10 historical gems in Toa Payoh that you have to see to believe they exist
Being one of Singapore's oldest neighbourhoods, Toa Payoh has so many historical gems to offer – all of which not many locals know about
Think you know one of Singapore's oldest neighbourhoods? Perhaps not! Here are 10 historically interesting sights scattered around Toa Payoh, differentiating itself from the other neighbourhoods.
#1 Grave Hill
Image credit: teochew.sg
Grave Hill can be accessed by a path at the end of Toa Payoh West, opposite the Ministry of Social and Family Development building. At Grave Hill lies the tomb of 19th century Chinese merchant and community leader, Seah Eu Chin.
Seah Eu Chin was also known as the ‘King of gambier and pepper’ because of his plantation business that spread to River Valley and Bukit Timah. Grave Hill was formerly part of Seah Eu Chin's plantation that continued along Thomson Road, and it was since used as his family burial ground.
Today, his tomb is commonly visited by Singaporeans as well as the media.
#2 Dragon Playground
Image credit: National Heritage board
Along Lorong 6 lies one of Singapore's most-loved landmarks – the dragon playground. This playground was designed by Mr Khor Ean Ghee of the Housing and Development Board and built in 1979, alongside the other animal inspired playgrounds in Singapore that were designed in the 1970s.
This playground was designed in the shape of a dragon as seen by its head, long spine and tail. It was also made mostly of brick, unlike the ones that are around now.
Currently, it remains as one of the contributing factors to Singapore's heritage. Kids can still be seen swarming the playground, four generations after it was built!
#3 Chung Hwa Medical Instituition
Image credit: Commons
The Chung Hwa Medical Institution located in Toa Payoh Lorong 4 is different from the ones located in the other neighbourhoods. For one, the construction of this building included the funds of approximately 5,000 taxi drivers and 500 trishaw riders, apart from the rest of the community!
Toa Payoh's Chung Hwa Medical Institution was established in 1978 as a branch of the original free clinic in Telok Ayer Street. Currently, it is the headquarters of Singapore Chinese Physicians Association (SCPA). It also provides low cost traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) to all religious groups.
Its beautiful architecture is bold enough to catch your eye, even if you're not in need of TCM!
#4 Sri Vairavimada Kaliamman Temple
Image credit: Small Temples Singapore
Located in Toa Payoh Lorong 8, the Sri Vairavimada Kaliamman Temple stands as one of the oldest Hindu temples in Singapore.
The temple was originally in Somerset until 1970 when the government required the land for the construction of Somerset MRT Station. It was then that the Hindu Endowments Board (HEB) acquired the site in Toa Payoh in 1977, where the temple is now.
This temple was also the first institution in Singapore to offer kindergarten classes conducted in Tamil and English, which then proved to be a success and moved on to be an independent kindergarten; The Saraswathy Kindergarten in 1997.
Be sure to capture the amazing exterior design of this temple when you're in the area!
#5 Seu Teck Sean Temple
Image credit: Panoramio
At the junction of Lorong 6 and Lorong 1 lies the Seu Teck Sean Temple that dates all the way back to 1959! The temple also has an altar dedicated to its patron saint Song Dafeng, which was blessed as part of a shan tang tradition.
In 1967, Seu Teck Sean Tong opened its medical section and offered medical services to people regardless of religion. It currently holds a kidney dialysis section that is operated by the National Kidney Foundation.
So don't forget to snap a picture or two of this prominent temple when you visit Toa Payoh!
#6 United Temple
Image credit: The Middle Ground
The second temple on this list; The United Temple, commonly known as Wu He Miao (Five United Temples) stands at Toa Payoh Lorong 7 and it was the first temple to house different Chinese deities worshipped by the various dialect groups.
The construction of this temple was completed in 1974 and was built to cater to the Hokkien, Hainanese, Teochew and Cantonese communities in Singapore.
The building of this temple shifted the Singaporean Chinese community which previously organised employment, religious worship and other socio-cultural endeavours largely along dialect lines.
#7 Masjid Muhajirin
Image credit: PMO
Wow, Toa Payoh sure has a number of religious places!
Located at the far end of Toa Payoh, Masjid Muhajirin stands tall along Braddell Road with its majestic green exterior design that will be sure to catch your eye even if you're just driving by.
Construction of Masjid Muhajirin began in October 1975 and was opened by Minister for Social Affairs, Othman Wok, one and a half years later in April 1977. This was also the first mosque in Singapore to be built solely by the Mosque Building Fund (MBF), with contributors from every employed individual of the Muslim community.
The mosque also holds religious classes by Madrasah Al-Irsyad Al-Islamiah and is known to many as the Singapore Islamic Hub.
#8 Dragon Statue
Image credit: National Heritage Board
Toa Payoh Lorong 3 holds yet another gem that offers a slice of Singapore's past. The statue of a Chinese-style dragon entwining a pillar situates itself in the middle of the heartland. This gem is located at the entrance of Toa Payoh Palm Spring, and shares a similar history to the better known statue in Whampoa.
"...he heard a loud bang, so he dashed out to the window and what he saw... actually a fireball. It shoots up to the sky and he looks up into the sky and actually he saw that the fireball... is a burning dragon.
So when the sun comes out, he and his neighbours rushed to the place where they saw... where they saw the fireball. They found it was an unused well, those Lallangs around the well was all burnt..." - Recited from this video.
#9 Toa Payoh Town Park
Image credit: nparks
Located at the junction of Lorong 2 and 6 lies Toa Payoh's baby, the Toa Payoh Town Park. It has a 25m-tall Observation Tower which offered visitors panoramic views of Singapore in the 1970s and 1980s.
This 4.8 hectare park houses plant and tree life, manmade ponds, bridges, gazebos and trellises, pathways and pavilions which makes it one of the popular choices for photoshoots.
In 1992, the park underwent a makeover and it currently remains as an ideal place for families and friends for leisure and recreational activities.
#10 Little Prince Cafe
Image credit: Little Prince Cafe Facebook
Inspired from the famous storybook that was so popular, it got translated into more than 250 languages and dialects, the Little Prince Cafe is located in Lorong 6.
Its exterior and interior design depicts the book perfectly, giving you a sense of nostalgia and adolescence that was portrayed in the book. This little nook serves sandwiches that you don't usually see in other cafes such as the Muar Otah Sandwich.
The Little Prince Cafe is located at block 47, Toa Payoh Lorong 6 and is opened daily from 12pm-10pm (9:30pm on Fridays and Saturdays, closed on Tuesdays).
Know any other interesting places in Toa Payoh that are not listed here? Share them with us below!