Friday, June 20, 2014

KL city in 5 hours

Anthony Burgess, an English writer who taught in Malaysia seems to have said that Malaya was perhaps the only country in the world for any man who cares about history. I am not sure I accept his words completely, (even India has a rich history) however, the history of Kuala lumpur is fascinating.

 From muck and marsh some 150 years ago Kuala lumpur literally meaning  muddy estuary was  a tin and mining town. It has evolved into a cosmopolitan capital with tall buildings, swanky malls and an active night life. But for all its sheen, it has a rich history.  The city tour I took on a sunny morning authenticated it.   I will make this a visual post with descriptions of the place below.

The first place we visited is Istana Negara or national palace.

It is the official residence of the King of Malaysia since 2011, constructed at a cost of 900 million dollors. The old palace at jalan istana has now been converted into a museum. A grand place with beautiful surroundings on a hillock. Public are not allowed beyond the gate which are guarded by horsemen. This was just a photostop for us nothing much to do except get clicked and click the monument. It was interesting to note some people driving sporty bikes on the hilly roads inside. below is the closeup view with the lens between the gate grills.

The next place was the national monument. Erected to commemorate those who died in malaysia’s struggle for freedom, particularly during world war II and the Malayan emergency. The 15 metre high bronze monument to the right sits on a hilltop overlooking the parliament house and the serene perdana botanical garden. Interestingly the gardens had lampposts of hibiscus which is the national flower of Malaysia.Nothing much to do except go around and click photos. But the place is impeccably maintained. One has to carry water bottles, caps, hats or umbrellas, if you are here in the afternoon. Very very sunny.


The next place is for anybody who likes history, art and architecture and one of the most interesting place- National heritage site. I can make multliple posts about this place, but I will keep it short and sweet. Nearly 20 national icons are located here at the place called Dataran merdeka or independence square.

The whole area is a delightful contrast to the modern Malaysia which is in the centre of the city. The buildings here are colonial. The first building our tour guide pointed to here is the Sultan Abdul Samad Building. Much before petronas towers was built, this building was supposed to have the been the signature of KL. It was initially an administrative building for the Federated Malay states, later turned into a highcourt, surpreme court and now it occupies the ministry of information and culture. The building has symmetrical brick structure and is supposed to have been built by Indians with bricks brought from India and this is how Indians arrived in Malaysia . ( info courtesy: tour guide)

Just opposite this building is Dataran Merdeka or independence square which is a huge broad platform on which stands a tall flag pole. The  100 metre flagpole is supposed to be one of the tallest  and the flag  was first hoisted on 31st aug 1957 signifying  the independence of the country.

Beside this is the KL city gallery which is in a 116 year old heritage building. The story of KL is beautifully presented here in photographs and descriptions. It also houses a spectacular model of the city with a short video about the city’s history. The building also houses an architectural modeling workshop ARCH where artisans sculpt and make miniature models of the city’s buildings. One of the places where I would have loved to spend more time, but time was ticking and so ended up clicking photos of all those places and at the I love KL structure.

There were banners like these depicting the origin of KL from a marshy estuary to that of the modern day KL housing Statesque buildings

It seems miners and traders first came upriver to where the rivers klang and gombak converge in search of tin. They named the settlement KL meaning muddy estuary in malay. by 1860's the flourishing village was the reason for rivalry over mining claims and water rights which led to bitter feuds and gang clashes. Finally, a chinese settlement was put under the leadership of the above person. Under his leadership it grew into a thriving town. Later a british resident Frank swettenham moved his administration to KL when brick building were introduced street by street and wooden shanties were pulled down.

 KL model measuring 40ftx50ft with an audio visual tour of the city.

                                                               A model of masjid jamek                     
The ARCH architects at work. It involves concentration and hand dexterity.  A glass wall separates my camera lens and the artisans at work. 

After merdeka square we were off to petronas towers( i will make an exclusive post on this) and then to the various  shops like pewter shop, leather shop, chocolate(malaysian cocoa is supposed to of the premium quality in the world and is said to be exported to other chocolate makers around the world)  factory, batik printing workshop etc. Our final stop of city tour was  at KL communication tower whose sundown version is a delight to watch and is also my room view. But we were here on a cloudy afternoon. We sped up to the observation deck in the lift car of the tower in just 50 secs that is 421metres tall.

                       The day suddenly turned from sunny to a cloudy noon.  we could capture such city views  and stand tall against petronas too. 

NExt our visit to little india.


  1. Wow - that's a nice rapid fire overview of KL. And you did that in 5 hours ?? That's pretty quick.

    Not sure what Burgess meant. KL has very little history to speak of. Its a nice city, but history is not its strength.

    1. yes we took a guided tour, many of the places like the palace and monument were photostops. Burgess meant the malayan history. Yes KL has little history.

  2. Thanks for the nice travelogue. And, thanks for sharing these beautiful photos.

    1. My pleasure, thank you too for the comment:)

  3. Thanks for sharing photos of such lovely destinations. .

  4. It brought back pleasant memories of our visit to all these places years ago. Nice pictures.

    1. Glad to know you had a pleasant time here , Rama. Thank you

  5. Interesting! Must refer to this travelogue whenever we plan to visit Malaysia :)

  6. :) thank you shilpa. It is a part of the city tour.