Little India Brickfields, KL
Brickfields is many things to many people: a concentrated wedge of Indian culture; a bewildering smorgasbord of different worship houses; a haven of blind massage centres; the crossroads for commuters coming in from all parts of the country; a perfect study in contrasts. However you define it, one thing is in agreement: Brickfields is a vibrant community with a soul of its own.
Brickfields began as the centre of brick-making in the late 19th century, after a huge fire and flood swept through Kuala Lumpur in 1881. The double disasters took turns destroying the town’s wooden and thatched structures. Sir Frank Swettenham, British resident at that time, responded by ordering the use of brick and tile in the construction of buildings, thus summoning the town’s purpose into being.
The area soon developed as the nation’s main locomotive depot for the Malayan Railway during the colonial administration. The sights, sounds and colours of South Asia came to Brickfields along with the human capital brought in to work the railway and depot, which have since been transformed into KL Sentral, the nation’s transportation hub.
These days, old government quarters (The Hundred Quarters, built in 1905) can still be found around Jalan Rozario. As you walk along the roads and alleys, the smell of curries drift to entice passers-by, while popular Indian songs blast from family-run businesses that also seem to run round the clock.
In 2009, Little India was moved from the area surrounding Jalan Masjid India to Brickfields, in recognition of the township’s status as one of the pioneer Indian settlements in Kuala Lumpur, and its potential to further develop as a centre for Indian culture.
Visit the Vivekananda Ashram (1904), which is still used for spiritual education classes, prayer meetings and yoga. The Temple of Fine Arts (TFA) can be found closer to the river along Jalan Berhala. Famous Southern Indian restaurant, Annalakshmi, is housed in the TFA building.
Other notable attractions are the Sri Lankan Hindu Temple, Sri Kandaswamy Temple on Jalan Scott and the Buddhist Temple Maha Vihara. The Zion Lutheran Church (1924), St Mary’s Syrian Orthodox Church and Holy Rosary Church (1903), as well as the Madrasathul Gouthiyyah Surau, a mosque built in the 1980s catering mostly to Indian Muslims can also be found in the area.
These attractions can be visited through the Brickfields Guided Walking Tour, held every first and third Saturday, starting at 9.30am from the YMCA. Run by the Kuala Lumpur City Hall, Brickfields’ fascinating history is explained in detail through the walk.
Board the KL Monorail and stop at Tun Sambanthan station.
By Light Rapid Transit (LRT)
Take the Kelana Jaya Line and stop at KL Sentral station.
KTM Komuter: stop at KL Sentral station.
Express Rail Link (ERL): stop at KL Sentral station.
Many RapidKL buses pass through Brickfields. Check the RapidKL http://www.myrapid.com.my/ site for details.
• KL Hop-on Hop-off: Stop at Little India, Brickfields (station 11A). Check the KL Hop-on Hop-off site (http://www.myhoponhopoff.com/ ) for details.