Friday, April 25, 2008

Kellie Castle @ Batu Gajah

Unfinished Majestic

Looking Up

Centre Courtyard

I have passed this eerie majestic unfinished castle many times way back in 1986 when I was serving as Harbour Master of Perak. Finally in April 2008 on my way to Universiti Teknologi Petronas at Sri Iskadar, I made up my mind to stop over, look at it closely and feel the mystic of the place. As I made my way up to the castle the caretaker was busy telling mysterious story of the castle to a group of tourist. He was talking about voices in the middle of night and foot steps following lone visitor. It was midnight and I could not down load the last three photos due to system errors. I felt the chill in my spine and decided to abandoned the fourth attempt until daylight. Let me shared with you on some of the shots I have taken, while Lorraine Brecht write up below enlighten you on the unfinished Kellie’s Castle

About 40 kms south of Ipoh along the road that leads to Batu Gajah, a 'castle' suddenly appears on a ridge which slopes down to a river that borders the road. If you're just a passerby & not specifically looking for it, you may not believe your eyes. But yes, it IS a castle (sort of), and yes, you ARE in rural Malaysia. The impressive and unique structure of apricot brick & white stucco, with its variety of arches, a square tower, bay, & semi-circular bastion, actually gives one a sense of displacement.

Inside Rooms

The unfinished Italianate style 'castle' which stands against a background of densely planted rubber trees, was commissioned in 1915 by Wm Kellie Smith, an English rubber baron who was born in Scotland.
Some time after arriving In Malaysia, he purchased 900 acres of land just south of Ipoh and cleared the jungle for his rubber plantation and homely estate which he named Kinta Kellas. The 'castle' was to be their family wing, an addition to their first house on the property. Just behind the unfinished wing are the crumbling ruins of their first Manor home which was built of brick & wood more than 120 years ago. Because the new wing was rather grandiose, by local mansion standards of the time, it was nicknamed "Kellie's Castle" as well as "Kellie's Folly".

Two different design windows

In the middle of its construction, which to this point had already taken 10 years, Smith returned to England. It is speculated that he went to England with his daughter to reunite with his wife & son, and then went to Portugal to buy a lift for his new wing where he got sick and died of pneumonia in Lisbon Portugal in 1926. He is buried there in the British cemetery. His family sold the estate & never returned. Shrouded in romance, mystery, & historical inaccuracies, the 'castle' was never completed.

View behind the fan

Today, a company has taken over the management of the castle and has converted it into a tourist attraction. Admission is only RM4 for adults & RM2 for children. They have an excellent brochure for sale at RM3. They also offer a package tour of Batu Gajah town.


cakapaje said...

Salam Dato',

Thank you for this entry. I have always wanted to go there after reading about it some many years back. Had a chance some 5 years back when I had to make trips to Universiti Petronas nearby, but the trips were hectic and could not find the time then. Its not that far from KL; but to go there just to visit, I don't think so :)

jaflam said...

Salam Shah,
The problem about not stopping at the Castle was that it’s kind of haunted you about what’s really there.

At least that feeling will never be with me again. Actually Batu Gajah itself is a quite an interesting town to visit. If any of you come to Ipoh for kuey keow and kopi don’t forget to visit Kellie.

Zabs said...

Salam DJ,
Seperta tuan saya juga telah puluhan kali melalui kawasan itu semasa berulang alik ke Lumut. Tetapi tidak seperti tuan, saya masih belum dapat memberhentikan kereta untuk melihat istana ini.
Terima kasih atas N3 dan gambar2 yang menarik yang telah dipaparkan.

Kak Teh said...

dato J, I have always wanted to know more about this castle. Someone contacted me and asked me to do a bit of research on this side about it. Alas I was too busy. This must surely be a place to visit when we go back nanti.

jaflam said...

Salam Zabs,
Nak cari masa untuk singgah bukanlah mudah ... kerana kita selalu mengejar masa dalam menjalankan tugas bila melalui tempat tu.

Saya bernasib baik kali ini kerana ada masa sementara menunggu anak menjalani Educamp di UTP.

Rita Ho said...

Hi Jaff ... This post of yours is a nice walk down memory lane for me. I visited Kellie's Castle in 1995. It was a detour on a road trip with friends who had heard of the castle. I didn't know about it until then. Comparing your photos with those I took then, it looks like whoever is managing it now did not over restore the place for tourism - which is a good thing. What fascinated me most about the castle besides its history and the legends about the secret tunnels and Smith's still living spirit are the intricate designs on the walls and ceilings that symbolizes his love for his wife. He apparently wanted the castle to be like the Taj Mahal and imported building materials from from India and employed Indian artists to work on them.

Is it getting popular as a tourist attraction? I hope it is.

jaflam said...

