5 Interesting Sites to Visit on the Geylang Serai Heritage Trail

5 Interesting Sites to Visit on the Geylang Serai Heritage Trail

Walk along Singapore's Geylang Serai Heritage Trail to explore interesting historic buildings and places of worships. Here are some sights you should visit along the way!

Recently, I organised a heritage trail in Geylang Serai, the area which for so long had mystified me. It was once a fishing village, like the other parts of Singapore, and home to the Orang Laut (sea people). Over the years, this neighbourhood has become famous for being the place to satisfy your gluttony and infamous for being the Singapore’s only red-light district. I took the plunge to explore the narrow alleys of Geylang which has kept old world charm under the folds. The following are the most interesting sites that I believe every person in Singapore must visit.

1. Char Yong (Dabu) Association, Singapore

Image credit: Aditi Mittal

The Association was founded in 1858 by Chinese descendants hailing from Dabu county of Guangdong province. The purpose of this association was to ensure the welfare of the Hakka community back then. It now houses the Char Yong Gallery and Hakka Culture Study Room. The most impressive feature of the building that I found was the names of its founding members inscribed on the original stone tablets on the wall.

2. Nan Hai Fei Lai Guan Yin Monastery

Image credit: Aditi Mittal

It is hard to imagine such peaceful place exist in the middle of the bustling Geylang. Nan Hai Fei Lai Guan Yin Monastery, which is located in Lorong 27, was founded in 1923. Its structure resonates to the typical Chinese architecture style. The main deity of the temple is Guan Yin aka Goddess of Mercy. The monastery derives its name from the sacred mountain of China – Putuo.

The interesting thing I found was that it actually is a nunnery, its abbess is the oldest nun who has spent all her life there. The abbess was too kind to invite me for the vegetarian lunch which they organise on one of their sacred days. You too can join them in puja on full moon nights and witness for yourself the serenity of the place.

3. Pre-War Double Storey Terrace Houses

Image credit: Aditi Mittal

Shop houses are not uncommon in Singapore, but these along Lorong 34 exist since the early 1900s and were dominant till late 1930s. These 2-storey terraced houses have an attractive design with patterned tiles; the most important element of these houses I was told is the walkway below the house which was made mandatory to built for the convenience of pedestrians.

4. Former Queen’s Theatre

Image credit: Aditi Mittal

Located in Lorong 44, this Victorian-styled building looks eccentric in its surroundings, but it only adds to the charm. This building was built in the 1930s, and it is a cue that cinema was important for people even back then. It used to screen Malay and other foreign language movies. It was taken over by Shaw organisation in the 1950s and was eventually shut down in the 1980s. What remains now is the illusion of the old world charm.

5. Amitabha Buddha Centre

Image credit: Aditi Mittal

Image credit: Aditi Mittal

This centre practices Mahayana Buddhism which is predominant in Southeast Asia. The big prayer wheel in the centre has 156 billion mantras of ‘Om Mani Padme Hung’. Rotating the wheel once is equivalent to the 156 billion vocal recitals of this mantra.

The Amitabha Buddha Centre runs several courses for anybody who is interested in learning about Buddhism. You can also check their calendar for monk talks and various kinds of workshops they do to enlighten people.

About Author

thesailingbee (by Aditi Mittal)
thesailingbee (by Aditi Mittal)

She found a new life in her passion – travel. She likes to travel like a local and does not hesitate in going offbeat during her journeys. She believes travelling is also a responsibility to change the perspective of people about other countries. Subscribe to her blog at thesailingbee.com. Follow her on Instagram and Twitter @thesailingbee.

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