Updated August 2017 – new post layout + works added!
Many people who visit Singapore stop by Little India to get a closer look at its designated Indian culture district. While Little India is famous for fabric shops, spicy Indian curries and the amazing 24-hour Mustafa Shopping centre that sells just about anything you can think of, it’s also a surprising hotbed for street art in Singapore with a number of murals by famous international artists, largely thanks to the emergence of ArtWalk Little India, an annual arts festival that embeds artworks in the little crowded lanes of this colourful neighbourhood.
Here’s a detailed guide on where to find all the street art in Little India:
NAVIGATING LITTLE INDIA
Little India is a fairly large neighbourhood that you can spend a fair amount of time walking around in. I’ve split the map into 4 major areas near some major landmarks so it’s easier for you to navigate.
- Around Tekka Centre – Race Course Road, Chander Road, Buffalo Road, Belilios Lane
- Around Indian Heritage Centre – Upper Dickson Road, Dickson Road, Clive Street, Perak Road
- Near Mustafa Centre – Rowell Road, Hindoo Road, Veerasamy Road
- Around Jalan Besar – Horne Road, Hamilton Road, Plumer Road
Use the quick links above to navigate and read about more details about the artworks and artists, as well as where exactly to find some of the more elusive works.
Check out Singapore Street Art on Instagram for more places in Singapore to discover awesome street art, or my embedded Google Map below. If you are in Singapore, you can also check out my guides for Kampong Glam or the Bras Basah-Bugis district for more street art, or see my full line up of street art guides from Asia and around the world.
AREA 1 – AROUND TEKKA CENTRE
Tekka Centre has a pretty awesome hawker centre and wet market that has some cheap and good local street food – I suggest stopping by Tekka Centre to grab some lunch or take a drink
- Race Course Road
- Chander Road
- Buffalo Road
- Belilios Lane
RACE COURSE ROAD
Location: On the side of shophouses right behind the Little India MRT Station Exit E, near the junction with Kerbau Road
This piece is by artist Eunice Lim created for ArtWalk Little India 2017. The work harkens both to the name of the nearby Kerbau (that’s a Malay word for Buffalo!) Road and the reverence that Hindus places upon cattle, and if you notice there are some traditional Indian patterns on the cattle as well. This work is actually the second mural that Eunice has created for Artwalk Little India – the first piece could actually be found on the wall next to it (imho it’s a much less cramped wall so the work was more striking) back in 2015. Sadly, that work was removed the following year, but at least we have the sequel to look at now!
Keep walking down Race Course Road until you get to a small alleyway on your right, and you can’t miss this long mural in the alley way
Location: In the alleyway between Shophouse 48 and 50 along Race Course Road – it connects to Chander Road and is home to the Jasmine mural below
This 20m long mural is called A Ride Through Race Course Road, showing a race horse peeling through a crowded traditional Indian street market. It’s a visual story that tells you how this road got its name – because of the nearby Farrer Park area used to be a horse racing area. This community mural was painted by Jaxton Su with the help of migrant workers and students – but the style reminded me of Yip YC’s murals at first glance.
Location: Alleyway at 27 Chander Road that connects to Race Course Road and is also home to the Ride mural above
This large climbing Jasmine is another Artwalk Little India 2017 work, a tribute to the sacrifices of migrant workers who come to Singapore to work. Pop around the back and you’ll see a rather lifelike squatting migrant worker tending to the Jasmine plant – this is probably my favourite part of the work. You’ll notice that this is quite a busy alley – lots of people and workers taking their smoke breaks here!
Location: 6 pillars of Tekka Centre on ground level facing Buffalo Road
Head over to the the famous Tekka Centre and look for the entrance to the carpark along Buffalo Road – that’s where you will spot these lovely collaboration works between Singapore’s TraseOne and Australia’s Haha aka Regan Tamanui is celebration of SG50 for a project called 50 Bridges in May 2015. Titled ‘Cricket and Classical’, quite apt given how both groups are huge cricket fans, and the Indian dancers really bring out the colour and flavour of the Indian culture. Haha covered the Cricket works while TraseOne did the Indian Classical figures.
Location: An alleyway leading behind the shophouses off Belilios Lane
Head over to Belilios Lane – it’s a busy area, but you can’t miss this very large piece by Psyfool which features various Indian tradesmen and their businesses in this area. How many trades do you recognise? There is the parrot astrologer who uses a parrot to pick fortunes, a garland maker who makes these fragrant flower chains, Kacang Puteh man who sells the street snacks, and of course the dhobis – washermen and women for which the Dhoby Ghaut area was named for!
There used to be a hidden work further inside the alley by Mojoko, reminiscent of old Indian cinema posters. Sadly as it’s a paste up work, it didn’t hold up to Singapore’s rainy weather very well and you can’t see it anymore.
AREA 2 – AROUND INDIAN HERITAGE CENTRE
The Indian Heritage Centre is a super modern and funky looking building with sharp edges and reflective surfaces, quite a large contrast to the weathered shophouses surrounding it. A very informative and interactive museum worth checking out if you want to learn more about the Indian diaspora in this part of the world.
