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Kuching’s wonderful architecture


Called the Round Tower, this building was completed in 1886 and served as the town’s dispensary.

Called the Round Tower, this building was completed in 1886 and served as the town’s dispensary.

KUCHING: The heritage walk at the heart of Kuching city centre is a must for history, arts and culture enthusiasts.

With over 20 historical landmarks to explore, starting with the Tua Pek Kong Temple, opposite the Kuching Waterfront all the way to the Islamic Museum at Jalan P Ramlee some 2km away, one would get to immerse themselves in the life of early settlers and cultures in the city.

Along the route, the heritage trail would guide visitors to learn about early Chinese settlements and the Brooke era dating back over 150 years.

The Pavillion, built in 1909 as a hospital for the exclusive use of the Rajah’s officers and other Europeans, is the first multi-storey building in Kuching. — Photos: ZULAZHAR SHEBLEE
The Pavillion, built in 1909 as a hospital for the exclusive use of the Rajah’s officers and other europeans, is the first multi-storey building in Kuching. — Photos: ZULAZHAR SHEBLEE

“The Heritage Walk trail has strong potential to be developed into a tourism product for Kuching city, especially to attract Chinese tourists,” Assistant Tourism Minister Datuk Lee Kim Shin said after experiencing the heritage walk recently organised by the Sarawak Tourism Board.

He cited the Tua Pek Kong Temple, built in 1770, as the oldest in Sarawak. The temple sits at the foothill of Bukit Mata Kuching and originally overlooked the mouth of a small Sarawak River that has since been land filled, thus ensuring good fengshui features.

The Central Post Office was completed in 1931.
The Central Post Office was completed in 1931

Among the main attractions at the trail included the Fort Margherita that was built in 1879 and has been turned into Brooke Gallery.

“Tourists can learn about early Chinese settlements in Kuching at the Chinese Historical Museum opposite the Tua Pek Kong.

“In the Main Bazaar area, we also have the Shang Ti Miao temple as well as the Kueh Seng Ong.

Gateway to Carpenter Street. - ZULAZHAR SHEBLEE / THE STAR

(Top) Gateway to Carpenter Street.

“The Kuching heritage walk is interesting and educational, showcasing the rich history of the city,” he added.

Promoting the heritage walk is timely as the state looked to attract tourists from China, Hong Kong, Taiwan and Singapore as its main target this year, Lee continued.

Assistant Tourism Minister Datuk Lee Kim Shin (left) interacts with a business owner at Carpenter Street. The family has owned the premises for generations dating back to over 100 years.

Assistant Tourism Minister Datuk Lee Kim Shin (left) interacts with a business owner at Carpenter Street. The family has owned the premises for generations dating back to over 100 years.

Across the river, tourists could also view the Astana, built by the first Rajah James Brooke as his residence.

The trail would also lead tourists to the Old Courthouse, Central Post Office, the Sarawak Museum, the Square Tower as well as the Bishop’s House that was built in 1848.

The Square Tower was completed in 1879 as a sentry fort to complement Fort Margherita across the Sarawak River. It first served as a maximum-security detention centre.
The Square Tower was completed in 1879 as a sentry fort to complement Fort Margherita across the Sarawak River. It first served as a maximum-security detention centre.

Remembrance of the Japanese occupation during the Second World War can also be seen in the Japanese Building, an administrative complex built entirely by the prisoners of war from Sabah and Sarawak who had to march daily from the Batu Lintang detention camp about 3km away.

Throughout the heritage walk trail, visitors would get to throng the old Kuching town along Carpenter Street, Gambier Street to India Street.

The present old Courthouse structure was built in 1874 to house various Brooke Administrative offices under one roof. This building is now the Tourism Complex.
The present old Courthouse structure was built in 1874 to house various Brooke administrative The Central Post Office was completed in 1931. offices under one roof. This building is now the Tourism Complex.

Some of the business premises have been around for over 100 years, handed down from generation to generation.

“Right now, the ministry will look to improve facilities and amenities of these attractions as we promote the heritage trail,” Lee said.

The ministry will also train more Mandarin-speaking tour guides to ensure they are knowledgeable about the products.

   

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