SINGAPORE - The Tampines of today - filled with high-rise residential units - was once so rural that it used to be a hunting ground for tigers which would carry off calves from farms in the late 1800s.
Even in the more modern era of the 1970s, Tampines had pockets of woods where wildlife roamed. For instance, residents interviewed by the New Nation newspaper in 1975 often sighted a panther - described as the size of a large Alsatian dog - stalking the area, eating wild dogs and farm chickens.
Today, most of the rural appearance of the estate is gone. In fact, the very trees - tempinis - that lent its name to the district were once almost extinct, said the National Heritage Board (NHB).
These contrasts are highlighted in its trail of the estate. It is the 17th heritage to be launched by NHB.
To enrich the trail experience, three bite-sized thematic routes have been curated for trail-goers to explore Tampines' heritage based on their interests.
These include a first-ever Green Spaces Trail - a cycling trail that takes visitors through scenic landscapes, such as sites where former kampungs were once located - and a former landfill turned wetland.
Landmarks along the trail also include a cluster of 12 Temples at Tampines Avenue 10.
Mr Alvin Tan, NHB's assistant chief executive of policy and community, said that it is a town of many firsts. "It was the first to pioneer town planning innovations in the 1980s by integrating green corridors, the first regional centre set up to decentralise commercial activities from downtown business area to suburbs and the first and only town to be conferred World Habitat Award in 1991."
He added: "NHB is constantly exploring innovative ways to enrich the public's experience with each new heritage trail.
"For instance, the Green Spaces Trail was curated for Tampines because of its well-integrated green spaces and because cycling is a way of life for many of its residents. Through such thematic trails, we hope to encourage the public to explore and experience different aspects of Tampines' heritage according to their own interests."
The Tampines Heritage Trail also aims to celebrate lesser-known stories from the community. From first-generation hawkers of the Tampines Round Market & Food Centre who first set up stall there in 1983, to residents who have been living there since its kampung days, the stories of 25 members of the community have been incorporated into the trail's booklet.
The move follows a public call for memories and stories earlier this year.