Little India is one of the most iconic districts of Singapore. The Little India Heritage Trail, launched by the National Heritage Board in January 2017, sheds greater light into the precinct’s rich past with 18 heritage markers highlighting more than 40 heritage sites.
Here are eight spots where you can uncover interesting Little India connections from the markers along the Heritage Trail.
1. Mahatma Gandhi Memorial: Connection with India’s First PM
The foundation stone for the Mahatma Gandhi Memorial at Race Course Road was laid by the first Prime Minister of India, Jawaharlal Nehru, in 1950. This was just two years after Gandhi was assassinated by a fanatic in New Dehli.
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2. Former Racecourse: Connection with Singapore’s First International Flight
In 1842, a racecourse opened at what is now Race Course Road. Besides being used for horse races, it was also used as a shooting range, golf course and an airfield where the first international flight into Singapore landed in 1919.
3. Former Tekka Market: Connection with Bamboo
The original Tekka Market was named after the Chinese words that described the clumps of bamboo that grew along either side of the Rochor Canal. After Tekka Market was demolished in 1982 (it used to stand where the present-day The Verge is located), the stallholders shifted to the new building across the street which is now called Tekka Centre.
4. Abdul Gafoor Mosque: Connection with Electrical Lighting
In 1928, the Abdul Gafoor Mosque along Dunlop Street, under the management of the Hindu and Mohammedan Endowments Board, became among the first mosques in Singapore to have electrical lighting installed.
5. Former KK Hospital: Connection with Singapore’s Second President
Dr. Benjamin Sheares, Singapore’s President from 1971 to 1981, was the Deputy Medical Superintendent at the Kandang Kerbau Hospital during World War II. He stayed on the hospital’s premises, providing maternity care to the women who delivered their babies at the hospital. The site of the Kandang Kerbau Hospital now houses offices of the Land Transport Authority.
6. Anguilla Mosque: Connection with Angullia Park at Orchard Road
Back in 1890, the Angullas, a prominent local Indian Muslim family, purchased the land at Serangoon Road where the Anguilla Mosque still stands. The family also owned a huge swath of land at Angullia Park along Orchard Road where Hilton Hotel and Liat Tower are now located.
7. Little India Arcade: Connection with Philanthropist PGP
The rags-to-riches story of P Govindasamy Pillai or PGP began with his arrival in Singapore as a poor stowaway in 1905. Through hard work, he turned himself into a successful businessman and is best remembered for his acts of philanthropy, including donations made to Hindu temples and other institutions. He once had a sari store and supermarket at the present Little India Arcade along Serangoon Road.
8. Foochow Methodist Church: Connection with Rickshaw Pullers, Coolies and Barbers
The Foochow Methodist Church can trace its beginnings back to 1897 when a German missionary reached out to rickshaw pullers, coolies and barbers from Foochow. The church’s present building at Race Course Road was completed in 1938 and damaged by a bomb during World War II.
Little India Heritage Trail
The Little India Heritage Trail brochure and map can be downloaded from the website, Root.sg. Later in the year, Bluetooth-enabled markers will also be piloted along the Little India Heritage Trail, allowing trail-goers access to additional content about Little India on to their mobile devices.