10 historical gems in Toa Payoh that you have to see to believe they exist

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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

indian 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

Seu Teck Sean

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!

Click on the next page to find out more of Toa Payoh’s gems

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