Monday, November 23, 2009

Kuala Lumpur ICONS - our heritage

One of the earliest known photographs of Kuala Lumpur shows what the Selangor padang looked like in 1884. ( photo credit: Kuala Lumpur 100 years/published by th Kuala Lumpur Municipal Council)

In his message for the centenary publication of Kuala Lumpur 100 years 1859 - 1959, the late Sultan of Selangor, Hisamuddin Alam Shah, His Royal Highness wrote:

'... the original pioneers could not have known that they had established a trading centre which turned out to be ideally situated in relation to the country as whole and with reasonable access to a port. This is however , what they did and fortune smiled upon the growth of Kuala Lumpur from its first days'.

Fast forward to 1972. Kuala Lumpur was conferred city status on 1 Feb, 1972. Two years later, on 1 Feb 1974, an agreement was reached between the State of Selangor and the Federal Government creating the Federal Territory of Kuala Lumpur.

I'd like to give a loud 'shoutout' about some notable buildings that define Kuala Lumpur. So, in my trusty Toyota of 14 years, let's tour Kuala Lumpur. Hopefully, you'll want to discover more as there are many more gems that make up my city.

Masjid Jame is a fitting start to a KL tour as it was at this site, the confluence of the Klang and Gombak Rivers where the early tin pioneers came ashore in 1857 and found tin overland.

Masjid Jame, 1909, is a replica of a north Indian mosque and was built on the site of the first Malay cemetery. The prayer hall is surmounted by 3 domes and opens out on to a walled 'sahn' or courtyard. Two minarets flank the composition while numerous smaller towers complete the look. It was designed by British architect, A.B. Hubbock. Masjid Jame was the main Friday mosque until 1967 when the National Mosque was built.

The first permanent railway station was built in 1892 by Governor Sir Cecil Clementi Smith. The present station along Jalan Sultan Hishamuddin , on approximately the same site, was opened in August, 1910. It is one of the most architectually interesting railway stations in the world. Surmounted by minarets and cupolas and decorated with keyhole arches and scalloped eaves, the Moorish architecture is a popular image of Kuala Lumpur. The architect A B Hubbock worked for the PWD in India prior to being appointed acting architect for the FMS (Federation of Malay States).

The Royal Selangor Club, the mock Tudor style club house was built to serve the recreational needs of the large influx of westerners into KL. It faces the Sultan Abdul Samad Building. The club became known as the' Spotted Dog' apparently because the wife of one of the members used to tie her two dalmatians at the club steps to sip her gin slings.

The Abdul Samad Building, the sprawling 'Moorish' style building was originally the State Secretariat. In 1894 the Governor of the Straits Settlements, Sir Charles Mitchell, placed a yen note, several Straits coins, a hunk of tin and a copy of the Selangor Journal under the foundation stone. It was generally acknowledged that its design ws 'too far ahead of it's time' with the 140 feet Central Clock Tower, curving archways and the bulbous copper domes. The architect was A.G. Norman and C.E.Spooner was the State Engineer. It now houses the Supreme Court.

Muzium Negara, Jalan Damansara was built in 1963 by architect Ho Kok Hoe. The design was inspired by the Malay palaces and vernacular Malay architecture. On both sides of the entrance are two immense murals in Italian glass mosaic depicting history and culture.It replaced the earlier Selangor Museum which was destroyed during World war Two. Our first Prime Minister, Tunku mooted the idea for a National Museum to house the nation's historical and cultural treasure as well as specimens of flora and fauna.

Tugu Negara, National Monument , 1966 was built to commemorate Malaysian national heroes.. The bronze sculpture by American sculptor,Felix de Weldon, depicts the victory of the armed forces over the communists during the 12- year Emergency. The Cenotaph commemorates the war dead of WW1 and WW2.

Masjid Negara , located along Jalan Sultan Hishamuddin, was built in 1965 by Jabatan Kerja Raya (PWD). It is the centre of Islamic activities in Malaysia. Its 73 metre -high minaret looms into view towering over the 13 acre complex which comprises the Grand Hall, library, meeting hall, ceremonial rooms and a mausoleum. It was built to accommodate 8,000 worshippers. The marble mosque is surrounded by verandas screened by white grilles in traditional Islamic style.

