On this Little India walking trail discover gorgeous temples, bustling streets straight out of Delhi and a vibrant hawker centre.
How to get to Little India
Little India is on the northeast side of the city centre. The best MRT station is Little India MRT, conveniently at the edge of this district. Little India MRT is on both the Green Central Line and Blue Downtown Line. For this walking trail through Little India, try to exit at E or C. There are also many buses that stop just next to Little India MRT.
Tips for Little India Walking Trail
- The Indian Heritage Museum is open 10-7 Tue-Thu, 10-8 Fri-Sat, 10-4 Sundays & PHs, closed on Mondays.
- To shorten the route, you can go straight from Stop 4 to Stop 11.
- For an extension, head to Kampong Glam, just across Rocher River to the south, ten minutes walk away.
- Early mornings and late afternoons or evenings are good times to walk this trail as Little India can get hot and crowded in the middle of the day.
Attractions on the Little India Walking Trail
On this walking trail through Little India, you’ll see the main sites and attractions of Little India:
- Tan Teng Niah House
- Sri Veeramakaliamman Temple
- Indian Heritage Centre
- Abdul Gafoor Mosque
- Sri Srinivasa Perumal Temple
- Sakya Muni Buddha Gaya Temple
- Leong San See Temple
- Sri Vadapathira Kaliamman Temple
- Petain Road Shophouses
- Mustafa Centre
- Kampong Kapor Methodist Church
- Tekka Centre
If instead you prefer a guided tour around Little India, check out this great guided walking tour on Klook*.
History of Little India
Serangoon, the central thoroughfare of Little India, was one of the earliest roads in Singapore, mentioned in 1828 as leading across the island. Farms and cattle trading grew up around the road and many Indians were employed in these trades, as well as being port labourers. Lime and brick kilns were built in the district, employing more Indians. In the 1860s brick kilns were shut down but the cattle trade prospered, with the animals used in the transport sector to pull heavily-laden carts.
Tekka market was built in 1915 and concentrated on selling dairy products such as milk and yoghurt but soon expanded to contain a wide variety of fresh food. During the Second World War parts of Serangoon Road were bombed, but much survived. After the War, the area was urbanised and many more houses were built, including tall Housing & Development Board (HDB) flats in the 1970s.
In the 1980s the area was renamed Little India and is today one of the most atmospheric parts of Singapore.
Little India Walking Trail Route
This walking trail starts from Little India MRT station. Immediately behind Little India MRT Exit E, you’ll see colourful street art of cows amusing themselves on a large wall.
Directions: From Little India MRT, head along Race Course Road in the direction (northeast) away from the large Bukit Timah Road.
There used to be a horse racing track on the left here. The first point of interest, a lane with street art, contains a mural with horse races to commemorate this fact.
The street art is down a small side street to your right, about 200 m from the metro, between house numbers 48 and 50.
Directions: Continue through the lane with street art until you come out on Chandler Road where you turn right.
Along Chandler Road you’ll see Shree Lakshminarayan Temple on your right, a Hindu temple with a unique geometric pattern design.
Directions: On your left you’ll now see the colourful Tan Teng Niah House, the first stop on this walk through Little India.
1. Tan Teng Niah House
The former house of Tan Teng Niah is the last remaining Chinese villa in Little India, built in 1900. Tan Teng Niah was a businessman who owned factories that processed sugarcane to make sweets. He burnt the leftover hulks of the sugarcane to dry rubber which he then sold.
Originally, Tan Teng Niah House was not colourful and many other buildings surrounded the house. Only after the restoration in the 1980s did this house get its colours and become the fantastic icon it is today.
Today there are some shops and cafes occupying the lower floor, but otherwise you can’t visit the inside and the main attraction is taking photos of the strikingly coloured outside architecture.
Directions: From the villa, continue left down the street until Belilios Lane, where you turn left. You should already be able to see a large, mainly blue mural painted on a wall down a side street. Step down the side street to see the full mural.
