Situated about 80 km north of Pangkor, the town of Kuala Kangsar is notably one of the more interesting venues to visit in the "Silver State" of Malaysia. It is a neat and attractive town with green parks and beautiful flora. It hardly sees tourists. The city is a good day trip when you stay in or around Pangkor Island.
Kuala Kangsars' history
The city was founded by Sultan Muzafar after a period of confusion and civil war in Perak. This happened in the 1740's. The Sultan had a dispute with his brother and decided to move up Sungai Perak and rule the inner districts of Perak from Kuala Kangsar.
He build a palace and a fort. Various ministers were appointed to help him in his royal duties. As time went by, KK (as it also known) became an important meeting point and the "royal residence" for Malay rules.
What to visit?
Today, the surviving monuments from the past provide visitors a snapshot of Kangsar royal and religious importance and its magnificent architecture.
One fine example is Istana Kenangan. It is the old palace of Sultan Iskander Shah (1918-1938) who was the 30th Sultan of Perak.
Also known as Istana Lembah (and occasionally Istana Tepas), the palace now houses the Royal Museum of Perak.
The museum shows the State's royal and traditional regalia, photographs and family trees of the royal family. The palace was build in 1926 and renovated in 1960. It is the only palace in Malaysia build without nails and woven bamboo walls.
The carpenter, Haj Suffian from Seberang Perai, designed it based on the shape of a sword. The walls are made of woven sliced bamboo in diamond shaped pattern called kelari. The roofs are in the shape of the "five ridges" of a traditional Malay house.
Istana Iskandariah is the official residence of the Sultan of Perak. It is build in 1930 and located at Bukit Chandan. The residence overlooks the Perak river. The architecture is based on Moorish style drawing on influences from Indian Mogul Muslim palaces. It is said that the famous kris Tamang Sari, used by the legendary Malaccan warrior, Hang Tuah, is kept at this palace.
The Ubudiah Mosque is within walking distance. The golden domes are a well known landmark in Malaysia. After spending many years in Malaysia, I dare to say it's one of the most beautiful Mosques in Malaysia, at least for what I have seen. The Mosque was build by the government architect AB Hubback. There are Moorish as Mogul style elements in the design.
The foundation stone was laid in 1913 but the completion of the Mosque was delayed by the outbreak of World War I. The marble used in the Mosque came out of Italy. However, in 1917 the Mosque was officially opened.
In the compound stands the Royal Mausoleum. This houses the graves of the Perak royalty and their family members. Ubiah Mosque was state Mosque until completion of the Sultan Idris Shah II Mosque in Ipoh (although in my opinion this Mosque is far more beautiful).
Nearby the Ubiah Mosque is the Sultan Azlan Shah Gallery. It's a former palace which was called Istana Hulu or Istana Kota. It was build in 1903 during the reign of the 30th Sultan of Perak.
The Istana Kenangan is also known as Istana Lembah dan Istana Tepas. It was built as a temporary mausoleum for Duli Yang Maha Mufia Sultan Iskander Shah (Marhum Kadasallah) while awaiting the completion of Istana Iskanderiah.
The Istana Kenangan was build in 1926 and it is now converted into the Royal Perak Museum. It is worth a visit showing plenty of artefacts.
It shouldn't be a surprise the palace area also contains several beautiful Malay (some with clear English features) houses. Some are nicely restored to its former glory, others could have been done better. The house in the photo above is over 100 years old but I feel the restoration is so so done.
It is worth to get a bicycle or walk around the area of the palace and see for yourself some of these heritage houses.
The presence of the Sultan in town justifies a military regiment. You will see quite a few remains of no longer in use vehicles in the town center.
The small Christian community has a very nice little church which is worth a short visit. It's located almost next to the main bus station in town.
Stay and Getting there
Kuala Kangsar is easy to reach by bus from Kuala Lumpur, Ipoh and Penang with several bus services a day. From Lumut you can take the transnasional buses to Penang which stop in Kuala Kangsar (other intercity buses do not pass KK).
If you have your own transport, take the road out of Lumut and follow directions Ipoh on State road number 5. (direction Ayar Tawar-Bruas-Manong-Kuala Kangsar)
Coming from Kuala Lumpur or Penang (using the highway), take the Kuala Kangsar junction, it's a few more km further to the city center.
There's are several hotels in the town. In fact, as the town is quite stretched out, especially in the direction of Taiping, you can find some very good hotels for decent prices. Check here which hotels we offer in KK
For more about daytrip from Pangkor island. please click here