Kuala Lumpur boasts of more architectural heritage. This quick tour for this blog serves to show the uniqueness of the buildings that also define our city. People over the world now realize that conservation of heritage reaps manifold - preserving for posterity, keeping historic values and as one of the tools of promoting tourism.

Likewise, Kuala Lumpur with its rich blend of architecture and history must do all it can to preserve its treasures to retain an awareness of our history and give continuity to our lifestyle.It is said that a city without visible heritage is like a man without a memory. Hence, it is our responsibility to balance development and conservation for our children, for the future .

So, come on - arm yourself with a camera. Be prepared to be surprised... there's more to discover in KL !

reference: Kuala Lumpur -100 years
Published by The Kuala Lumpur Municipal Council

Guide to Kuala Lumpur Notable Buildings
Pertubuhan Akitek Malaysia
on the occasion of The Centenary Celebrations, June, 1959.


  1. Hi Keats, wonderful infor of our beautiful KL. I seem to be taking lots of picture everywhere except KL..maybe because I am always at shopping centres hehe! Just did a vote for you, well, I do that everytime I pop over as I think you deserve it, your posts are always so informative and well prepared. Have a blessed week ahead my friend :)

  2. Beautiful buildings - what wonderful diversity you have there. And I love the picture from 100 years ago. Thanks for the tour!

  3. I enjoyed this fun walk through the landmarks of KL, Keats! The Spotted Dog actually gives out trophies in the form of dalmations (resin, bronze etc) for some of their competitions and challenges. I've seen them in the display case. The food there is pretty frightful, though. Suitable only for the undiscerning palates of lawyers. Shudder!

    I gave you ten stars! Keep going, my friend!

  4. THank you for the tour, you have been a perfect guide!

  5. Whoa 100 years then and now so much of a difference, thanks.

  6. Hi
    M.Kate, thanks so much for your kind support, dear friend :)) Do point your camera and give us your amazing shots of KL. Am waiting!!

    adrienne, yes,Kl's icons and more do astound visitors tho we are a small city.

    ~Covert_Operations'78~, Whoa! thanks for the high score, my friend. Am truly grateful. I should keep a lookout for those dalmatian trophies the next time I'm invited to the club.

    Laura in Paris, thank you! I need to brush up on more interesting bites of info to earn my badge. In fact, it's always a bonus to get a good guide who will make the difference to a tour.

    CheaHS@n, was it in the twinkling of an eye??? The amazing changes and life is soooo different now. Thank you for popping in.

  7. I like the 100 years ago picture of KL. I wonder if there is any town in Malaysia that still look like that today.

  8. Very interesting post
    so many information about your country :-)
    Thanks (@^.^@)

  9. Wow, wonderful shots and history! Have a great week, my dear :)

  10. Hi
    Zue Murphy, Thanks so much for popping in! Great to see you:)) Malaysia/Kl has grown by leaps and bounds and the look is very different. Even our kampongs do not look the same anymore.

    Anya, thank you! When you're in Malaysia, do visit me and be my guest.

    ROSIDAH, I think I did pretty well with the shots too myself!! Hope it is not too wet in Indonesia which is what it is here.Best regards to you.

  11. I love seeing the contrast of the historical photo compared to the current modern photos. Very nice post! I am very glad you shared.

  12. Just hope the gomen keep the old buildings and no more of krazy ideas of demolition, love the pictures. Xiexie ക

  13. Hi
    Rosey Pollen,thank you!an amazing contrast indeed!

    Bananaz, to know Kl is to love KL! also, to know Malaysia is to love Malaysia:))).

  14. I love KL! It's such a beautiful charming city except for the traffic jam! : )

  15. Hi
    foongpc, you're right! We certainly need to have an improved public transport infrastructure and lessen the woes of commuters. I would love to take a bus or a train to places and leave my car at home:)


Great to have you popping in!