Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Bukit Melawati

Bukit Melawati was the administration centre and stronghold of the Selangor sultanate in the late 18th and early 19th century. Bukit Melawati was the administration centre for the Government of the State of Selangor until 1857 before transferring to Jugra and then Klang.

There is a tram service at the foot of the hill for a fee of RM5 for adults and RM2.50 for children which will bring visitor around the complex. However, I really recommend visitors to walk instead to really appreciate the beauty the fort complex has to offer.

The small miniature lighthouse structure at the foot of the hill. The lighthouse is a iconic structure for this town.

The hill also features a mini amphitheatre and a traditional games museum.  

The once heavily fortified fort stood on the summit. It was built during the reign of Sultan Ibrahim from 1782 to 1826 to fight against the Dutch. Selangor had been sucked into the struggle between the Dutch and the rulers of Johor and Riau.

The fort fell to the Dutch in 1784 who renamed it "Altingsburg Fort" after the Dutch governor-general. But they didn't hold its ground for long. Sultan Ibrahim recaptured the fort in January 1785 in a daring night attack with the aid of warriors from Pahang and mercenaries from Permatang. The Sultan dumped large rocks on the mouth of the Selangor River to foil counter attacks by the Dutch. The victory was significant as it was the first time that a local sultan had been able to retake his fort from a foreign power.

This hill has become a battlefield importance because it had on a number of occasions become a battlefield involving the Dutch and consequently the British.

The view from the top of Bukit Melawati is panoramic. On a clear day, one can see the Malacca Straits and the cargo ships plying through the Straits.

The Chinese nicknamed the hill as "Ma Lau San" which loosely translated as Monkey Hill. This is because the hill is swarmed by several families of Silver-Leafed langur monkeys and Long-tailed Macaques. These animals are born in the wild and may be dangerous if provoked. I am not very comfortable to be around these monkeys as they pretty much outnumber me and I just could not imagine what will happen if I was attacked by them.

In the complex are found various relics of the past, including the protective walls of the fort, the palace ground, a lighthouse, royal graves, seven wells, a flat stone used for beheading offenders, a 100-step ladder, a poisonous well and several cannons pointed at the mouth of the Selangor River. It is thought that the site hides an underground passage used to store treasure.


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