Chulia Street, George Town

Coordinates: 5°25′1.46″N 100°20′16.36″E / 5.4170722°N 100.3378778°E / 5.4170722; 100.3378778

Chulia Street is one of the oldest roads in the city of George Town in Penang, Malaysia. Created soon after the founding of George Town in 1786, it forms a part of the city's Little India enclave ever since, whilst also boasting a multicultural character due to Indian Muslim and Chinese influences.[1]

Chulia Street
Malay: Lebuh Chulia
Chinese: 牛干东 / 牛干東
Tamil: கலிங்க வீதி
Route information
Maintained by the Penang Island City Council
Major junctions
West endPenang Road
East endBeach Street
Major citiesGeorge Town
Highway system
Chulia St10200 P. PINANG

Criteriaii, iii, iv
Designated2008 (32nd session)
Part ofGeorge Town UNESCO Core and Buffer Zones
Reference no.1223

In addition, Chulia Street has a large concentration of budget accommodation for tourists, as several shophouses along the road have been converted into hostels and guesthouses.[2] With the inscription of George Town as a UNESCO World Heritage Site, more upmarket hotels have also been opened along Chulia Street.

Chulia Street is also well-known as a food paradise within Penang, due to the numerous hawker stalls and restaurants along the street that serve local cuisine.[2][3]


Chulia Street originally formed the southern limits of George Town, as can be seen in this 1799 map of the settlement.

Originally, the street was named Malabar Street, after the Indians from Malabar who moved to George Town.[1]

The term 'Chulia' is a corruption of 'Chulier', which was once used to refer to the Indians who originated from the coastal areas of Tamil Nadu in India. That particular region was formerly part of the Chola Kingdom, hence the term 'Chulier'.


The Nagore Durgha Shrine at Chulia Street, built in 1803, is one of the oldest Muslim buildings in George Town.

Malabar Street was laid out soon after the founding of Penang in 1786 by Captain Francis Light. [1] The road marked the original southern limits of the new settlement of George Town.[4]

The street was renamed Chulia Street in 1798, as the British recognised that most of the Indians who moved to the street were, in fact, from Tamil Nadu. The early inhabitants were Muslims, and they subsequently built a number of religious buildings along Chulia Street, such as the Nagore Durgha Shrine and the Noordin Family Tomb.[1]

Tourists travelling on trishaws along Chulia Street

Due to the influx of ethnic Indians along Chulia Street, the road has become part of George Town's Little India enclave. However, while the population of Indian Muslims along Chulia Street began to decline in the late 19th century, ethnic Chinese were simultaneously moving into the road, thus contributing to Chulia Street's multicultural character.

Since the early 20th century, Chulia Street has gained its reputation as the destination for budget tourists.[1] Budget hostels and guesthouses, along with businesses such as laundries, restaurants, bars and travel agencies, now operate out of the rows of shophouses lining the road. In recent years, upmarket hotels have also been established along Chulia Street.[5]

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ a b c d e Khoo, Salma Nasution (2007). Streets of George Town, Penang. Penang, Malaysia: Areca Books. ISBN 9789839886009.
  2. ^ a b Brunton, John (2012-06-14). "10 of the best cheap eats in Penang". The Guardian. ISSN 0261-3077. Retrieved 2017-02-16.
  3. ^ "Guide to Penang's most popular streets". Time Out Penang. Retrieved 2017-02-16.
  4. ^ "ASEAN Conference on Environment-Behaviour Studies". Urban Landscape Factors That Influenced the Character of George Town, Penang Unesco World Heritage Site.
  5. ^ "Japan's capsule-style hotel now in Penang". 2015-06-01. Retrieved 2017-02-16.