Brickfields | Little India
Little India is a picturesque, if diminutive quarter of the city, which is situated close to the downtown area. As the name would suggest, its is populated by expatriate Indians, who comprise one tenth of Kuala Lumpur’s total population. Now a vital part of the Malay capital, the Indians have brought their original culture, including unique temples, inimitable cuisine, and traditional clothing into Kuala Lumpur's everyday life.
Little India was originally situated in the city center, near to Jalan Tunku Abdul Rahman Street, where the first Indian immigrants to the country had settled. However, in 2009 the country’s prime-minister decided to relocate the ethnic quarter to Brickfields – one of the oldest districts of Kuala Lumpur, which actually has an interesting history of its own.
In the late 19th century, the city suffered large-scale fire that was immediately followed by a severe flood. As a result of these disasters, most of the district's buildings, which were predominantly made of wood and straw, were totally destroyed. When restoration works began, the local authorities ordered the construction of the new houses to be from a more more robust material – brick. Determined to help the city, and at the same time to get a decent profit for himself, the Chinese businessman Yap Ah Loy, who actually did a lot to turn Kuala Lumpur into a thriving commercial center in his time, bought a plot of land from the municipality and organized brick production there. Thanks to his efforts, the area was named Brickfields thereafter.
In later years, the main depot of the Malaysian railway, where immigrants from India and Sri Lanka used to work in great numbers, was located at Brickfields as well. Many of the railway workers decided to settle nearby as not to spend too much time getting to the workplace, with many of them living in quarters adjoined to Brickfields. This led to the establishment of the local Indian community in the region.
Modern day Little India is notable for the great number of temples representing a wide variety of religions: pagodas neighbor mosques, Lutheran churches stand near to Catholic cathedrals, while Hindu temples are dotted around the area. Brickfields is often nicknamed as the ‘sacred place,’ purely because of its massive accumulation of religious buildings. One of the most popular temples of all is the Hindu Sri Kandaswamy Temple, which was built for Sri Lankan immigrants back in 1902. This structure embodies the best traits of Sri Lankan architecture. Other notable temples in the areas are the Buddhist Maha Vihara, Sri Veera Hanuman and Sri Sakthi Karpaga Vinayagar, all of which are situated in Jalan Berhala Street.
However, most tourists associate Little India with trade. Guests can can buy all kinds of exotic spices and flavours, ethnic decorations, clothes, copper oil lamps, aromatic sticks, dishes, and exotic sweets - all of which is displayed to the constant accompaniment of hypnotic Indian music. Brickfields’ streets feature an abundance of souvenir, textile, jewelry, food and other shops, as well as affordable hotels and cheap restaurants offering traditional Indian dishes.
Little India also has a genuine Indian Theater, where Bollywood hits are played.