Telok Ayer Street, which is a part of the 19th century Chinese district, links Market Street to Anson Road. In Malay, Telok Ayer means “bay water.” The Chinese immigrants named it as nan wan or "southern bay." It was also the part of the city that became an abode of immigrants from China and India in the 1820s. As a result, lots of religious buildings and Chinese cultural centers sprang up here during the course of the time. This area throws light on the culture, religion and civic life of early Chinese immigrants settled in Singapore.
Al-Abrar Mosque and Nagore Durgha (Nagoor Dargah) shrine was constructed by the Indian Muslims also migrated to Singapore from South India.
The Cantonese immigrants also thronged the area and erected Fuk Tak Chi Temple on the eastern side of the road.
The Hokkiens tribe from Fujian province, China also migrated in the 19th century and built several shrines to offer thanks to the supernatural power for their safe journey from China. The Thian Hock Keng Temple is one such example. The Christian settlers built Telok Ayer Chinese Methodist Church.
Development of a bustling business center
The heavy immigrant activity in this area and the adjoining areas such as Smith Street resulted into the development of a busy business center. The inception of Hakka Association Hall was a step in this direction. It also saw some of the tragic episodes during this process of immigration, such as proliferation of slave trade in the area. In fact, many of the Chinese immigrants were brought to Singapore as slaves.
A bustling tourist area, Telok Ayer Street is the original waterfront of Singapore. It is also the paradise of food lovers. The prominent food outlets in the thoroughfare and surrounding areas include Amoy Street Food Center, Leo’s Espresso Bar, Ponti Wine Cellars, Good Morning Nanyang Café, Hill Street Fried Kway Teow, Gayatri Restaurant, and Hong Kong Street Family Restaurant Bedok. The other tourist attractions at Telok Ayer Street are given as follows:
Lau Pa Sat
The Lau Pa Sat Festival Market, which was previously known as Telok Ayer Market, comprises of several food stalls serving delicious barbecued seafood and exotic local dishes including “satay.”One of the oldest food markets in Singapore, it’s the heaven of food lovers.
Known for its socially relevant plays, Teater Ekamatra is a modern Malay theater. Though, the performances are not just in Malay language, you may call it the international voice of contemporary local market and Malay culture.
Thian Hock Kheng Temple
Singapore is referred to as the settlement of Chinese immigrants, who came from the sea route. That is why the Chinese constructed a seafarers’ Temple in 1821 and named it the Thian Hock Keng Temple.
Fuk Tak Chi Museum
Fuk Tak Chi was initially constructed as a Cantonese temple in 1824. To preserve the heritage of the early Chinese immigrants and to showcase their artifacts, it was converted into a museum in 1998.
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