Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Kellie's Castle

The unfinished Kellie's Castle stands majestically over Kinta River near Batu Gajah. The castle, with its four-storey tower (legend has it that it was supposed to be six storeys high) was an ambitious project by William Kellie Smith who intended to make it the hub of social life for the area's wealthy colonial planters and administrators.

William Kellie Smith was from a village in Scotland known as Kellas. He arrived in the then undeveloped Malaya when he was 20 in 1890. He made a fortune from concessions from the state government to clear forests in Perak.

With his fortune, he returned home to marry his Scottish sweetheart, Agnes and brought her to Malaya in 1903. A year later, they were blessed with a daughter, Helen . William Smith desperately wanted a son and heir to take over his empire. Finally, Agnes gave birth to a son, Anthony in 1915.

Moorish arches and walls embellished with Greco-Roman designs give the castle a colonial look. The walls are red bricks and wooden window arches are of solid wood. The castle has a high stately columns, a grand living room, bedrooms, guest rooms, a worship room, rooms for servants, store rooms and many other rooms.

Beside the castle, there is a huge tree which was given the nick name The Bear Tree.

Evidence of the luxurious lifestyle intended for this mansion lies in a bar room adjacent to a wine cellar room with a special wine racks. There is a secret tunnel from the cellar room but it was sealed by the museum authorities in 2003 for security reason. Where the secret tunnel leads to remain a mystery. Some speculate it serves as an emergency escape route to a nearby Hindu temple.

William Kellie Smith also plan to make a portion in the main hall into a family's altar. They were Catholic.

"Apricot Brick" which comes in various design can be seen mainly in the tower block and the new wing. It is over 100 years old.

The door and window panel are of Chengal wood which is believed to be over 200 years old. The wood is still strong with no visible decay.

Beside the castle lie the ruins of Smith's first family home, Kellas House. Even these ruins tell stories of yesteryear when it had also served as a clinic for the rubber planter's hired hands from India.

Some of the remnant of the marble can still be seen around Kellas House. These marble are imported from Italy to England and it is shipped to Malaya sometime in 1891. It is mainly found in the bathroom.

This is actually the ventilation hole for the tunnel and the underground rooms. I initially mistaken it as a well.

Its reputation as a must-see was enhanced after the filming of Anna & The King in 1999 starring Jodie Foster and Chow Yun Fatt.

There is a Hindu temple, Sri Mahamariamah Ladang Kinta about a kilometre away from the castle which has Smith's statue among the Hindu deities. The temple also has a story to tell. As stated earlier, Kellie wanted a son so badly that one of the Madras laborers advised him to pray to Amman (a Hindu Goddess) whom will grant their wishes. So, he prayed to the Goddess and Anthony was borned. As a token of appreciation, Kellie a Hindu Temple for the Goddess

Smith contracted pneumonia while in Lisbon, Portugal in 1926 to source for the elevator for his castle. The devastated wife decided to pack up and return home to Scotland and sold the castle away.

This is supposed to be the lift well for the first "Bucket Lift" in Malaya should Smith did not succumb to his fate in Portugal.

Along the corridors, there had been a few sightings that the spirit of William Kellie Smith can be seen wandering here.

This is the castle master room. Simply spacious and awesome. All the rooms has natural ventilation to cope with the heat and humidity in this part of the world.

From the Master Room, William can peep through the balcony to see the activity at the guard house.

Helen (Smith's daughter) room is rather unique as it has blue ceiling plaster which was completed around 1910. Inside this room, some visitors had claimed they saw Helen emerge from the door for a few seconds and then disappear. She was described as a 6 year old child in white blouse and curly hair.

There are many emergency spiral staircases from the upper floor leading to underground dungeon, probably as a mean to escape in case of an emergency.

The most significant feature of the castle is at its rooftop courtyard, also known as "Para Pad". This place is where Kellie Smith may stand and see the surrounding area of his estate.

The rooftop courtyard might also be used for family leisure activity as well as formal function with the wealthy countrymen that reside in Malaya then. Visitors need to be extra careful here as safety features were not installed at the roof top (as the castle construction was never completed by Smith) such as fences and guard to prevent free fall to the ground below

Kellie's Castle is a beauty and I'm happy I finally made it here. Entrance fee is RM4 for Malaysian and RM5 for foreigner.


wenn said...

u r so near to Ipoh already..

escape said...

i love old structures with bricks as its walls. this one is indeed great and i love the hallways but the rooftop is definitely the best place for me to stay.

feature more of this!

ChrisAu said...

i stayed in Ipoh but I didn't visited it before..haha

christine phang said...

awesome place...

Robo said...

It's awesome! Thanks for sharing. I'll be visiting the Castle soon. :)