The two-lane Mandai Road connects Woodlands Road to the junction of Upper Thomson Road and Sembawang Road.1 The road was paved in 1855, and located along it are landmarks such as the Singapore Zoo and the Mandai Orchid Gardens.2
The name “Mandai” first appeared on the 1828 Plan of Singapore by Captain James Franklin on which a river was labelled “R. Mandi”. Some believe that the name was taken from an unidentified tree. Others suggest that “Mandai” might be a corruption of mandi, meaning “bathe” in Malay, as the river could have been used for this purpose. Constructed in 1855,3 Mandai Road is surrounded by greenery.4 Tin was also reportedly mined at the 11th Mile Mandai Road in 1907 by a businessman, Tan Kim Wah; it is a rare record of tin found in Singapore.5
In 2001, the National Parks Board (NParks) initiated the Heritage Road Scheme to conserve scenic roads lined with mature trees and greenery. With that, roads would not be widened or realigned unless there were compelling reasons.6 Mandai Road was identified as a Heritage Road, and in 2005, it was gazetted for conservation under the Parks and Trees Act. This extended the conservation of greenery to 10 m on both sides of each road. Trees along these roads cannot be cut down and no development is allowed within the 10-metre-wide buffer zone. 7
Mandai Road, which is about 1.084 km long, passes through a part of the Central Catchment Nature Reserve within which the Singapore Zoo, Mandai Orchid Gardens, Seletar Reservoir and Seletar Reservoir Park are located.8
Designed by Chan Kui Chuan, the Singapore Zoo was built in 1973 and spread over 28 ha of thick woods. The zoo is known for its unique style of display using open animal enclosures. Mandai Orchid Gardens, built in 1960, is a privately owned four-hectare garden located on Mandai Lake Road, off Mandai Road.9
Seletar Reservoir at the Mandai Road area was constructed in 1969 by the Public Works Department and is one of the largest water catchment areas in Singapore. Also on Mandai Road and built slightly later in 1973, Seletar Reservoir Park is a frequent haunt for joggers, walkers and horse riders.10
Orchidville is a private orchid farm located off Mandai Road and owned by the Phua brothers. Opened in 1994, it is spread over 43 ha of land, making it the largest orchid farm in Singapore.11
In 2002, it was announced that the Mandai Crematorium and Columbarium Complex located off Mandai Road will undergo expansion works estimated to cost S$63 million. There will be a new crematorium building and six columbaria blocks that can house 79,000 additional niches for remains.12 Also along Mandai Road is a 13-hectare golf course built in 1992 for S$2 million by the Public Works Department.13
In 2016, Mandai Safari Park Holdings announced that the Mandai area off Mandai Road would be turned into a nature precinct. Targeted to be completed by 2023, the area would comprise two new wildlife parks – the new Rainforest Park and the relocated Bird Park – in addition to the existing Singapore Zoo, River Safari and the Night Safari.14
Naidu Ratnala Thulaja
1. Norman Edwards and Peter Keys, Singapore: A Guide to Buildings, Streets, Places (Singapore: Times Books International, 1988), 500. (Call no. RSING 915.957 EDW-[TRA])
2. Edwards and Keys, Guide to Buildings, Streets, Places, 500.
3. Victor R. Savage and Brenda S. A. Yeoh, Singapore Street Names: A Study of Toponymics (Singapore: Marshall Cavendish Editions, 2013), 247. (Call no. RSING 915.9570014 SAV-[TRA])
4. Edwards and Keys, Guide to Buildings, Streets, Places, 500.
5. Peter K. G. Dunlop, Street Names of Singapore (Singapore: Who’s Who Publishing, 2000), 203–04. (Call no. RSING 959.57 DUN-[HIS])
6. Mah Bow Tan, “The Official Opening of Hindhede Nature Park,” speech, Hindhede Nature Park, 17 August 2011, transcript, Ministry of Information, Communications and the Arts (From National Archives of Singapore document no. 2001081702); Neo Hui Min, “New Laws Protect Local Trees,” Straits Times, 18 August 2011, 7. (From NewspaperSG)
7. Joyce Teo, “Heritage Roads,” Straits Times, 26 January 2005, 1; Tan Hui Yee, “Roads Now Safe Heavens for Trees,” Straits Times, 12 February 2005, 2. (From NewspaperSG)
8. Edwards and Keys, Guide to Buildings, Streets, Places, 500; “Mandai Road,” National Parks Board, accessed 30 April 2020.
9. Edwards and Keys, Guide to Buildings, Streets, Places, 20.
10. Edwards and Keys, Guide to Buildings, Streets, Places, 44, 500
11. “Orchid Farm Now also Blooms as a Party Venue,” Straits Times, 27 December 2002, 19. (From NewspaperSG)
12. “Mandai Crematorium to Get $63M Expansion,” Straits Times, 5 February 2002, 5. (From NewspaperSG)
13. “Work on Seletar Reservoir Park Golf Course Begins,” Straits Times, 5 July 1992, 17. (From NewspaperSG)
14. Audrey Tan and Pang Xue Qiang, “Mandai to Be Nature Hub with Five Wildlife Parks,” Straits Times, 2 June 2016, 1; Nisha Ramchandani, “New Bird Park and Rainforest Attraction to Refresh Mandai,” Business Times, 2 June 2016, 1. (From NewspaperSG)
The information in this article is valid as at May 2020 and correct as far as we are able to ascertain from our sources. It is not intended to be an exhaustive or complete history of the subject. Please contact the Library for further reading materials on the topic.