Historical gems uncovered

THE Ipoh Heritage Walk which was organised by the Perak Tourist Association (PTA) managed to attract some 140 participants who were keen to catch up on the past tin mining glory of Ipoh.

This leisure-cum-educational activity on a recent Sunday morning was the first heritage walk organised by PTA to create awareness on the city’s rich history and her rare architectural beauty.

PTA president Mohd Odzman Abdul Kadir said the walk allowed participants to discover Ipoh’s old town by simply walking around the area.

Odzman said participants were from non-governmental organisations, travel agencies, hotels and individuals who were heritage buffs.

The walk started in front of Ipoh Town Hall where the participants were given trail maps as guides.

The participants were divided into groups with a leader each, and they strolled along Jalan Panglima Bukit Gantang Wahab (Club Road), Jalan S P Seenivasagam (Clayton Road), Jalan Sultan Yusuff (Belfield Street), Jalan Dato Maharajalela (Station Road) and Jalan Tun Sambanthan (Jalan Hale).

They walked past old buildings to appreciate their architectural significance and were briefed by group leaders on their history.

One of the buildings on the heritage trail is the Railway Station built in the neoclassical style. It is often referred to as the Taj Mahal of Ipoh.

Here, a participant D.M Ponusamy, 77, told his fellow group members not to miss out on the heritage value.

Apart from Railway Station, participants were also fascinated by the architecture of the High Court building, St. Michael Institution, the Hong Kong and Shanghai Bank building and the Birch Memorial clock tower with its panels portraying famous historical figures.

Two streets of particular interest to participants were Panglima Lane and Hale Street.

Panglima Lane, popularly known in the past as Concubine Lane, was said to be the place where rich local Chinese tycoons kept their mistresses in the olden days.

Hale Street is mostly occupied by offices of lawyers.

Prominent lawyer D.R. Seenivasagam, the first president of the Ipoh Municipality, once had his office here.

Today his office has become a coffee shop.

Another participant Kulwan Singh recalled that Ipoh Old Town was once a flourishing commercial hub with all premises taken up due to cheap rental under the Rent Control Act.

However, the Rent Control Act was repealed in 2000 and owners of the premises started to increase the rental five folds, resulting in many business owners moving out of the Old Town area.

Samuel Chua, who was leading one of the groups, said many participants who had earlier taken the Old Town area for granted, became fascinated by its history and beauty after the two-hour walk.

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