Tuesday, August 18, 2009
Welcome To Ipoh
Interested to find out the most fascinating Perak attractions? Ready to be amazed by the natural beauty of Perak? If so, then let me have the pleasure to be your humble travel guide to Perak, or often referred to as "The Land of Grace" for its laid back, timeless beauty.
Perak, also known by its Arabic honorific, Darul Ridzuan is situated on the west coast of Peninsular Malaysia between Kedah in the North and Selangor to the South. The state is divided into 9 districts with Ipoh as its state capital and business and administration centre.
Perak, which means Silver in Malay, derived its name from the silvery tin ore. This state is renowned for its rich tin deposits, scenic places, and historical and cultural heritage.
Before introducing you to some of the most fascinating Perak attractions, let me give you a brief introduction to the history of Perak.
The Perak Sultanate, is actually an extension of the Melaka Sultanate. After Melaka fell into the hands of the Portuguese, Sultan Muzaffar Shah the eldest son of the last Sultan of Melaka established his own dynasty in the state of Perak.
Due to its rich tin deposit, Perak has always been under threat by outside forces. In 1641, the Dutch attempted to establish a monopoly of the tin trade in Perak by building forts on Pangkor Island and at the estuary of the Perak River. These attempts, however, failed.
In the 18th century, Perak faced threats from the Bugis and the Siamese (Thais). With the help of the British, Perak was saved from Siam domination in the 1820s.
The discovery of tin by Long Jaaffar resulted in an influx of Chinese immigrants who came to work in the tin mines here in Perak and in 1896, Perak became one of the four states that formed the Federated Malay States under the British.
There are many amazingly beautiful and unique places to visit in Perak. So, sit back, relax and let's explore some of the Perak attractions together.
Perak is famous for its cave temples. One of the most famous cave temple found here is the Sam Poh Tong temple situated in Gunung Rapat (Mount Rapat), about 5km south of the Ipoh. It is said to be the biggest cave temple in the country.
This temple is really an impressive work of art with various statues of Buddha interspersed among the stalactites and stalagmites.
The walls of this cave are filled with paintings of Chinese gods, deities and the Buddha. Stepping into the cave creates a sense of awe and admiration for the amazing works of art that are found here.
According to legend, this cave was discovered in 1890 by a monk from China. He happened to pass by Ipoh and when he saw the beautiful caves around the area, he decided to make this cave his home and a place for meditation. He remained here for 20 years until his death. Today, nuns and monks who dedicate their lives to studying Buddhism occupy the Sam Poh Tong.
Besides the cave temples, one of the Perak attractions worth mentioning here is the Ipoh Railway Station. It is located at Jalan Panglima Bukit Gantang.
This railway station is famous for its Moorish and Victorian architecture. In fact, its splendour has earned it the title "The Taj Mahal of Ipoh".
The railway station is surrounded by a beautiful floral garden which is simply charming and beautiful. The charm of the railway station and its beautiful surroundings was what earned it its chance to be one of the shooting locations of the Hollywood remake of Anna and the King, starring Jodie Foster and Chow Yuen Fatt.
One of the most interesting Perak attractions is Kellie's Castle which is located about 40 km away from Ipoh, on the outskirts of a small town called Batu Gajah.
This castle was meant to be a home away from home for Scottish Planter, William Kellie Smith in the 20th century.
Some say he built this castle because, being far from home, he desired his new residence to be reminiscent of his home back in Scotland and some even say this castle was built as a castle of love for his wife Agnes, whom he brought to Perak somewhere around 1903.
Work on the castle started in 1915, but was unfortunately halted a few years later with Kellie's sudden death due to pneumonia and because of that, this castle was never completed. The castle, with hidden rooms and a secret tunnel, is a building filled with mysteries and stories of romance.
Another tourist attraction here in Perak is the Teluk Intan Leaning Tower. This leaning tower is situated in Teluk Intan, which is a transit town for those who travel from Kuala Lumpur to Pangkor Island using the coastal route.
The leaning tower was constructed in 1885 and stands at 25.2 metres high. It started to tilt four years after its completion due to an underground stream. On top of this tower is a clock, which, up till today still rings every 15 minutes.
This pagoda like 8-storey building was originally used as a water storage tower to supply water to the town area.
Today, the leaning tower no longer stores water and has become a prominent landmark and a major tourist attraction in Teluk Intan.
Some of you may be wondering, is there all there is to see in Perak? Old buildings, Castles, Cave Temples...Of course not!
Perak is home to the only water theme park in the North of Peninsular Malaysia, the Bukit Merah Laketown Resort. This water theme park is located near the Bukit Merah Interchange along the North-South Expressway.
Within the resort, there is an excellent hotel, entertainment facilities, restaurants, shops, boat facilities, a water theme park and an eco-park. What's more interesting about this theme park is that there is an island within the lake where orang utans can be seen.
The travel destinations stated above are just some of the many many tourist attractions found here in Perak. Since it would be impossible to share with you all the amazing perak attractions on this single page, I will start (and constantly update) a new section on this page specially dedicated to the most amazing and interesting Perak attractions. So, do check back often!
I hope you enjoyed reading about the tourist attractions in Perak as much as I have enjoyed writing it. And by the way, if you are planning a trip to Perak, or have already decided to visit Perak, it would be helpful to have a Perak Map (requires pdf reader) to make your traveling easier. An Ipoh map (requires pdf reader) would also come in handy if you plan to visit Ipoh, the capital of Perak.