Book highlights history between Kellie’s Castle and 115-year-old temple

(Far left) The temple is located some 500m from Kellie’s Castle in Batu Gajah. — RONNIE CHIN/The Star

A BOOK paying tribute to William Kellie-Smith of Kellie’s Castle in Batu Gajah, Perak, will be published in four languages.

Sri Maha Mariamman Devotees Association president P. Velmurugan, 38, said the book Forgotten Tales and Existing Facts was expected to be launched by Deputy Tourism, Arts and Culture Minister Datuk Seri Dr Santhara Kumar on April 16 in conjunction with the annual celebration of Chitra Pournami, a Tamil festival observed in the month of Chithirai.

Velmurugan said the 115-year-old Sri Maha Mariamman Temple, sited about 500m from the famed Kellie’s Castle, was only a shrine before Kellie-Smith expanded it in 1907.

“We want everyone to read the actual history of this tourism landmark (castle) and temple.

“Proceeds from the sale of the 24-page book will be used to help poor students and raise building funds for two Hindu temples within the vicinity,” he elaborated.

The book, written by the temple committee, will be published in Tamil, Bahasa Malaysia, English and Mandarin.

Velmurugan, who is from the fourth generation of the temple management committee, said signboards explaining the temple’s brief history in Tamil, Bahasa Malaysia, English and Mandarin would also be placed in front of the building.

He said a statue of Kellie-Smith, a Scottish planter in the 19th century, would be erected near the signboards.

This latest addition would be an exact replica of the statue on the roof of the temple alongside statues of Hindu gods and goddesses, he added.It was said that Kellie-Smith noticed devotees praying at a little shrine at his Kellas Estate when he passed by daily.

When he asked them what they were doing, they said they were praying to Goddess Mariamman (Amma), as she was known to grant wishes. He then prayed for a child and his prayers were answered.

“Overjoyed, and as a show of gratitude to the goddess, Kellie-Smith instructed the workers to stop work at the castle and ordered them to start building a temple instead, a promise he had made to Amma,” said Velmurugan who works at Kinta Kellas Rubber Estate.

“A 500m underground tunnel was built to connect the castle and the temple to make it easier for his family to visit for prayers.”

He said plaster using lime, soil, honey, sugarcane and duck egg whites were combined to build the temple.

The book will be sold at RM30 each. For details, call 014-9441 527.

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