Women in colourful saris, street food stalls selling samosas, and Indian sweets, and bright fabrics hanging in shop fronts can be seen which will remind you of Lajpat or Sarojini Nagar market of Delhi. And the experience is also just as wonderful, the only difference is, it’s not India but a ‘Mini India’ where saris are worn, chapattis are eaten and the official language is Hindi. The station signs can be spotted in Latin and Gurumukhi (Punjabi). Even the signs on main railway station are bilingual. This amazing little India is a very important part of London, it is called Southall.
Southall is a lively and diverse community in the London Borough of Ealing, West London. Known as ‘Little India’, Southall is home to a huge South Asian population, one of biggest concentrations outside India. “What makes it more Indian is the fact that out of 100 percent of people seen on streets, most of them are Punjabi,” says Simarjit Manaktala, an Indian staying in London for past seven years.
“The major attraction of the place is a very old and famous Gurudwara,” says Tarini Peshawaria, a NRI student studying in Nottingham. There are ten Sikh Gurudwara in Southall and one of them won the Ealing Civic Society Architectural Award in 2003. The Gurudwara Sri Guru Singh Sabha, which opened in 2003, is one of the largest Sikh temples outside India. There are two large Hindu temples, the Vishnu temples on Lady Margaret Road and the Ram Mandir in Old Southall and more than ten Churches. Besides, there are three mosques in Southall. The Abubakr mosque situated on Southall Broadway, the Central Jamia Masjid Mosque and the Jamia Masjid Islamic Centre.
Southall is also the location of the Glassy Junction public house, which served several Indian draught beers and was the first pub in the UK to accept payment in Indian Rupees. However, it’s closed now.
Southall has many well-known restaurants such as Chaudhary’s TKC, Gifto’s Madhus, Mirch Masala. One can feel homely looking at the bazaars, street-traders and mango sellers. From fresh jalebi and other colourful sweets to halal, chinese meals are some of the dishes which won’t let you feel away from India! The town has dozens of Indian restaurants and a huge Asian shopping centre. Everything from Maggie to Indian mangoes is available in such shops. In short, it is one stop for everything Indian!
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“Rupees and Punjabi are acceptable medium of currency and language exchange in most retail business. Actually Punjabis are more in number here. Others include Muslims, followed by Africans and European people. There are few South Indians too but less in number compared to their population in East London,” says Simar Singh, an NRI staying in Southall.
And this becomes the speciality of the region that even being far from motherland, one can find people of their region and origin to share their happiness and sorrow with.
One must take an unforgettable trip to ‘Little India’.
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