There is no better time to go to Brickfields in KL than Deepavali, which falls on 27 October this year. Depavali or Diwali, a Sanskrit word meaning ‘rows of lighted lamps’, is a Hindu-originated festival celebrated by most Indians regardless of faith, with Jains, Buddhists, and Sikhs also celebrating. The preparations for the festival typically last five days.
When Brickfields bedecks for the festivities, there is a palpable buzz of excitement in the air. The streets are lined with pop-up stores brimming with all sorts of goods galore. Dance songs fill the air and the shops are stocked with the latest sarees!
Start the day with breakfast
Start early, with promise of a thosai breakfast. The crispy rice crêpes come in many varieties and are often dunked in a lentil gravy. Gandhi’s on Jalan Scott and Saravana Bhavan along Jalan Tun Sambanthan have a good thosai selection.
We usually start our walk from Jalan Rozario and its row of terraced houses up to the Vivekanada Ashram. The whitewashed building is more than a 100 years old and a nice photo opportunity. From here, Jalan Tun Sambanthan, the main thoroughfare, is ready for exploration. Take a few minutes to smell the jasmine, as you pass by the flower lane.
Mangala Theebam, Sri Kumaran’s and Preets all have a good selection of Deepavali outfits for adults and kids alike. I love the stores selling accessories – colourful bangles, earrings and tikkas. I always go to Bombay Point and Rani’s (both on Jalan Tun Sambanthan).
My children and I like to amble around the pop-up stalls that sell decorated lamps, wall art, statutes and trays. We always buy some snacks to take home: murukus, achi murukus and omapudis are wonderful.
One of our favourite things to do is getting a quick mehendi at the mehendi stalls. When my boys were younger, they used to ask for aeroplanes and eagles, which the ladies always indulged!
Buddhist Maha Vihara in Jalan Scott is a serene respite amidst the bustle of Brickfields. It is a temple that practices the Sri Lankan Theravada Buddhist tradition. Currently it’s under construction, but the main prayer halls are all open. Right outside the Buddhist Maha Vihara, you will spot a lovely traditional wooden Malay house on stilts. It’s believed to be a pre-WW2 relic and worth a stop.
Kandaswamy Koil is a beautiful example of a South Indian temple structure. If the temple is closed, it shows its magnificent doors, which make a lovely photo! If you are lucky, you may catch a glimpse of a wedding pageantry, as the hall next door is popular for weddings. The temple is also currently under renovation.
Best lunch spots in Brickfields
As you are now smack in the middle of Jalan Scott, you’ve hit one of our favourite lunch spots in Brickfields, which is Annalakshmi in the Temple of Fine Arts. Serving a vegetarian buffet lunch and dinner, as well as à la carte, I highly recommend the buffet. The quality is good and super value at 25 RM (drinks not included). It’s best to book ahead if you’re coming with more than 4 hungry eaters.
Whilst your kids are having their second mango lassi, you can pop in next door at Lavanya Arts which sells lovely Indian handicrafts, art work, accessories and beautiful silk sarees. There’s a small collection for children as well.
After all that culture and heritage walk, you can look for the air-conditioned ambience of Nu Sentral mall to catch a movie perhaps or if you have older kids, try out the Breakout Escape Room. There’s a direct link bridge from Jalan Tun Sambanthan, so there’s no need to drive or park.
Time to relax
After such a long day, you can choose now to reward yourself with views of the city skyline at the rooftop Mai Bar on the 30th floor at Aloft KL Sentral. Or you could go back to the bustle of Jalan Tun Sambanthan. It glows at night with Deepavali lights and becomes even more atmospheric.
Photo credits: Andrew Fotoworld