100-year-old Kellie’s Castle a popular tourist attraction

KELLIE’S Castle was to be the flagship of William Kellie Smith, a young Scot who rose to become a plantation and tin mining tycoon in then Malaya prior to World War 1.

Apart from being the dream home of the Smith family, Kellie’s Castle was also designed to be the venue for the meeting of aristocrats to wine and dine, have garden parties and play tennis.

But it was never meant to be.

Uncompleted yet majestic looking, the almost 100-year-old building remained Smith’s dream when he died in 1926 at the age of 56.

Nevertheless, it is the history behind the birth of the castle that lends it an air of mystery that continues to draw tourists from near and far — chalking up 69,120 visitors last year alone.

Located in Batu Gajah, about 25-minute drive from Ipoh, Kellie’s Castle will be included as one of the top tourist sites for Visit Perak Year 2012.

Perak Tourism Committee chairman Datuk Hamidah Osman said the authorities would start clearing the surrounding areas of the castle, including trimming the overgrown trees, to ensure the castle would be visible from far.

She said ample parking space, more public toilets and a mini theatre had also been proposed to make the place more conducive for tourists.

Hamidah said many travel agencies were not keen to make a stop at Kellie’s Castle due to the lack of parking space, adding that there were only three toilet cubicles each for females and males there.

She said the Tourism Ministry had allocated RM5mil to upgrade the place.

“Of the amount, RM3.8mil will be used to construct new buildings and upgrade the infrastructure and the balance will be spent on landscaping and interior designing.

“It will be furnished with classic furniture and modelled after ancient British castles,” she told reporters after meeting the local council officers on the project recently.

Kellie’s Castle caretaker Tajuddin Yaacob told MetroPerak the castle was visited by 69,120 tourists last year, a 13% increase from 2009.

“We expect the number to increase to 80,000 tourists this year,” he said, adding that almost 95% were local tourists.

He said many tourists opted for recreational activities instead of visiting historical sites, and it was the management’s challenge to promote the historical icon.

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