Perak, Malaysia: Heritage Tour of Ipoh [SP]
|Ipoh – a city where heritage meets the hills. View from Perak Tong Cave Temple.|
The capital of the state of Perak, Ipoh – just two and half hours by bus north of Kuala Lumpur – started out as a small town at the highest navigable point of the Kinta River in the 1820s. It later grew in prominence at the turn of the 20th century when more British tin-mining companies were set up near the city, surpassing the popular mining town of Gopeng, 20 km south of the city. In 1937, Ipoh became the capital of Perak, replacing Taiping. Today, the “City that Tin Mining Built” is known for its colonial heritage buildings and karst hills. Here are the top tourist attractions you should not miss in Ipoh:
|The Ipoh Railway Station is nicknamed the “Taj Mahal of Ipoh” by locals|
IPOH RAILWAY STATION
Our first stop upon arriving in Ipoh was the beautiful, white-washed railway station. Opened in 1935 after years of delay, this building was designed by Arthur Benison Hubback, a British architectural assistant to the Director of Public Works, who also designed the railway station and Jamek Mosque in Kuala Lumpur. Affectionately known as the “Taj Mahal of Ipoh” by locals, the gorgeous and stately structure stands across other notable heritage buildings such as the town hall and courthouse.
|The Birch Memorial Clock Tower was built to commemorate the death of a British colonial leader|
BIRCH MEMORIAL CLOCK TOWER
Located across the Ipoh state mosque just a few minutes walk from the railway station, the Birch Memorial Clocktower was erected in 1909 in memory of James Wheeler Woodford Birch, the first British Resident of Perak, who was assassinated by the followers of local Malay chieftain Datuk Maharaja Lela on November 2, 1875. One of the controversial characteristics of the memorial is the image of the Prophet Muhammed. On the civilisation panel, 44 famous figures in world history were portrayed. The image of the last Prophet was painted over in the 1990s due to objection from Muslims to the depiction of the Prophet.
|Perak Tong Cave Temple houses one of the largest Buddha images in Malaysia|
PERAK TONG CAVE TEMPLE
The city is surrounded by limestone hills, some of which house Chinese cave temples. We visited Perak Tong (Perak Cave), which houses a statue of Buddha believed to be the tallest and largest of its kind in Malaysia when first commissioned. Inside, a steep staircase leads up to the top of its hill where there are wonderful panoramic views of Ipoh and its surroundings. Despite only having little time to explore the cave, I managed to race to the very top to take a few snapshots together with the other Filipino travel bloggers. This cave temple does charge for admission, but donations are gladly accepted.
|Cruise around the lake at Gunung Lang Recreational Park|
GUNUNG LANG RECREATIONAL PARK
Located a short distance away from Perak Tong Cave Temple, Gunung Lang is a recreational park nestled between limestone hills off Jalan Kuala Kangsar, about five kilometers away from the city center. Here, a magnificent lake is hemmed in by impressive limestone outcrops. A boat ride allows visitors to reach a landscaped garden across the lake, which also houses a small zoo, watchtowers, playground and a village square. We managed to circle the lake aboard the ferry boat, admiring the jade-colored water brimming with carp, turtles and occasional monitor lizard.
The ferry service operates 8:00 AMt until 6:30 to 7:00 pm (lunch break in afternoon) daily (Friday, only 8:00 AM to 4:00 PM). Tickets cost MYR 3 per adult; and MYR 1.50 per child for a return trip.
|The old shophouses of Ipoh, the capital of the state of Perak|
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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