Where? Kuching, Sarawak
Ratings: *** The smells and colours of Kuching
Lost Ratings: *** Great place to wander around
After visiting the Courthouse, visitors to Kuching have a choice of exiting from the left or right. Depending on the choice you make, you either appear at Chinatown or India Street.
“The India Street derives its name from the fact that it has always been a street occupied by the Indian Shops. Most of the Indians are from the southern and northern India. At first, it was called as the Kling Street in the 1850’s, but the Third White Rajah of Sarawak, Sir Charles Vyner Brooke changes the name to India Street in 1928. In 1992, the street was closed to vehiclular traffic and converted into a pedestrian mall.”
Medicine men from Kalimantan sometimes make an appearance and attracts crowds with their showmanship and cure-all traditional medicines.
Adjacent to India Street is Gambier Road, which as its name suggests, is occupied by shops selling all kinds of spices. Curry lovers who want to cook up a storm will be spoilt for choice here.
Connecting these 2 streets is a narrow lane that leads to the Masjid India or Indian Mosque.
“A small passageway (locally known as “Lorong Sempit”) that connects India Street Pedestrian Mall and Gambier Road. A popular shorcut for shoppers who patronized the area. Built originally as the access to the Indian Mosque located between the Mall and Gambier Road. The doors and steps which marked the beginning of the passageway from the Mall side have been restored in their original state since early seventies.”
The Indian Mosque Lane is like a secret entrance to another world on Gambier Road – a world of aromatic spices and striking colours. You can take a peek into the mosque which has a side entrance here.
The official name of Masjid India is Masjid Bandar Kuching, not to be confused with the much larger Kuching District Mosque. This is reputedly the oldest mosque in Sarawak, having been built in 1834. I have never seen a mosque located in a shophouse before, and for this reason alone, it is worth checking out. For more information on the mosque, http://www.e-borneo.com/insideborneo/leisure0203.html