In the event you are travelling to Medan, you may want to explore Kampung Madras, the ‘Little India’ of the city. Kampung Madras has the unique appeal that makes it completely different from other areas in Medan – or in Indonesia in general. If you visit the area, be prepared. You may feel that you are in India because of the thick cultural atmosphere and setting.
About the Place
Medan is one of the big cities in Indonesia (the biggest one after Jakarta and Surabaya) with the multi-ethnic appeal. Besides being home to Batak ethnicity, Medan is also home to many people from a different ethnic background and native culture. In the old days, Sumatra (the province where Medan is located) had played a crucial role in the cultural spread.
Kampung Madras covers around 10 hectares of area and you can feel the unique ‘Little India’ atmosphere. Step in and you will feel as if you were in Bollywood. Don’t be surprised to see women wearing sari or kids with a red mark on their forehead around you.
The Long History
Kampung Madras existence started in the 19th century. Tamil people were travelling and coming to North Sumatra, working as workers in plantation areas. It turned out that the newcomers weren’t only Tamil people. They were also coming from Punjab and Cheyttar. They started as plantation workers but they started to become construction workers and traders. And then, Kampung Madras was slowly formed and constructed.
What to Do There?
Kampung Madras alone is unique – but be prepared to see things or experience a lot of stuff that you may not find elsewhere. Not only you will see people with Indian heritage, but you will also see the unique building construction along with the accompanying culture.
If you want to see the icon of the place, go to Shri Mariamman Temple. It was built in 1881. People would come to this temple to pray. Located in Jalan Teuku Umar no.18, it has become an iconic construction of Kampung Madras. If you see the temple, then you are in the right spot. The place is often used in important religious ceremonies or during special events.
Want to do some shopping? Looking for stuff that is Indian unique? Or you are probably looking for stores selling cooking ingredients to make Indian food? Then, you should go to Kampung Madras trade district. It should be easy for you to find what you want. If you want to buy a sari or unique Indian clothing, the district is packed with Indian clothing apparel stores. It’s a guarantee that you won’t find it elsewhere!
Deepavali (also known as Diwali) is one of the most important events in India. According to Caka Hindu calendar, it is celebrated in Aswajuya month that usually takes place in October or November. Deepavali is celebrated by all Indian people all over the world, including those living in Medan. If you are travelling to Medan during these months, you should see the great festivity in the area.
What about the food? Well, if you like Indian food, then Kampung Madras is like heaven! Expect to find a lot of Indian foods like Nasi Briani (Briani Rice), Roti Canai (Canai Bread), boiled mussels, or Martabak Kuah Kari (folded crepe filled with meat pieces and spices with curry broth). In short, it should be easy for you to find original Indian foods and recipes in Kampung Madras.