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Klang's Little India still a big draw


TOURIST ATTRACTION:More people visit the enclave every year for its bargains and sights

IT is a fascinating sight to watch people from all walks of life head for Little India in Jalan Tengku Kelana, here, just to shop or sight-see.

Amid the hustle and bustle, visitors feel welcomed by the warmth and hospitality of its traders.

Back in 1865, the enclave was where Chettiars (money lenders) and textile exporters did business.

So said Chandrasheran Gopal Pather, a third-generation goldsmith who has been staying in Klang for 57 years.

He said Little India started off with five shops along Jalan Tengku Kelana,  with most of the buildings  built in the pre-war period.

Most of the traders were dealing  in textiles, silverware and food.

"Today, there are more than 100 shops here selling a wide variety of things and services," said Chanrasheran adding that  Little India draws shoppers by the thousands, especially during Indian festivals, making it a sizeable  income-generator for Klang.

Competition among traders is stiff, and as such shoppers benefit from the price wars to buy their goods at the lowest prices.

"Though there are other Little Indias in many parts of the country, many shoppers prefer coming here.

"This is because of the choices and the affordable prices," said Chandrasheran, who runs V. Gopal Pather and Sons Sdn Bhd, a shop selling gold.

Other races, such as the Malays and Chinese, are also seen shopping here.

"Everything here is within  walking distance. You can get anything you want, from silverware and clothes to jewellery," he said.

Resident R. Raghumoorthy, 50, who has been staying here for nearly 30 years, said in the 1970s and '80s, most of the shops in the town closed at 6pm.

"Before any development took place, shops were far and few.  

"Residents had to travel far to  buy things or get things done.

"Over the years, the population has grown by leaps and bounds.

"So now Little India has become one of the busiest parts of the town," said Raghumoorthy, who is also the managing director of Gayathri Silk Sarees Palace (M) Sdn Bhd.

He said many locals and shoppers from outstation  like to come to Little India.

This is  because of its variety of products such as  cookware, prayer items, fresh flowers,  saris, jewellery, and Indian traditional sweets.

Raghumoorthy said in the past, there was only one way to get to Klang, and that was via the Federal Highway, and it was usually congested with traffic.

"Now that the government has built new highways such as the Damansara-Puchong Expressway (LDP), New Pantai Expressway (NPE), Lebuhraya Shah Alam (Kesas) and New Klang Valley Expressway (NKVE), people have many options  to get to Klang," he said.

He also said another interesting sight is the oldest Hindu temple, the Sri Sundararaja Perumal Devasthanam temple, which has over 120 years of history.

One service in Klang that also brings in many visitors is palm reading. A majority of the palmists are from India.

Some palmists also use parrots in the fortune-reading.

These fortune-tellers are usually stationed on the five-footways of shops along Little India.

They also sell amulets and trinkets to bring customers luck.

Visitors can also get their hands painted with henna here.

Jalan Tengku Kelana in the heart of Little India.

A textile shop full of customers.

A row of stalls selling garlands.

Chandrasheran Gopal Pather’s goldsmith shop.

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