Singapore Diaries | Little India

Little India, Singapore

Little India, Singapore

Little India, Singapore

Little India, Singapore

As our flights and hotel were booked via a British Airways January deal, we didn’t specifically choose to stay in the Hilton Garden Inn in Singapore. But I’m so glad that’s where we ended up as I’m not sure I’d have gotten to know Little India the way we did otherwise.

The hotel, a pretty ugly multi-floor building, did stick out of the surrounding area like a sore thumb. But every day, we got the chance to walk straight out of the air-conditioned lobby and into the hot, colourful streets of Little India. The hotel was right next to the Hindu Sri Veeramakaliamman temple (try saying that when you’re drunk) and I was just fascinated with this building. It was so interesting to look at; so much detail and colour. There was never a good time for us to go inside (although it’s free to do so) but we caught a glimpse in whilst walking past and it looked like the colour and intricacy continued inside.

Little India, Singapore

Little India, Singapore

Little India, Singapore

I have never been to India (one day) but Little India was exactly how I would imagine it to be. Hot and busy, vibrant and colourful. The smell of incense in the air. Beautiful street art. The most colourful houses you ever did see.  People sat on the floor, eating curry with their hands. Women in saris of every colour. Bikes everywhere. The sound of chanting prayers. Market stalls full of flower garlands, exotic fruits and patterned clothing.

It was a fascinating place. Not perfect by any stretch. A lot of Singapore felt very clean whereas Little India felt much more run down (we actually did see a dead rat on the street one day…). It was also the one place where I felt we got a lot of stares which could get a bit uncomfortable; we particularly didn’t like the tekka centre which felt very male-dominated.

But every day, as we walked those streets, I was struck by how it felt like this was where life was happening; just people going about their day-to-day business with no concern for entertaining tourists. It was a dream for people-watching, and every street had a new colourful building, new street art, new smells.

Little India, Singapore

Little India, Singapore

Little India, Singapore

Little India, Singapore

Little India, Singapore

There were a few times we found ourselves in the Mustafa Centre just round the corner from our hotel (I was struck down by a horrible cold/cough whilst we were away and was in desperate need of cough syrup a couple of times). It was the most manic shopping experience I have ever encountered but, now I look back, was an amazing way of experiencing the people living in Little India. I can remember being in the food area and being fascinated by the variety of Indian food available (combined with, slightly bizarrely, a whole section dedicated to Cadbury’s chocolate).

Little India, Singapore

Little India, Singapore

Little India, Singapore

Little India, Singapore

Little India, Singapore

One of my favourite experiences in Little India was on our very last day when we went to a restaurant called Lagnaa: Barefoot Dining. We had just had our hands/feet hennaed at a shop nearby, were pretty knackered from a week’s worth of exploring, and sad that we had to catch a flight home that evening. We sat outside the restaurant and ordered two mango lassis; it was the first time I’d ever had a lassi and I immediately fell in love with this traditional Indian yogurt-based drink; it was so good. When we were hungry, we headed upstairs without our shoes to sit on the floor and enjoy some authentic Indian food. I ordered a chicken korma and a peshwari naan; a favourite order of mine at home so I was intrigued as to how it would differ when cooked ‘properly’. The korma was an entirely different meal (green and much less coconutty) but still delicious. The peshwari naan was, again, very different; stuffed full of nuts and spices but so very tasty. We also tried gulab jamun – kind of like syrup-soaked dough balls is probably the best way to describe them. They were lovely, and I couldn’t help but order another mango lassi to go with. The whole place was super chilled and it was a really nice place to just sit and relax before accepting our holiday was over.

Little India had a distinct lack of tourist areas but I think that’s why I found it so interesting. At times, this meant that it wasn’t as accessible as other areas in Singapore but it also meant it was the most real, the most unapologetic and the most authentic.

Little India, Singapore

Little India, Singapore






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