This mural is of traditional occupations in Little India.
Directions: Return back to the corner of Belilios Lane and walk down Kerbau Road, with its elegant shophouses on the left. Cross the main Serangoon Road and head right. You’ll soon spot the pedestrianised Campbell Lane on your left.
Campbell Lane is a wonderfully evocative street. Brightly coloured Indian stalls line the road, selling vegetables, fruit, marigolds and antiques, some blaring out Bollywood music, and incense wafting through the air.
Directions: Continuing down Campbell Lane, you’ll soon see the Indian Heritage Centre on your left.
2. Indian Heritage Centre
Key Information: Opens at 10 am. Closes at 7pm Tue-Thu, at 8 pm Fri-Sat and at 4 pm Sun & PHs. Fully closed on Mondays. Free for Citizens and Permanent Residents. $8 for adults otherwise, with reductions for students, seniors and children. You can buy tickets online in advance*. Plan to spend an hour or two in the Indian Heritage Centre.
The Indian Heritage Centre (Website, Tripadvisor Reviews*) is the place to learn more about Indian Heritage. The museum contains a permanent exhibition about the history of Indians in Singapore, as well as temporary exhibitions which might focus on specific Indian groups.
If you’re here in the early morning, it’s a good idea to return to this stop when you return to this area at the end of the Little India Walking Trail, so that you can enjoy the cooler air of the morning when walking outside, and return for some air conditioning when it’s hotter.
Directions: At the end of Campbell Lane turn left on Clive Street and take the first right on Dunlop Street. After about 150 m you will see the green and white spires of Abdul Gafoor Mosque on your right.
3. Abdul Gafoor Mosque
A previous mosque was built on this site in the 1850s. The Tamil Indian and Baweanese (from the small island of Bawean in Indonesia) communities worshipped here. These latter were heavily involved as grooms for the horses at the nearby racecourse.
The current building was constructed in 1907 by Shaik Abdul Gafoor and the old mosque was knocked down. The architecture is a fusion of Saracenic (Islamic, featuring onion domes and typical arches) and Neoclassical (inspired by ancient Greece and Rome). The mosque was restored in 2003, so appears pristine today.
We looped around the block to see all the different sides of this mosque. We couldn’t get a better view since it was partially closed because of Covid, but it was still beautiful.
Directions: After fully looping around the mosque, continue on Perak Street and then head left to walk up Dickson Road.
Near the top of Dickson Road, just before busy Serangoon Road, you can see a colourful tiled mural of Indian women and masked men on your right.
Directions: Turn right on Serangoon Road. Pass through busy little shops spilling out onto the five-foot ways and after 150 m you’ll see the next stop on the walking trail, Sri Veeramakaliamman Temple, on the opposite side of the street.
4. Sri Veeramakaliamman Temple
Sri Veeramakaliamman Temple is one of the oldest Hindu Temples in Singapore. Kali is the main goddess worshipped here, evoking the triumph of good over evil and an incarnation of Parvati, Lord Shiva’s wife. Early Indian migrants worshipped at a small shrine in this location, which was developed further over the years into the temple you see today. And today, as in the early years of Singapore, it is a centre of the local Indian community.
During the Japanese air raids of World War II, many locals sheltered in the temple, praying to Kali, the main goddess worshipped here, for luck. It seemed to work since the temple escaped the War completed undamaged.
Directions: The next stop on the walking tour is quite far away, 700 m along Serangoon Road.
Shortcut: If you’re feeling tired already, go straight to stop 11, the Kampong Kapor Methodist Church. From there head to the Tekka Centre, stop 12, and the end of the Little India Walking Trail.
Walking along Serangoon Road
There are a few minor points of interest to distract you on this walk along Serangoon Road, along with soaking up the atmosphere of Little India.
Before you reach Masjid Angullia (an obvious reddish mosque), take a small detour 100 m up Racecourse Lane. On this lane you’ll see an old Chinese Clan Association, set up to help new arrivals to Singapore. You can also spot the Mahatma Gandhi Memorial, built following the visit of the first Prime Minister of India, Jawaharlal Nehru, in 1950, though this isn’t amazing. The artwork on the hotel next door is more diverting.
