I admire people who go great lengths to preserve their cultural heritage. Migrating to foreign lands, incorporating to new societies but still maintain their distinct culture and traditions. I had a lot of Indian-expat buddies when I was a kid. Most of my “naughty-kid- adventure” memories were made with them and whenever I feel a little nostalgic, I go to Little India.
Thailand’s Little India is an area in Bangkok called Phahurat (พาหุรัด) – named after its main thoroughfare Phahurat Road. Most of the residents here are Sikhs who established textile trades a century ago. A lot of our Muslim and Hindu brothers live here too and operates halal or vegetarian restaurants.
King Rama IV built a new road and named it in remembrance of his daughter Princess Phahurat Minamai. Our Indian brothers settled here since then. Bangkok’s Little India’s landmark is a beautiful Sikh temple Siri Guru Singh Sabha. Visitors can take a boat on the Chao Phraya River and get off Memorial Bridge Pier. Or take Bus No. 1 or 7. It can also be reached by foot from nearby Chinatown (Yaowarat).
Indonesia’s Little India is an area in Jakarta where Baru Besar Selatan Road runs through. You’ll find yourself in this huge maze of shops and stalls where you’ll find typical Indian stuffs. This is where a worship center dedicated to Sri Sai Baba is located and we had the chance to visit the place in 2005.
Burma’s Little India is an area in Yangon along Mughal Road. I’ve never been here though but I will soon try to find the place.
Singapore’s Little India is located in an area where busy Serangoon Road runs through. Lots of temples and mosques are located here including the Sakyamuni Buddha Gaya Temple which was established by a Thai monk in the 1920s. Dunlop Street is where the backpackers head to.
Our Indian brothers first settled in an area called Chulia Kampong in the turn of the century. When the area became too crowded, they moved to a nearby location where the present Little India is standing today. Distinct landmarks such as the Abdul Gafoor Mosque and the Sri Srinivasa Perumal Temple are among huge malls and shopping centers. Visitors can take the MRT and get off Little India, Boon Keng or Farrer stations.
The Philippines’ Indian community is not congregated. There is no centralized commercial center like other Southeast Asian cities. But one district in Manila is slowly emerging as a Little India based on South Asian communities living there – Paco District. How to get there? Take a jeepney.
Malaysia has many Little Indias – 2 in Kuala Lumpur, 1 in Klang and 1 in Pinang. The famous Masjid India is in the vicinity of Jalan Masjid India in KL. It’s a walking distance from Masjid Jamek LRT Station. The one in Brickfields is along Jalan Tun Sambanthan. And the other one is along Jalan Tengku Kelana in Klang. Little Indias in Malaysia mostly caters to the Indian community because you can find Indian shops and restaurants all over the city anyway. Sarees, bangles, gold are best bought here.
Thank you, India.
*Are there Little Indias in Vietnam, Cambodia, Brunei and Laos? Pls. let us know! :-)
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