An early settlement of the Indians; earliest was Tanjong Pagar.

In November 1822 Stamford Raffles wrote to the Town Committee about 'the proper allotment of the Native division of the town…' About the Chuliah Kampong (Indian village) Raffles wrote; 'advantage of allotting a separate division for the town class of Chuliahs (Indians) up the Singapore river,  and this will of course be done with a due consideration of their expected numbers, and the necessity of their residence being in the vicinity of the place where their services are most likely to be called for.'

Nairanina Pillay, a Tamil accompanied Raffles to Singapore in May 1819 and the Tamil later invited other Tamils in Penang to join him in Singapore. The earliest Tamil Mosques are found in Telok Ayer Street and South Bridge Road where the oldest Hindu Temple is also located. Upper Cross Street was known as 'Kampong of the Indians' by the Chinese; the Malays referred to it as 'Kampong Susu' and the Tamils' Pal Kampong' both meaning 'Milk Kampong' because there were Indian milk vendors. Kadayanallur community from South India settled in Tanjong Pagar. The earliest Tamil School was also located in Chinatown. Near Raffles Place are Chulia Street and Market Street where the Chettiars (money lenders) had their offices and residence. A large number of Indians were employed in Keppel Harbour, Dockyard and the Railways; they all lived in Tanjong Pagar. The original Little Idia was therefore Tanjong Pagar.

The Indian convicts in Bencoolen were transferred to Singapore in 1825 and their re-settlement was I n Bras Basah. All classes of the Indian society were among the convicts; those include Beanres 'Brahmana', Sikh and Dogra 'Kaatriyas', Chettiars, Bengali and Parsi financiers and untouchables fro different parts of India.

By 182 Serangoon Road was already planned and in 1828 it was marked on a map by Lieutenant Jackson.

Serangoon area was an attraction to settlers because of the presence of rivers and where gambier, nutmeg, coconuts and even rice were grown. When agriculture failed, cattle raising became the most important occupation of the Indians because of abundant water and grass; Serangoon was also near the main roads. Another attraction was the Race Course.

Those who settled in Serangoon area came from India in the latter part of the 19th century long after Indians had settled in Tanjong Pagar.

Besides cattle raring and related activities, wheat-grinding, sesame oil presses, rattan works and pineapple preserving factories became an economic feature of Serangoon area. At one time cattle raising was dominated by J.R. Belilios (Bellios Lane is named after him), a Venetian Jew. Adolph Landau and L.C. Joffie set up business as Pineapple Merchants. Pineapple skins, sesame and wheat husks became fodder for cattle.

Other than rearing cows and buffaloes for the dairy trade, bulls and buffaloes were used for drawing bullock-carts - the chief cargo transport vehicles in the 19th century. Cattle and sheep were also imported for slaughter-houses which were located in Syed Alwi and Sungei Roads. H.Desker (Desker Road named after him) and his family ran a profitable abattoir there. Tamil Muslims were also engaged in this business.

Horses were used to draw carriages and many were in the stables in Race Course Road as race horses.

In the 19th century Peranakan India from Malacca settled in Serangoon area.

Other communities also settled there; these included Chinese and Baweanese (Indonesians); the former grew vegetable gardens in the Lavender and Balestier areas and the Peranakan Indian lived in Kampong Kapor. The Baweanese were employed as horse trainers at the Race Course, carriage and bullock-cart drivers, syces and gardeners; they lived in 'pondoks' (lodging houses).Peranakan Chinese built their distinctive houses in Petain Road and the Straits Chinese Methodist Church is located in Kampong Kapur.

Indians from different parts of their homeland settled in certain sections of Serangoon area; South Indian Muslims, Bengali Hindus, Tamils and Telegus had their own localities. The Tamil area stretched as far as Potong Pasir. These enclaves were largely due for security in a foreign land.

Serangoon area has one of the oldest Mosques, the Abdul Gaffoor Mosque (in Mayo Road) and three of the oldest Hindu Temples: the Veeramakaliamman, the Srinivasa Perumal and the Vadapathirakaliamman.There are also three old Buddhist Temples in Race Course Road. 

In the first decades of the 20th century Serangoon area was the centre of Indian migration. The opening of the Naval Base, Seletar and Changi Air Bases brought in an influx of Indians particularly Tamils and Malayalees near these bases.

During the 1930s Serangoon was gradually transformed into a residential and commercial one. The early years saw the male dormitories where both employers and employees lived above their working place. It was communal living of about 25 persons who belonged to the same caste and occupation.

Certain areas were transferred to Chinese migrants who redeveloped them. What is known today as Little India became mostly an Indian Hindu commercial area.

Just before the Japanese invasion of Malaya in December 1941 many Indian men sent their wives and children back to India and those who remained behind suffered along with other communities from Japanese bombing and artillery fire and under Japanese Occupation.

After the return of the British in 1945 Serangoon area remained very much and Indian settlement with quaint Indian shops and even with the few male dormitories of the 19th century.

Little India tourist attraction

;  there are a variety of Indian shops and businesses; these include garland makers, cloth merchants, gold smiths, costume jewelers, provision stores and restaurants. Little India contributes its Indians to enrich our multi -cultural Republic of Singapore.

The vast majority of Indians now live in high-rise buildings in a multi-racial environment.