- Upper Dickson Road
- Dickson Road
- Clive Street
- Perak Road
UPPER DICKSON ROAD
Location: 68 Serangoon Road, at the junction with Upper Dickson Road
These Indian dancers are not the easiest to photograph because of the location and pillars. You probably have seen Didier Mathieu aka Jaba‘s works if you’ve been to Kampong Glam – they are all over the side of Piedra Negra, although the style there is quite different from these works that he created for ArtWalk Little India 2017.
Location: An alleyway just past the Didier work above, near the junction of Serangoon Road and Upper Dickson Street
This work is a little bit more hidden, but you can find it in a little alleyway just past the Didier work above. This was done for ArtWalk Little India 2016 by Priyageetha d/o Diayalan. It was inspired by the artist’s grandfather who was a goldsmith, another traditional trade of the area.
Location: The green space along Dickson Road between Clive Street and Perak Road
Further down from the Upper Dickson murals, you should come across this open green space. At the time I saw it in mid 2017, there were lovely colourful buffalo statues (Eunice’s work perhaps) all around this mini park and lots of people were just sitting around and enjoying the art. On the shophouse wall facing this green space is this mural by an artist called Dyn, meant to put a face to a place that continue to hold on to traditions even in the face of modernism. She looks a little like she’s peeking out from behind those trees!
Location: 104 Dunlop Street, the cross junction of Dunlop Street and Clive Street, down the road from the Indian Heritage Centre
TraseOne’s work for ArtWalk Little India 2017 is this large colourful piece of an Indian dancer right smack in the middle of what feels like Little India’s busiest junction. I think it definitely captures the vibrancy of the area and is really eye catching! You’ll notice the colours and style are similar to his work along Buffalo Road, done 2 years prior.
Location: 12 Perak Road, Perak Hotel behind the Verge at the junction with Mayo Street
Most of Lithuanian artist Ernest Zacharevic’s works in Singapore are found in Kampong Glam, but you can find one of his earlier works from 2012 here at Perak Hotel – a cheeky little boy with a hundred dollar bill on a fishing line!
If you have a chance to go inside the Perak Hotel, you might also be able to spot some of his other works that you can’t see from outside – check out this photo album for more!
AREA 3 – NEAR MUSTAFA CENTRE
The famous 24-hour Mustafa shopping centre is the perfect spot for insomniacs or anyone willing to dig a little for a good bargain. Stuff here generally is a little cheaper than in other shopping malls in Singapore!
- Rowell Road
- Hindoo Road
- Veerasamy Road
Location: Alleyway connecting Rowell Road and Desker Road, close to Jalan Besar
The pedestrian stretch between Rowell and Desker Road are where you can see works by two prominent American street artists Elmac and Tyke Witnes AWR who were invited to put up their works during the Singapore Night Festival in 2010 – these are some of the older murals that are still around today, which is quite a feat, though that alleyway is a little more cluttered up with plants and people these days.
I first saw Elmac’s work in London and was blown away by it – he has a very distinct style that is great to see up close – only to be even more stoked when I found out he actually created a piece in Singapore! He uses actual people as subjects, and this is an Indian man he met around this area.
The more graffiti style my Tyke Witnes is quite different from the Elmac work, but it’s still impressive stuff and quite striking.
And here’s a peek at something that used to be along that alleyway as well in 2014 but is no longer there – a surprising series of fairytale related art that belonged to a place called Bellwethers Bistro just down the way from the Tyke Witnes work
Location: 11 Hindoo Road, close to junction with Serangoon Road, overlooking carpark
This portrait is of an iconic Tamil film star called Rajinikanth in his heyday (he’a bit older now) who is apparently a favourite of the working class folk and meant as a tribute by notable local street artist Zero to the migrant workers living in this area. This is yet another ArtWalk Little India 2017 work.
Location: 640 Rowell Road at the junction of Veerasamy Road and Hindoo Road
There are a bunch of different murals located in the void deck of Blk 640 Rowell Road, where the Jalan Besar Rowell Court Resident’s Centre is, but this one by Kyerule is my favourite.
AREA 4 – JALAN BESAR
This hipster neighbourhood is where you’ll find backpacker hostels and fancy cafes amidst a somewhat industrial area
- Plumer Road
- Horne Road
- Hamilton Road
Strictly speaking, I wouldn’t consider the Jalan Besar district a part of Little India, but it’s close enough to stroll over to and there aren’t any other notable street art works in Jalan Besar to talk about, so I thought I’d include them in this guide for now. These murals were commissioned by Guinness to launch their new Foreign Extra Stout and created by Illustration Studio MadebyBen.
Fun fact: Ang Ji Gao is Hokkien (a Chinese dialect) for Red Tongue Dog, the local colloquial name for Guiness Stout here in Singapore because the local distributor called Blood Wolfe had a bottle label with a wolf’s head emblem (with a panting red tongue!)
The murals can be found in 3 different streets in Jalan Besar:
Share your favourite street art works in Little India with me!
Check out Singapore Street Art on Instagram for more places in Singapore to discover awesome street art.
If you are in Singapore, you can also check out my guides for Kampong Glam or the Bras Basah-Bugis district for more street art, or see my full line up of street art guides from Asia and around the world.