Secret tunnel believed to be escape route during conflict

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  • Wednesday, 21 Jan 2015

History unearthed: A secret escape tunnel built by the people of Mandahiling found at Bukit Nanas in Kuala Lumpur.

PART of a secret tunnel, believed to be centuries old, stretching from Bukit Nanas to the Klang river bank has been unearthed.

The 10m tunnel was discovered six months ago by a contractor hired by Kuala Lumpur City Hall (DBKL) to rectify a collapsed slope. However, the authorities kept the discovery under wraps until Monday.

DBKL Civil Engineering and Drainage Department director Tan Kheng Chok said DBKL alerted the Malaysian Historical Society about the tunnel.

“We believe the tunnel is part of a labyrinth of underground passageways that had been forgotten over time,” he said.

Tan said the narrow tunnel might have been used as an escape route during the Klang Civil War in 1866.

“It will be turned into a tourist attraction,” he said.

Tan said the hillslope collapsed on May 2013 but rectification work did not take place until February last year.

It was learnt that the Mandahiling community populated the hill, originally known as Bukit Gombak, in the mid-19th century. The Godang Palace belonging to Tuanku Raja Asal, or Ja Asai, sat on the hilltop.

Federal Territories Minister Datuk Seri Tengku Adnan Tengku Mansor expressed his excitement over the findings when he visited the tunnel on Monday.

“Bukit Nanas is a historical site as recorded by the Selangor Historical Society.

“During the Klang war between Raja Mahadi and Tengku Kudin about 147 years ago, the name Bukit Gombak was changed to Bukit Nanas,” said Tengku Adnan.

He recounted the story of how Raja Mahadi had refused to pay taxes to Sultan Abdul Samad.

“Raja Mahadi sought the help of the rich Sutan Naposo and the Mandahiling community headed by Raja Asal.

“Tengku Kudin, who was Sultan Abdul Samad’s son-in-law, sought the help of Bendahara Pahang, Wan Ahmad.

“Raja Mahadi’s side set up base in Bukit Gombak and used pineapple plants to fortify their defence. They believed the thorns from the plants would injure the barefoot attackers and ward off charms from the enemy.

“In the end, Raja Mahadi, Sutan Naposo and Raja Asal lost the battle.

“The rows of pineapple plants on the hill gave it its identity as Bukit Nanas.

“Today the Bukit Nanas Forest Reserve still stands tall in the midst of the cosmopolitan city, surrounded by rapid developments,” said Tengku Adnan.

An information board has been erected outside the tunnel, stating that the tunnel shares similarities with tunnels found in Kota Raja Mahdi in Klang and Kota Melawati in Kuala Selangor as they are all located on a hill, near a river or under a palace.

It further noted that the digging technique was also very similar to the tunnel in Kota Raja Mahdi.

The Bukit Nanas Tunnel is believed to be incomplete as heaps of soil were found.

It was never recorded on any map, strengthening it as evidence that it was a secret route.

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