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Saturday, September 15, 2007

HOW TO GET TO LITTLE INDIA
IN SOUTHEAST ASIA







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.

Where are the Little Indias of our region and how can we get there anyways?


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 Indias2 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.


Our Little Indias have become an indispensable part of our social landscape. It’s a piece of their homeland brought to us by our Indian brothers. From yummy curry dishes to 4-hour Bollywood flicks. From cool fabrics to Tandoori chicken. From Aishwarya Rai to Biryani rice --


Thank you, India.


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*Are there Little Indias in Vietnam, Cambodia, Brunei and Laos? Pls. let us know! :-)

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9 Comments:

Anonymous said...

thank you for this info. you really know how to tickle people's patriotism. > Mr. Singh

Ahmed said...

Are you in Kel-El now bro?

재미 said...

Perhaps you should write about chinatown sometime!

Nam said...

I had a quick tour of Singapore's Little India last Friday. Very interesting indeed.

I have not seen Little India in Vietnam. Apparently, there was an Indian population of traders in southern Vietnam but they must have left before or right after 1975.

savante said...

We have a lil india in melaka too!

Preetam Rai said...

In Saigon, the closest I can think of is the Mariamman temple in District 1. In Cambodia and Lao the Indian community tends to congregate near the Indian eating places. I have not heard of a more organised little India as such.

M|O|N|G|K|O|L said...

Just like Preetam said, we don't have any Little India in Cambodia. The only sign of Indians here are mostly just restaurants only.

MischMensch said...

I use to go to the Little India in Singapore every week cos I think it is a part of Singapore which is not full of pretentious people until I got "durchfall" 2 weeks ago.

PS: I do not know what is that word in English lol. Food poisoning?

Schroedinger said...

you mean diarrhoea

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