Hello Rita,
Actually as you have observed they have maintained the Castle quite well without changing its original state. The architecture and design was unique such that even in its unfinished form its stand majestic and grand. Kellie has a very high appreciation in art, design and love.

It is a must visit tourist attraction in Ipoh/ Batu Gajah.

jaflam said...

Salam Kak Teh,
I am sure it would be an interesting story if you could write fully about the Kellie's Castle.

His love, the mystics, materials and design of the castle will make an interesting plot.

Pak Idrus said...

jaflam, thanks for the posting. I have visited it and enjoy my moments in time there. Indeed such a majestic building and should be preserved for eternity. Have a nice day.

jaflam said...

Pak Idrus,
Thanks for dropping by, they have done quite a good job so far in preserving the building. Perhaps more publicity is required to attract more tourists to that place. Perak State has to package their tourist destinations and publicized them. Ipoh, Batu Gajah, Lumut and Kuala Kangsar are within reasonable driving distance and interesting place to visit.

Kerp (Ph.D) said...

salam Dato J!

ahh, your entry brings back quite a memory to myself too. My dad's from Batu Gajah and to us kids Kellie's castle was always about ghost and haunting. everytime balik kampung we would sleep all the way from KL and make sure dad to wake us up just in time to view this majestic castle, either day or night, depends on the time of the trip. even now i think it is just weird to have a castle right in the middle of nowhere, like a sorethumb. maybe that is the reason it becomes so mysterious.

ruby ahmad said...

Hello Jaflam,

Hey nice informative entry on Kelly's Castle.

What a sad turn of event for Smith and his family.

For just a family dwelling this is humongous! All those secret tunnels must be escape routes from Japanese perhaps?

Hey I lived in Batu Gajah when I was little..he he. Nice quiet town then.

Raden Galoh said...

Salam Datuk...
I've heard about this castle so many a time that I keep on telling MH that we should check this place out...Ada ghostly sightings tak there? (Konon nak nagi ghost hunters ni...hehehehe)

Mat Salo said...

Bang DJ,

The last time a few years back when we went on a family trip to Pangkor/Lumut, we detoured specifically to see this place.

The labor of love required to build this place in the middle-of-nowhere (in those days) is phenomenal!

I understand the it was also used as a backdrop in the Jodie Foster movie "Anna & The King" but I don't recall specifically which scenes. Need to pull that DVD out again and check. Or was it my imagination?

Also the surrounding jungle trails are quite popular among 'weekend warrior' mountain biking fraternity...

jaflam said...

Hai Kerp,
Nice to have you back in good health and spirit. Nothing like childhood memories, its kind of stick up in your mind, like that Kellie's Castle in the middle of nowhere by the river.

I remember my first meeting with the ketua kampung and boat owners at Kampung Gajah their slang was so thick, I could not understand a word they said. Have to use my local staff as interpreter.... my very fond memories though.

jaflam said...

Elo Ruby,
Actually Batu Gajah is small with features like my home town. Somehow passing through that town gave me a good feeling.... may be reminding me of my bachelor days rushing up and down from Teluk Intan to Ipoh to attend the State Assembly meeting. On one occasion I forgot to bring my jacket and have to rent from a tailor for a day use.

jaflam said...

Salam Raden G,
If you bring Mambang Hijau to the Kellie Castle I am sure the lingering sprit will took off to the bush.

So you and MH are advised to keep safe distance from the Castle.... to give the roamings spirit freedom of space heheeee.

jaflam said...

Mat Salo,
Thanks for transiting here and giving more info on the Castle especially the mountain bike track nearby.

I wish more Malay traditional buildings and Istana have been preserved for heritage sake.

FiSHY@iKe said...

Good day, captain!

It's been awhile since I'm here, to many stuffs playing inside my mind but already settled (i guess so). First things first, congrats to your son/daughter (I'm not sure which one) for the educamp invitation. It's not an easy call. I was turned down two times though(sigh). By the way, did i mention my grandmother stays in Batu Gajah and me soon going to transfer to Batu Gajah also? :P The next time you come around, maybe I can show you some place in Batu Gajah then. We can go eat 'mee kicap' and the best food in town, my grandma's home cooking! Have a great day captain!

p/s: Good luck to your son/ daughter for the educamp!

edelweiss said...

Salam Dato'.

Great pics. Thanks for the posting. I always wanted to go but u know lah...mcm mcm alasan dan halangan.

I'll add Kellie Castle in the list for Places of Interest 2008 visit.

Thanks Dato.

jaflam said...

Hai Ike,
Thanks for dropping by and the invitation. Will definitely go for your grandma mee kicap next time i pass that way. Congrats on your posting to Batu Gajah good place to serve.

Unless she receive better offer my daughter will be joining pre medic at UM. Salam.

jaflam said...

Hello Edelweiss,
Hope you will make it to Kellie Castle this year, you will like it.

Have a great weekend.