A great way to learn more about a city or place you are visiting is to go on a heritage tour. In Malaysia, you can also consider going on a royal trail. Malaysian Tourist Guide Council (MTGC) president Jimmy Leong shares the difference between the two.
“A heritage trail traces the significant historical events of an era, including tangible landmarks such as buildings or places in a town or city – for example the old forts and Dutch buildings in Melaka,” he shared.
“A royal trail, meanwhile, uncovers landmarks linked to the royal family such as the old/new palaces and also how they lived, the outstanding things they did, and their contributions to the state.”
“It traces not only tangible historical landmarks of a place but also the story behind the lives of the royal family,” Leong added.
He cited an example: It is said that in his later years, the first Sultan of Modern Johor – Sultan Abu Bakar – had a close friendship with England’s Queen Victoria. In 1891, during Sultan Abu Bakar’s visit to England, he was personally received by the queen, and was invited to dine and stay with her at Windsor Castle.
Queen Victoria held Sultan Abu Bakar in high esteem and even signed herself off as “an affectionate friend” in a letter to him that same year. She was reported to have highly valued the silver model of Albert Memorial that he had sent her during her Golden Jubilee in 1887.
According to Leong, there are several royal trails worth checking out in Malaysia. They include the royal trail in Selangor, which is one of the largest; Kedah, which traces the influence of old Thailand or Siam; Johor, which traces the close relations with the British; Melaka, with its Portuguese and Dutch influences; Negri Sembilan with its Minangkabau influences; and Perak.
The Selangor Royal Trail covers the districts of Kuala Selangor, Kuala Langat and Klang. Tourism Selangor spokesperson Ahmad Nazri Tashriq Rahmat said that this trail promotes the history, culture and sultanate of the state.
There are 11 sites in the royal trail, including the Blue Mosque (Sultan Salahuddin Abdul Aziz Mosque), the Kuala Selangor District Historical Museum, Busut Malawati, Royal Mausoleum, Istana Bandar, Sultan Ala’eddin Royal Mosque, Alam Shah Palace and Sultan Suleiman Royal Mosque.
“These places are interconnected, not just by land, but also through their history,” Ahmad Nazri said.
The Selangor Royal Trail is available from registered travel agents and agencies, as well as via local councils (Majlis Daerah Kuala Selangor, Majlis Daerah Kuala Langat, Majlis Perbandaran Klang) and Tourism Selangor’s social media pages (Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Weibo and WeChat).
You could also get in touch with appointed community hosts like Pemandu Pelancong (from Klang, Kuala Selangor and Kuala Langat) for more information on the tours.
“The cultural and heritage sectors are moving in tandem with the tourism industry to promote Selangor as a world-class tourism and cultural destination in preparation for Visit Malaysia 2020,” said Ahmad Nazri.
Here’s what part of the Selangor Royal Trail entails:
The trail begins in Bukit Malawati, where Selangor’s first known administration was constituted. This is also where the tombs of the first three Sultans of Selangor are located.
Many significant events took place at Bukit Malawati. One such event was when Sultan Ibrahim Shah, the second ruler of Selangor, defeated the Dutch with the help of his allies in 1785.
The Kuala Selangor Museum continues the historical tale and provides a more in-depth account of the accession of the current sultanate and the Royal Selangor institution created by Raja Lumu or Sultan Sallehuddin Shah, the first Selangor ruler, in 1766.
The seven sections of the museum illustrate Kuala Selangor’s history in chronological order.
Another historical site here is a lighthouse built by the British in 1907. Known as Rumah Api Kuala Selangor, it helps to guide ships crossing the Straits of Melaka and serves as a landmark notifying ships entering the waters of Selangor.
During its heyday, Jugra – located in the Kuala Langat district – was the state capital and this is where Sultan Abdul Samad (the third sultan) built his palace, Istana Jugra, in 1875.
The palace served as his official residence and he resided there until his death in 1898. The Jugra Insitu Museum, situated at the foot of Bukit Jugra, is one of the landmarks on the Royal Trail that is gazetted as a National Heritage site.
A former district police station and prison constructed in 1878 by British police officer Captain Harry Charles Syres, it now serves as a museum with three exhibition halls.
Meanwhile, Istana Bandar is also situated in Jugra. It was built in 1905 by Sultan Alaeddin Sulaiman Shah who was knighted by the British with the Order of St Michael and St George in 1912 (and conferred the title ‘Sir’) and served as his residence until his death in 1938.
The building was built with quality materials of wood and marble with architectural influences from the Middle-East, India and China.
The Royal Heritage Town of Klang, which is one of the oldest towns in Malaysia, is the final stop in the Royal Trail. The best way to see it is by visiting Alam Shah Palace which was completed during the reign of Sultan Hisamuddin Alam Shah on the site of Astana Mahkota Puri (1899).
The installation and coronation of Sultan Salahuddin Abdul Aziz Shah and Sultan Sharafuddin Idris Shah took place here.
Also in Klang is the Sultan Suleiman Royal Mosque, which was designed by British architect Leofric Kesteven and constructed in 1932 as a gift from the British government to Sultan Alaeddin Suleiman Shah.
The Royal Trail concludes at Kolej Islam Sultan Alam Shah, formerly Istana Jemaah, the palace where Sultan Sharafuddin was born in 1945.