Map: Little India Temples

Walking up Serangoon Road, away from Sungei Road, you’ll see a small side street on your right, Hastings Road. On the corner sits the (1) Little India Arcade, a series of restored shophouses filled with souvenir and sari shops. It’s a great place to find small trinkets, Indian CDs, and traditional Indian clothing.

Cross Serangoon and head up the road and you’ll see Buffalo Road on the left. The (2) Zhu Jiao Centre sits on the corner, filled with some of the best Indian curry and vegetarian hawker food stalls. The area is aptly named: it used to be a buffalo holding pen and slaughterhouse. Continue up Buffalo Road almost to the end and turn right on tiny Chander Road that leads to the right. On the corner, on the right you’ll see (3) 37 Kerbau Road, an historic house built in 1900 by a Chinese businessman named Tan Tang Niah, restored in 1990 by the government, it’s a great example of houses the wealthy Chinese owned.

Almost directly across the street on Chander, on the left, you’ll see the (4) Shree Lakshminarayan Temple. This Hindu temple is dedicated to Lakshmi, the incarnation of the goddess Kali. It’s distinctive because of its garish red domes. Keep walking up Chander to Belilios Road and turn right. If you’re hungry for Indian food, many of the stalls and restaurants you see along the way serve hearty curries and dahl, served in small servings on traditional banana leaves.

At the end of Belilios and the corner of Serangoon on the left, you’ll see the gates of the ornate (5) Sri Veeramakaliamman Temple. Completed in the 1880s, it is dedicated to the goddess Kali. You can walk into the worship hall to study the paintings and sculptures representing the thousands of Hindu gods and goddesses. Just remember to wear pants and to remove your shoes before entering.

After you have turned left on Serangoon and keep walking up, you’ll pass several (6) gold shops. Indians—including Singaporeans of Indian heritage—buy gold to show status. The Indian community in Singapore is one of the most traditional: many women still wear the dot on the forehead designating marital status.

From the corner of Belilios and Serangoon Roads, walk up eight blocks to the (7) Sri Srinivasa Perumal Temple on the left. This is the temple where Hindu faithful begin their Thaipusam (usually held late January) procession to a distant temple about two miles (3.22 kilometers) away on Tank Road. Devotees erect heavy steel frames called kavadi adorned with feathers and flowers, anchored into the skin with hooks and spears. The festival is to give thanks for good luck, or to pay penance for “sins” committed during the past year.

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