peoples they represent, and all set in a polyglot morass of excitement and colour. Great.
Little india is somehow a contrast to other places in Singapore. Relatively cheap shopping-Mustafa centre is a must visit, you can find almost everything there. From souvenirs to clothes, to rugs to little gadgets. You name it.
Do note that unlike other parts of Sg, Little India is not that glamorous, not that clean too, and there's this smell , its unpleasant but I wouldnt go so far as to say that I hated it.
P/S: If you dont like crowds, stay away.
What I don’t like in this place however is the crowd. The place is always packed with so many people and the crowd is not at all pleasant. There seem to be a lot of rough people at this place. There is pushing, loud talking and that distinctive smell everywhere. It is quite awful but I find it bearable in frequent visits.
With Indians swarming in Singapore, this place might be a home away from home to most of them. Aside from they get to meet their fellow Indians they can also enjoy the various Indian Restaurants around the area.
You must come visit Little India for the freshest spices, incredibly affordable yet fresh vegetables, great spread of Southern and Northern Indian cuisines, fresh meat selection and products from India such as turmeric soap was an exotic find for me (it has great effect on fragile skin).
Be warn if you are coming on weekends as parking is the most challenging task and then you will face the challenge of elbowing your way through the crowd of local and foreigners.
Shopping here on weekdays evenings is more enjoyable as people will be more willing to serve you and bargaining at some street shops will work better. Not forgetting Mustafa has recently been renovated and it opens 24 hours.
Next is the shopping, should you walk down Tekka Street, there is a jumble of cheap mama stores and barber shops. The entire street itself is a shopping district famous in Singapore.
It is also advisable to avoid this area especially during the weekends. I was invited by an Indian colleague to his wedding ceremony in an Indian temple there on a weekend. I really regretted that I had not found some simple excuse to not attend the ceremony.
It was relatively easy to find a car park but it was a nightmare navigating the streets to reach the temple. It was so crowded and the crowd totally had no concept of personal space, they would come so close to you to make you feel uncomfortable.
Because my old church is near Little India, I had the unfortunate luxury of being shoved about by these black sheeps every now and then. As a result, many locals avoid Little India because they can't stand their rowdiness or in some cases, smell.
The scene that greets you when you look out the bus window along Little India at night was also discouraging and straight outta a horror movie - waves upon waves of Indians jostling on the sidewalk. Which prompts you to ask yourself the inevitable question - If they are this pushy inside a cramped bus, how much worse is it goin to get out there?
I attempted to answer that question by hurtling myself into the thick of it one Deepavali season. Actually, I was with two friends and we were all curious whether we would have any interesting experiences at the end of the day. However, because we arrived at about 8pm on Deepavali eve, most of the crowd had already gone home together with their shows and stalls. It's a failed mission, though we did catch some traditional roadside snacks and over-exuberant Caucasians in partying costumes.
Then again, there's always a reason for me to go there in the weekdays. The FOOD. Little India is known for its Indian cuisine. We have Prata shops, briyani shops, chappati shops, fish head curry, restaurants, the famous teh Tarik, tekka market and so much more. The second you set foot into tekka market, the smell of food will lure you in. The Prata, oily yet so crispy. The briyani, with such fragrance in its rice that it makes flowers jealous, and the gravy, hours of preparation just for that exquisite spicy yet smooth taste. Just thinking of it makes my mouth water.
I'm off to little India now infact.