Introduction | History



Kuala Kangsar
Kuala Kangsar, located 48km north of Ipoh on the Perak River, is the royal town of Perak. It is dominated by three beautiful buildings: Istana Iskandariah, Istana Kenangan and the Ubudiah mosque. The Istana Iskandariah, situated on a hill overlooking the river, is the palace of the Sultan of Perak. Although an imposing structure, it is of less interest architecturally than the smaller and more beautiful Istana Kenangan, which was built as a temporary residence during the Iskandariah's construction. The Ubudiah mosque, begun in the late nineteenth century though not completed until after the First World War, is a magnificently picturesque structure topped with a constellation of bright golden domes.

Kuala Kangsar is also the home of the Malaysian rubber industry. It was here, in 1877, that nine rubber trees were planted by the British resident Hugh Low, marking the arrival of an industry would within decades vie with tin as the country's most important export.

Taiping succeeded Kuala Kangsar as the capital of Perak in the late nineteenth century. Taiping was during that time the thriving center of the tin industry in the surrounding valley. In the 1890s, disused mining pools at the edge of town were cleverly landscaped to form the beautiful Lake Gardens. The Gardens are still tranquil and restorative, though this once bustling town has become equally quiet. The country's oldest State Museum is within the vicinity, containing artifacts such as ancient weapons, handicrafts and aboriginal implements.

Bukit Larut (formerly Maxwell Hill)
Bukit Larut, located just 10 km from Taiping, is Malaysia's oldest hill station. Bukit Larut is not nearly as developed as the more celebrated Cameron and Genting Highlands. However, it preserves much more of the atmosphere of a colonial hill station, with modest, welcoming bungalows, carefully cultivated gardens, and a pervasive atmosphere of cool quietude. The hill is accessible by four-wheel drive only. A land rover is available at the foot of the hill. It leaves every from 7am to 6pm. Fare: RM2.50 for adults and RM1 for children.

85 km southwest of Ipoh is the naval base town of Lumut. Of interest here is the Naval Museum which houses a collection of ancient weapons and historical artifacts. Lumut is also the departure point for Perak's internationally-known islands, Pulau Pangkor and Pulau Pangkor Laut.

River Terrapin Breeding Project
Located at Bota Kanan, 40km from Ipoh, the project breeds hatchling river terrapins, or Bataqur baska, which are then released into the Perak River. Between November and March, visitors can watch river terrapins lay their eggs along the river's shore. Chalets are available.

Ipoh Cave Temples
The countryside around Ipoh is studded with dramatic limestone outcroppings, many of which are dotted with cave temples. While many of the temples are of recent origin, cave paintings dating back two millenia have been located at one site. The most famous of the temples are Perak Tong and Sam Poh Tong, both built by Chinese monks who arrived in Perak with the wave of Chinese immigrants around the turn of the century. Perak Tong is clustered with over forty Buddha statues, the most impressive of which is almost 13 meters high. Sam Poh Tong, which continues to be inhabited by a community of Buddhist monks and nuns, houses various statues of Buddha among the cavern's natural stalactites and stalagmites. Perak Tong lies 6 km north of Ipoh, and Sam Poh Tong is 5 km to the south. Both shrines make pleasant stopover visits, and at Sam Poh Tong one can enjoy lunch afterward at the tasty vegetarian restaurant on the temple grounds.

Kuala Gula Bird Sanctuary
This coastal bird sanctuary attracts a wide variety of exotic birds, particularly during the migratory season between August and December. Hundreds of species of birds have been sighted here, as well as a number of fascinating mammals, the dusky leaf monkey, smooth otter, and ridge-back dolphin among them. For information, contact the Department of Wildlife and National Parks, Ipoh.

Banding Resort
Midway along the East-West Highway is Temenggur Lake, formed by the the construction of the magnificent Temenggur dam. Set atop an island in the lake is the Banding Resort, a small facility offering basic accommodations and outstanding fishing. The Bandung area is slated for tourist development in the near future, but at the moment the Bandung Resort continues to be a lovely retreat.

Kellie's Castle
The rubber industry grew with extreme rapidity in Malaysia at the beginning of the century, and as one would expect it attracted all sorts of fortune-seekers. One of the most successful of these was William Kellie Smith, a Scot who decided modestly to mark his success by constructing a magnificent castle. As is so often and so romantically the case with such grand gestures, Kellie died before the castle was completed. Equally to be expected is the fact that this mysterious ruin of a half-built castle is even more lovely for being unfinished. The castle stands enigmatically among Kellie's old lands and is visible across the river a few miles along the road from Ipoh to Batu Gajah. Visitors wishing to stroll around this gothic scene can take a sampan across the river or arrange for a tour from Ipoh.




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