Next, look out for the historic Masjid Angullia (Angullia Mosque) on the left. A merchant and philanthropist from Gujurat, on the west coast of India, built the original mosque here in 1890. A rebuild in the 1970s and renovation in 2020 meant the mosque looks as good as new today.
Eventually, you’ll see the next stop, Sri Srinivasa Perumal Temple, on your left.
5. Sri Srinivasa Perumal Temple
Sri Srinivasa Perumal Temple looks quite similar to Sri Veeramakaliamman Temple, with a lovely colourful gopura. It forms an intriguing contrast with the huge high rise buildings just behind it.
Explore Indian Heritage in Little India
- Visit the Indian Heritage Centre on Campbell Lane.
- Make sure you see at least one Hindu Temple.
- Stroll the streets of Little India to soak up the atmosphere.
- Try delicious Indian food at the Tekka hawker centre.
Directions: Walk along Serangoon Road slightly further and turn left on a narrow, pedestrian lane walkway, through a little gate just before a little outdoor gym and playground. The lane heads to Race Course Road where you turn right on this pleasant residential street. The next temple is soon on your right.
6. Sakya Muni Buddha Gaya Temple
Sakya Muni Buddha Gaya Temple is a unique, highly decorated monastery dedicated to the historical Buddha Sakya Muni (or Shakyamuni). A Thai monk founded this temple in 1927, and the design has a strong Thai influence. It’s a very popular Buddhist temple and has a huge statue of Buddha inside. The temple is open 8.00am-4.30pm every day and is free to enter (though restricted entry during Covid times).
Directions: Just down the street on the opposite side of the road is a Chinese temple, the next stop on this walking trail.
Great Socks to Keep you Going
A good pair of socks can make or break your hike. In the Singapore climate, go for something synthetic or thin wool for the best moisture wicking, and avoid cotton. Considering the hot climate, short socks are preferable. For longer walks you may want socks with good padding. I really like the padding of short no-show Balega socks:
Balega Blister Resist No Show Socks For Men and Women on Amazon*.
Check out the complete list of hiking gear needed for Singapore:
7. Leong San See Temple
While the former temple has a strong Thai influence, Leong San See Temple is very much Chinese and dedicated to Guanyin, a favourite Chinese Buddhist deity. Guanyin is the goddess of mercy and compassion and is a very popular figure of worship. The architecture of Leong San See Temple represents that of a Chinese palace, while the lucky red colour features prominently. The temple was built in 1917, though reconstructed a few times since then. Its name, Leong San See, means Dragon Mountain Gate.
In non-Covid times the temple is open 7:30am to 5pm, though you can’t enter if you are ‘sloppily dressed’ – I think this means no bare shoulders.
Directions: Walk down the narrow road opposite the temple, back to Serangoon Road. Turn left on this main road and soon you’ll reach the next temple.
8. Sri Vadapathira Kaliamman Temple
Intricate, beautifully painted carvings of Hindu deities cover Sri Vadapathira Kaliamman Temple. Like the first Hindu temple on this walking trail, it’s also dedicated to the goddess Kali, who triumphed over evil. Worship started in this location in 1870 and over time the community upgraded the temple from a simple shelter and shrine to the lovely building you see today.
Directions: Return in the direction you came along Serangoon Road. Where you previously headed off to Sakya Muni Temple, now turn left on Petain Road. Continue down Petain Road and soon you will see some lovely shophouses set back from the main road on your left.
9. Petain Road Shophouses
The Petain Road shophouses are some of the most well-preserved shophouses in Singapore. They are more elegant than some of the over-the-top flamboyant shophouses elsewhere, with their restrained yet pretty colour palette, use of ceramic tiles and delicate ornamentation.
