Little India Toronto

Little India is vibrant South Asian business district located east of downtown Toronto on Gerrard Street

Little India during the Festival of South Asia
Little India during the Festival of South Asia cc licensed photo by Ian Muttoo

Toronto's Little India is situated east of the downtown and north of the popular Beaches neighbourhood. It's a district that will take you beyond the tourist traps and immerse you in the pulse of one of Toronto's many ethnic communities.

Little India straddles Gerrard Street East between Greenwood Avenue and Coxwell Avenue. It is a colourful and vibrant street that really comes to life on warm summer evenings when the shops and restaurants remain open until 9 pm every night drawing many people into the area.

There's an incredible amount of good food to be enjoyed in the area thanks to the abundant cafes and restaurants representing cuisine from India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Afghanistan and Sri Lanka. You will also enjoy exploring many little shops representating the same regions.

Little India is not the official name for this area which is also known as Little Pakistan. The seed that got Little India going, was planted in 1972 when Toronto businessman Gian Naaz acquired the Eastwood Theatre and began showing Bollywood and Pakistani films. This attracted many Indo-Canadian businesses to the area and led to the opening of many small ethnic shops and restaurants and even an influx of Indo-Canadians moving into the area.

This growth fueled itself for several years and Little India was well established by 1980. Surprisingly, the population in the immediate area has always had a relatively small percentage of Indo-Canadians. It was always more about the business district, which draws Indo-Canadians from all parts of the city.

The newest generation of Indo-Canadians often settle outside the area and they are not as interested as their parents were in operating a small ethnic business. These changing demographics are making it difficult for some businesses to carry on, but many continue to thrive and new businesses are opening in the area. Unfortunately, the theatre that started it all, closed down in the late 1990s. Mainstream theatres started showing Bollywood films, and, with new technology, more and more people are consuming movies at home. To help overcome these challenges, businesses are trying to attract a broader clientele, while still retaining a South Asian vibe.

Many of the local independent businesses and restaurants have organized themselves collectively as the Gerrard India Bazaar, which claims to be the largest South Asian marketplace in North America.

You will not regret taking the time to explore this district during your vacation, so take a break from the touristy stuff and check it out. The food is especially tasty and very reasonable too. A good time to visit Little India is during the Festival of South Asia held in early July.

Facts For Your Visit

Fee: No

Hours: Mon-Sun 24/7

Address: Toronto, ON

Directions

TTC Subway Line Nearest Station Walking Time
Yonge-University-Spadina Queens Park or College Station0 Minutes
Bloor-DanforthCoxwell Station17 Minutes

How to get to Little India Toronto by TTC Subway

From either Queens Park or College Station on the Yonge-University-Spadina Line catch the #506 Carlton Towards Roncesvalles and Queen streetcar travelling east on College Street West and get off on Gerrard Street East at Greenwood Avenue. Little India extends to your east along Gerrard Street.

From Coxwell Station on the Bloor-Danforth Line exit and walk south along Coxwell Avenue to Gerrard Street East. (This is about a 17 minute walk) Little India extends to your west along Gerrard Street.

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Food, music, and dance along Gerrard Street during the Festival of South Asia in Little India, Toronto

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