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Singapore is home to an incredibly rich, diverse, cultural population, marked by neighbourhoods that celebrate these cultures. Alongside Chinatown and Arab Street, the city-state boasts a vibrant Little India located conveniently at the junction of the Downtown Line and North East Line, just outside the busy Central Business District. This colourful neighbourhood is best visited during Diwali, the festival of lights that takes place in late October or early November or Pongal, a South Indian harvest festival celebrated in mid-January. During these holiday events, Little India comes alive like no other – but be forewarned, the neighbourhood can get very crowded! However, at any time of the year Little India is known for two main things: shopping and food.
A walk around Little India is an assault on the senses, in the best possible way. Prepare for Hindi and Punjabi music to be blaring from each storefront as you stumble through an aromatic melange of spices, incense and flower garlands. Perhaps the most striking thing is the fashion on display in the neighbourhood. Although India itself has seen the emergence of Western fashion, here in Little India you will see women walking arm-in-arm, decked out in beautiful saris and ornate, gold jewellery.
If you’re looking to start your own collection of Indian fashion, the first place to visit, the landmark of Little India, Tekka Market, right above the MRT station facing onto Bukit Timah Road. Tekka Market is the behemoth of shopping offerings in Little India, famous for its giant wet market that sells all kinds of fresh and live seafood as well as an array of fresh produce. It is also known for its equally large hawker centre, that although specializing in Indian and Muslim food also has its share of cuisine from the rest of the world, and finally, an enormous collection of Indian fashion as colourful or subtle as any buyer could want. Tekka Market is an excellent place to start your Indian fashion journey due to its excellent selection and low prices.
If you are feeling more adventurous in your quest, cross Serangoon Road, which runs along the side of Tekka Market, towards the Little India Arcade. Here you will find a two level building with a narrow path, between rows of 1920s era shop-houses that boast shelves literally overflowing with a diverse array of clothes, handbags, silverware, jewellery and more. Not everything here is worth having but there are certainly treasures available if you’re willing to hunt for them.
On the other hand, if you’re feeling more up-market and want to venture into the world of gold jewellery, Serangoon will prove to be a veritable gold mine. This street is lined with stores that offer an array of 18k and 22k gold jewellery that range from very traditional designs to something more modern. The famous Indian brand, Joy Alukka from Kerala, has an outlet about one kilometre further down Serangoon near Lavender Street, or if you don’t feel like walking in the scorching heat, jump on the North East Line and travel one stop over to Farrer Park.