Dhoby Ghaut is a fascinatingly diverse district. Here, the old and the new merge, with modernist buildings beside art deco shop houses and old shopping complexes. There are grass lawns beside moss-eaten canals. Cinemas, office buildings, shopping complexes, pubs and hotels are all entangled with one another in this maze known as Dhoby Ghaut.
The phrase Dhoby Ghaut is an Anglo-Indian one. The word ‘dhoby' refers to laundrymen, which ‘ghaut' is a hybrid word which means ‘beside the river'. ( See: How Dhoby Ghaut Its Name)
Dhoby Ghaut was a quaint area during the colonial days. Its most important landmark, especially to older Singaporeans, must be The Cathay Building, Singapore's first air-conditioned public place. This cinema was opened on 3 rd October 1939 and was extremely important in the development of the local film industry.
Fort Canning Park is located near the heart of Dhoby Ghaut and is also significant to Singapore 's history. This was established by the British in 1859, designed to be exactly that – a fort. Prior to the British, Fort Canning was known as Bukit Larangan or Forbidden Hill. Legend has it that Bukit Larangan was where the sultans of ancient Singapore resided. Today, you can see the tomb of Sultan Iskandar Shah, the last king of the island.
Places of Interest
- Fort Canning Park
Fort Canning Park is nice place to go for a walk, catch an aerial view of the city and learn a little about Singapore history. Take a walk through The Battle Box, an underground exhibition that explores the history of Fort Canning during World War II. Here, you can examine the underground bunkers that were used during the Japanese Occupation. Also in Fort Canning are canons installed by the British as a defense weapon. Fort Canning is also a concert venue, which has hosted bands such as Slipknot. Every year in September, Fort Canning hosts WOMAD, an international world music festival.
- Singapore Art Museum (SAM)
The old St. Joseph 's Institution, the art museum is a colonial-style building that still reflects the Catholicism of its previous occupants. Visitors are greeted by stained glass and statues as you enter the museum. Other than the visual arts, SAM also features local and foreign performance artistes.
- Asian Civilisations Museum, Armenian Street
This museum is the former Tao Nan School building, and is the first of the two Asian Civilisations Museum buildings. Opened in 1997, this museum showcases Chinese and Peranakan cultures.
- The Substation
A few doors away from the Asian Civilisations Museum, The Substation is an independent performing arts venue. It hosts theatre and musical performances by independent artistes and arts companies, and is small, warm and comfortable to both the audience and the performers. At the back of The Substation is Timbre, a restaurant-cum-pub that features a nightly live band playing pop and rock music.
Shopping and Recreation
The main shopping centres in Dhoby Ghaut are Park Mall and Plaza Singapura. Park Mall is a high-end shopping centre, with retail shops selling branded furniture and goods. Plaza Singapura, just across the street from Park Mall, has a wider range of retail shops. It also has two arcades and a cinema run by Golden Village. A few doors away is another cinema, the newly-opened Picturehouse that is a building dedicated exclusively to movie screenings.
There are many shop houses around the Dhoby Ghaut area, with many pubs. This district also boasts The Legend, an exclusive recreational club that is located at the top of Fort Canning Hill. There are also many hotels in Dhoby Ghaut, such as the YMCA Hotel and Hotel Rendezvous.
Other Informations in Dhoby Ghaut: The District of Arts and Entertainment