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 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.