|Baitul Anor – one of the royal mansions near Ubudiah Mosque in Kuala Kangsar, Perak, Malaysia|
While the city of Ipoh boasts of British colonial architecture and Chinese shophouses, the former capital of Kuala Kangsar, located 30 km north of Ipoh, impresses visitors with the Malay-Islamic architecture of its royal residences, mansions and mosques. Since the 18th century, this riverside town has been the official seat of the Sultanate of Perak. With its peaceful lanes and gardens, Kuala Kangsar makes for a relaxing day trip from the state capital. Make sure you visit the following notable landmarks on your visit:
Rising above Bukit Chandan (Chandan) Hill is Masjid Ubudiah (Ubudiah Mosque) – one of the most beautiful mosques in Malaysia – with its gold dome and minarets. Built in 1917, this grandiose house of worship was designed Arthur Benison Hubback, a government architect who also designed the Jamek Mosque in Kuala Lumpur, and the railway stations in Kuala Lumpur and Ipoh. Non-Muslims are welcome to take a peek inside, provided you’re dressed modestly and remove your footwear.
|Istana Kenangan, former Sultan’s residence|
A royal residence of Sultan Iskandar Shah, Istana Kenangan was built in 1926 by prominent Malay carpenter Enci Septian. After having been the official residence of the Sultan of Perak between 1931 and 1933, it was later used to host royal receptions and as a guesthouse for palace guests. Today, it houses the Royal Museum of Perak, which unfortunately was closed during our visit.
Masjid Ubidiah is surrounded by some notable royal mansions and traditional houses commissioned by Perak’s royal families. The most imposing example of which is Baitul Anor, built by Raja Kechil Sulong Harun Al Rashid for his third wife, Raja Mentera binti Raja Sir Chulan. The baitul, literally “house” in Arabic, was named after their eldest son, Raja Anor Shah. Presently, this stately residence is abandoned, but plans are underway to renovate it into a museum gallery.
Another beautiful Malay house located next to Ubudiah Mosque is Rumah Meor, which was initially owned and built by a clerk who worked for the 30th Sultan of Perak, Sultan Iskandar. Later, it was bought by Toh Muda Haji Meor Samsudin, a local historian who co-wrote the seminal book on the history of Perak, Hulu Perak Dalam Sejarah, in 1963. Compared to Baitul Anor, this abode is well-preserved as it is currently inhabited by Meor’s family.
This blog post was made possible through Celebrating 1Malaysia Truly Asia – Perak, a media tour held last October 28 to 31, 2013. The event was organized by Gaya Travel Magazine and Tourism Malaysia in celebration of Visit Malaysia Year 2014.
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