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Chowrasta Road, George Town, Penang (2)

Chowrasta Road, George Town. Market activities from Chowrasta Market (right) spill out onto the road every morning, creating a street market that occupies the entire stretch of Chowrasta Road.

Chowrasta Road is a narrow two-way road within George Town's UNESCO World Heritage Site. It is particularly famous for the Chowrasta Market, from where market vendors spill out onto the road every morning. It runs from northwest to southeast between Penang Road and Jalan Kuala Kangsar.

Chowrasta Road sign, George Town, Penang

A bilingual Chowrasta Road sign, featuring its Chinese name.

The road was initially part of the massive Indian portion of George Town, which explains its name, of Indian origin. In the 19th. century, Indian traders would sell fish and poultry along the road. The adjacent Chowrasta Market was built in 1890.

Today, Chowrasta Road is alive with market activities every morning. One can find various local produce and snacks, such as fried and popiah.

Etymology

Chowrasta is an Urdu word, meaning four cross roads. This could refer to the roads surrounding Chowrasta Market itself - Penang Road, Chowrasta Road, Jalan Kuala Kangsar and Tamil Street.

The adjacent Chowrasta Market was also known by the Chinese as Keh1 Leng2 Na4 Barn3 san1 in Hokkien and Kit-Leng Pa Sat in Cantonese. Both terms meant the southern Indian market.

History

Chowrasta Road has been in existence since the 19th. century, when the area was part of a larger Indian-dominated portion of George Town. The Tamils, in particular, had settled around the site where Chowrasta Market now stands in the mid-19th. century.

As a result, most traders along Chowrasta Road were ethnic Indians. They sold mostly fish and poultry. Also, at the time, freed Indian convicts often found employment inside Chowrasta Market.

Chowrasta Market, George Town, Penang (old)

Chowrasta Market, after its completion in 1890.

However, a significant demographic shift gradually occurred towards the end of the 19th. century, The Chinese began to move into the previously Indian dominated parts of town, such as Chulia Street. This shift is also evident along Chowrasta Road; most vendors are Chinese instead of Indian.

Chowrasta Market (old picture), George Town, Penang

Chowrasta Market in the 1970s

In 1890, the Chowrasta Market was first built by the George Town Municipal Council. It was then replaced with a newer structure in 1961, which still stands to this day. The market, which has underwent renovations in 2015, is one of the busiest wet markets in George Town and is the place to be to obtain Penang produce, such as preserved nutmegs and tau sar pneah.

Chowrasta Road, George Town, Penang

Chowrasta Road stretches along the northern side of Chowrasta Market (right).

Notable Landmark

Chowrasta Market

Street Market

Penang popiah

Popiah, a type of spring roll ubiquitous in both Singapore and Malaysia.

Every morning, market activities spill out onto Chowrasta Road, creating a street market. You can find numerous local produce and snacks at dirt cheap prices, ranging from fresh vegetables to charcoal-baked nuts and popiah, a type of Malaysian/Singaporean spring roll.

Uncle Lim Popiah, Chowrasta Road, George Town, Penang

Uncle Lim's Popiah Stall is the place to go for fresh hand-made popiah skins.

A particular stall run by an Uncle Lim serves his trademark handmade popiah skins. One can observe him deftly making popiah skins by hand in the open. It is among the place to be to buy the best popiah skins on Penang Island, so much so that even the famous Hong Kong chef, Martin Yan, paid the stall a visit in 2015.

Political Representation

Penang State Government

N.28 Komtar State Assemblyman : Teh Lai Heng (Democratic Action Party)

Malaysian Federal Parliament

P.049 Tanjong Member of Parliament : Ng Wei Aik (Democratic Action Party)

References

  1. Khoo S.N., 2007. Streets of George Town, Penang. Areca Books.
  2. http://www.penang-traveltips.com/chowrasta-road.htm
  3. http://www.thestar.com.my/story/?file=%2F2013%2F3%2F30%2Fcentral%2F12902944&sec=central

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