When you exit at the Little India MRT station, you’ll smell its distinct ‘Indian-ness’. Indian men going to the temples in droves. Indian women in their colorful sarees. The smell of spices. The vibrant color of jasmine garlands. Bollywood music on full blast. No matter what camera or film you are using, Little India is one of the most cultural and historic districts in Singapore, it will certainly give your camera tons of amazing graphics and colors.
My boyfriend warned me about the exotic smell that I will be experiencing if I pay a visit to Little India. No offense to my Indian friends and I do respect their culture. It’s happy to see that despite so much culture difference, Indian, Malay, and Chinese people are all living in harmony here in Singapore and Malaysia.
When you exit the Little India MRT station, you’ll challenge your two senses, smell and sight. When you walk out of the station, you will see Indian men going to the temples in droves. Indian women in their colorful sarees. The smell of spices. The vibrant color of jasmine garlands. Bollywood music in full blast. The colorful signage of the shops.
Then, you look up at the road signs and begin to scratch your head – streets with names like Dickson Road, Clive Street, Dunlop Street, and so on. Why such English-sounding names in an Indian district?
After my research, these streets did not begin as an Indian district. The first settlers were Europeans who set up a ‘suburb’ here in the 1820s. The streets got these names because they were once homes to these colonial settlers. The architecture and design here are colonial influenced. The creative people has now painted them into vibrant buildings which all serve as eye candy.
Little India, Singapore – the cattle trade used to flourish here. So cattle traders from India were attracted to this area in the 1840s. As cattle rearing began to take root here, so did other economic activities. These drew many Indian immigrants to this area.
By the early 1900s, a distinct Indian community was formed. Meanwhile, the European presence faded.
Today, the street names remind us of the cattle trade that once thrived in Little India. Buffalo Road runs parallel to Kerbau (which means ‘buffalo’ in Malay) Road. Adjacent to these is Belilios Road, named after a prominent cattle trader from Kolkata.
The only buffaloes you’ll find here today, however, are sculptures in the Sri Veerama Kaliamman Temple.