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The Indian enclave in the Brickfields neighbourhood is not only a feast for the eyes but for all the senses. The streets and alleys exude a fragrant aroma of sandalwood, spices, and garlands of jasmine and lotus flowers. Many food stalls serve typical South Indian and Sri Lankan dishes. There are also beautiful temples filled with Hindu gods. Eat, pray, shop in Little India, Kuala Lumpur’s most colourful neighbourhood.
The name Brickfields is a reference to the past when this neighbourhood manufactured bricks for the reconstruction of Kuala Lumpur. The original wooden city went up in flames during a major fire in 1881 and since then it has been mandatory to build in brick. Under British rule, this district was also the location of the railway depot. The railway workers who worked here were brought over by the British from South India. Many settled in the area around the depot and later became Malaysian citizens.
There is plenty of food in Little India. The popular ‘banana leaf’ restaurants are everywhere; this is where the main meal is served on a banana leaf. The menu includes delicious curries, with great options for vegetarians. Other delectable snacks are the vadai (savoury fritter-type snack) and stringhoppers (steamed noodles made from rice flour) – most food stalls have their own speciality.
Just like India, Little India in Kuala Lumpur is home to a blend of faiths and houses of worship. Churches, mosques, Hindu temples and Buddhist sanctuaries stand side by side. The most colourful building is the enormous Sri Kandaswamy Temple, a prime example of Tamil architecture. This temple serves as an important reminder that a large part of the original immigrants hailed from South India and Sri Lanka. This 100-year-old temple is the lively centre of many religious festivals and ceremonies.
The most important shopping street in Little India is Jalan Tun Sambanthan. Here you will find many small shops packed with large piles of saris and fabrics. While saffron is usually only sold in small portions, here it is sold in large bags, just like cumin and cinnamon. To shop for modern products, head to KL Sentral, the newest commercial hub in Brickfields. The centre is located in and around a former shunting yard.