The tasty food, historic craft and spiritual retreat at the Little India area in Singapore attracts visitors from across the globe. The Heritage Trail package consisting of Mobile App and Trail Kit has been developed to add more excitement for little India visits. Pay 29 Singapore Dollars (SGD) to download an app created for IOS, Android at App Store, Play Store or Littleindia.com.sg and you can have a self -guided tour of Little India, with memorable rewards and huge discounts.
With a history that dates to as early as 1800s, located near the Serangoon River, ‘Little India’ began initially as a colony that was set up by Indians who came to Singapore as prisoners and labourers’ brought from villages in India during the British Raj. The convicts and labourers chose to stay back when the British left the Southeast Asian peninsular and began this little colony called Little India. Retaining Indian culture and roots the colony flourished and contributed immensely in building the present day Singapore. Apart from building churches, hospitals and buildings many temples reflecting Indian tradition have been built by the community.
Another contribution to Singapore by the Indian community that is worthy of mention is that the name ‘Singapore’ was coined from the Sanskrit words ‘Singha Pura’ meaning ‘Lion City’.
On the launch of the mobile App, Organiser correspondent R Guru Prasad met Rajkumar Chandra (RC), Chairman of LISHA, at his association office in Singapore, to learn more about the innovative concept to preserve and spread Indian culture.
- Little India is already popular among tourists but what prompted your association to develop a mobile app to further influence tourists?
RC: No doubt, Little India is a popular tourist destination in Singapore. Apart from visitors appreciating art works, enjoying tasty food, witnessing flower garlands and praying at Hindu Temples, we noticed a gap and that was the necessity to educate visitors about the essence of Indian culture and also to create more opportunities for business community in the area.
- How does Heritage Trail Package works?
RC: The package invites visitors to “experience a slice of history”. Visitors pay 29 SGD to download a mobile app to get interactive map, videos, photo galleries, audio commentary covering area”s history, cultures and business. The Trail kit contains free vouchers which can be redeemed at participating shops.
- How will the mobile app help tourists?
RC: Mobile app eliminates the need to hire an agency or guide which costs more than 30 SGD per person. The app will make it easier for the tourists to move around entire Little India area. The idea behind the app is to get visitors to spend more time exploring the historic district. Mobile app is highly useful for visitors coming in groups or with their family. Using the app they will get back free merchandises and genuine discounts offered by participating shops. For example, initially tourists will have to spend 29 SGD to download the app, but if one calculates the returns they will get from various shops, they recover more than what they paid for downloading the app.
- Can you elaborate more on vouchers?
RC: By presenting vouchers one can observe Traditional Indian Flower shop and Garland Weaving which is part of Indian culture. First hand information about why banana fibre is used to weave flowers into strands or garlands (banana fibre holds the flower stalk delicately and it keeps flowers fresh longer) can be learnt through live demonstration. And at the end visitor becomes entitled for a free garland. Similarly Henna Tattoo demonstration can be viewed followed by free Henna tattoo. At the Traditional Spice Shop, the app users can touch and smell the varied spices and also receive their free spice pack. They can also present the voucher at participating shops of Traditional Indian Goldsmith and can avail 1 Gem stone free plus additional 10 (SGD) discount on the purchase.
The voucher comes in handy when visiting Sri Veeramakaliamman Temple situated in Serangoon Road, with 30 minutes free guided temple tour. A guided tour for 30 minutes is available for app users who visit Abdul Gaffoor Mosque.
The voucher scheme entitles app user to one vegetarian meal-Lunch or Dinner. Finally all the app users receive a Little India Souvenir from Handicraft Shops upon successful completion of Heritage Trail.
(While the correspondent was speaking to Rajkumar, there were many phone calls and walk-in visitors requesting him for entry passes for attending Diwali celebration programs)
- Is there a strategy behind launching mobile app close to the Diwali celebrations?
RC: Yes. We have spent 5,000 (SGD) to develop the app and intend to spend 20,000(SGD) to market it. Since we are having Deepawali Celebrations at Little India beginning September 12 to November 2, we are launching the app now to synchronise it with the mega Diwali celebrations.
- How is your association geared up for Diwali celebrations?
RC: Singapore government has given a contribution of one million Singapore Dollars to decorate entire Little India area with lights. The Street Light-up stretches from Selegie Road covering the entire Serangoon rooad (from the junction of Sophia Road to Lavender Street) and Race Course Road.
Last year 1.6 million tourists visited Little India during Diwali season and this year with the innovative measures like mobile app, more than two million are expected to visit.
To showcase Indian cuisine by demonstrating how traditional and fusion dishes are prepared, Chefs will be flown down from India for this purpose and a sampling platter will be offered for visitors to savour the dishes apart from the splendour of colours in the form of delicacies, decorations, sculptures, traditional apparels relating to Indian culture and tradition at Little India.