This row of terraced shophouses was built in the 1920s-1930s in a synthesis of European and Peranakan styles. It was named Petain Road in honour of the French general who led many victories in the First World War. However, in the Second World War General Petain collaborated with Nazi Germany and there have been calls to rename this road.
Remember that real people live here so try not to disturb them as you sightsee. Keep noise levels down and be respectful of the neighbourhood.
Directions: Continue down Petain Road to a large road junction.
This road junction has a few nice buildings on it – an old blue house and the colourful Allenby House.
Directions: If you continue straight across the road and then loop around the block, you can detour to Thekchen Choling Temple.
Thekchen Choling Temple is a neighbourhood Chinese Buddhist Temple following the teachings of guru Rinpoche.
To Sam Leong Road
Directions: Back at the road junction, head down Jalan Besar in the same direction as the traffic. After 350 metres, turn right up the small Sam Leong Road.
Near the top of Sam Leong Road you’ll see some colourful shophouses with fabulously ornate balconies.
Directions: After the shophouses turn left, and almost immediately you’ll be outside two entrances to the Mustafa Centre.
10. Mustafa Centre
Mustafa Centre is a huge store selling everything, and everything at good prices. It’s a bit like a mall, but where everything is the same shop and there are no empty corridors – everywhere is jam-packed with stuff. It was open 24 hours a day before the Covid pandemic. It’s now open 9:30am-11:30pm every day. Whether you want toothpaste, a bike, a TV, or some carrots, Mustafa Centre is the place for you.
I particularly enjoyed the spice section of the supermarket, which itself is bigger than most supermarkets.
Directions: Leave Mustafa Centre from the middle of the store where you entered, on Kampong Kapor Road. Continue along this road and in 300 metres the next stop will be on the right-hand side of the road.
11. Kampong Kapor Methodist Church
The Peranakan community founded Kampong Kapor Methodist Church in 1894, though it only moved to its current location in 1930. It has since then been renovated many times to cater to a growing congregation. The construction of the nearby North-East MRT line in 2000 caused damage to the church’s foundations and cracks even appeared in the walls. Emergency engineering works stabilised the situation and you can still admire the elegant Art-deco style today.
Directions: Immediately after the church, turn right to walk up Cuff Road back to Serangoon Road. At this main road head left. You will soon be back near to where you started and will see the busy Tekka Centre on your right.
12. Tekka Centre
The final stop on the Little India Walking Trail is the Tekka Centre. The Tekka Centre contains a hawker centre specialising naturally in Indian cuisine, though with a fair share of Chinese stalls too. A large wet market behind the hawker centre sells everything from meat, fish, fruit and vegetables to nuts and beans. It’s a great place to have a cup of steaming masala chai and a curry. Alternatively, it’s a good place to enjoy a traditional southern Indian breakfast of idli (savoury rice cake) and dosa (similar to a thin pancake).
The Tekka Centre opens at 6:30am. Some market stalls close in the afternoon, though the hawker centre is still open for dinner. Closed on Mondays.
Directions: This is the end of the walking tour. To return to Little India MRT, head around to the back of Tekka Centre. Buses leave next to Little India MRT, or directly in front of Tekka Centre.
Little India Walking Trail by Night
Little India area is a worthwhile place to visit in the evening. Lights brighten up the temples and busy Campbell Street, you can eat dinner at the Tekka Hawker Centre, and Mustafa Centre is open until at least 11:30 pm. Another benefit is the cool evening air. During Divali, normally in November, there are extra lights along the main Serangoon Road and surrounding streets.
Guidebooks to explore more of Singapore
If you want to experience another Singapore walking trail, why not check out our Kampong Glam Walking Trail, which starts only 10-15 minutes walk away.
FAQS – Little India Walking Trail
Little India is known for its vibrant Tekka wet market and hawker centre, its many Hindu temples, and the colourful Tan Teng Niah House.
To get to Little India, take the MRT to Little India MRT stop, which is just next to Tekka Centre. There are also many buses that stop just next to Little India MRT station.