Perak is one of the states of Malaysia and boasts of being the second largest state by size in Peninsular Malaysia. Perak borders Thai Yala Province and Kedah to the north, Pahang and Kelantan to the east, Penang to its northwest and Straits of Malacca to its west and Selangor to its north. Ipoh is the administrative capital of Perak and has a historical reputation for its top-notch tin-mining activities. This was until there was a drop in the price of tin which severely affected the econonmy of the state. However, Kuala Kangsar is still home to the royal capital and this is the location of the Palace of Sultan of Perak. Perak translates to Darul Ridzuan in Arabic, which means, ‘Abode of Grace’. Officially the official name of the state is the Perak Darul Ridzun. In Malay, the name Perak means silver and it is largely believed that it was given the name due to silvery color associated with tin. Perak was a great target in the 1890s by the British Empire for having the richest tin deposits in the world. The capital city of Perak, Ipoh houses about half a million people according to the recent census in Malaysia.Perak is a jewel for tourist attractions in Malaysia and there are many places of moderate interest in the state. But Pangkor Island is nevertheless the major tourist destination here and it is located about 85 km away from the capital. Ipoh is in itself well reputed and famous for its great foods, limestone caves and mountains and abundant tin mines. Another city in Perak is Teluk Intan, which is famous for its unique steamed and highly delicious Chinese rice rolls and the pagoa- styled leaning tower. Derelict palace is also housed here and this is where the famous Raja Dihilir of Perak used to live.
Several versions do exist detailing the origins of Perak. According to some historians, the name Perak actually came from the Malacca’s Bendahara Tun Perak while others argue that it was derived from the glimmering of fish in water, which had a sliver like sparkling. However, whatever the case, the truth of the matter is that the mentioning of the name Perak is a reflection of the many treasures that are hidden in this place. Perak has a very rich history that everyone would be thrilled to learn and know about it. In actual fact, the Perak State existed since the times of prehistoric age. The Kota Tampan of Lenggong seems to be the only proof showing the existence of Palaeolithic age in Malaya. Between 400 000 BC to 8000BC, there were numerous evolutions in the Perak state. Historians say that Perak is a state that has gone through the Metal age, the Neolithic Age and the Hoabinhian Era as relevant ancient artifacts seem to prove. And then Perak witnessed the Buddha/ Hindu era which is believed to have simultaneously occurred with the rest places of the Malaya. After the period had elapsed, the history of Perak became relatively more advanced as some minor territories were formed like the Beruas and the Dinding District that came to prominence after Manjung existed no more. This ideally reflects also to various other Perak territories like Hulu Perak and Perak Tengah. It was during this time that Islam religion began to deeply plant its roots quite firmly in Perak. Perak’s history historically started when Muzaffar Shah 1 was installed as the state’s sultan in 1528. When tin was discovered in Larut, the prominence of Perak was even highly advanced as this came with the booming of local economy and the discovery of even more mining areas. Besides the tin ore which was the heart of Perak’s economy, natural rubber played a major role as well and is even being planted today after about 22 or 34 sultans have reigned Perak consecutively. The significant economic development enjoyed by Perak came along with the birth of multiracial society, particularly after Chinese was introduced in the mining areas. For a long time, the British were greatly interested in Perak and intervened via the Pangkor Treaty that was signed in 1874. Introduction of the Residential system saw James W.W Birch become the first president. The deviation of the Residential System from its intended cause led to negative results in Perak. The natives were not ready to be colonized and this led to Datuk Maharaja Lela lead an uprising revolt which ended up with president Birch being assassinated in 1875. The occupation of Malaya by the Japanese led to a lot of sufferings in Perak and even it came to an end, most of the states in Malay were left not stable. Malaya was granted independence by the British in 1957 which in short means that Perak now earned its freedom, which sparked economic development.
WHERE TO GO ?
Kellie’s Castle was meant to be a home away from home for Scottish Planter, William Kellie Smith in the 20th century. Being far away from home, Kellie desired his new residence to be reminiscent of his home back in Scotland. The castle is perched on top of a hill in what used to be a rubber estate. William Kellie Smith was an interesting man who was popular with his South Indian workers. Kind at heart, he erected a Hindu shrine for his workers on the castle premises. As a token of appreciation, his workers erected a statue of Kellie complete with a white suit and hat. Construction of this unique castle began in 1915. However, it came to an abrupt halt with Kellie’s sudden death in 1926. The solitary castle, looks almost surreal in these wild plantations of Perak, it projects a strong personality and an aura of mystery. Recently, efforts have been made by the Perak State Government to rescue this magnificent structure from the encroaching foliage. Besides being haunted, the castle is believed to have hidden rooms and secret underground tunnels. The road that leads to Kellie’s Castle follows the contours of the land in a dizzying, maze-like fashion, adding to the mystery and romance of the place.
Pangkor, with its charming mix of fishing settlements and resorts, is a fascinating and convenient holiday destination. It presents the visitor with a rare chance to live near fishermen and observe their lifestyle and also to simply enjoy the fine beaches and resort amenities. The fishermen live in scattered settlements on the eastern side, facing the town of Lumut and Teluk Batik. Visitors get a chance to see some of them on the 40-minute ferry ride from Lumut as the ferry stops at the main settlements of Sungai Pinang Kecil and Sungai Pinang Besar before landing at Pangkor Town. Pangkor’s two popular beach areas of Pasir Bogak and Teluk Nipah offer sun and sea enthusiasts activities like scuba-diving, snorkelling, wind-surfing and fishing. While Pasir Bogak is quite developed, Teluk Nipah still retains its kampung or village atmosphere. Teluk Ketapang or Turtle Bay still receives turtles on their egg-laying pilgrimages. Some of the resorts on the island also have excellent golf courses on their property.
Sungai Klah Hot Spring Park
Sungai Klah Hot Springs is nestled in the serene and lush forest patches, surrounded by hills and clear cold mountain streams and rivers. All 6.5 hectares enjoy the scenic view of well-tended oil palm plantation and durian orchard amidst a haven of tranquility. Its unique concept of a specially designed free flowing Hot Springs Swimming Pool and Therapeutic Park at the foothill of the Titiwangsa Range 200 feet above sea level is indeed creatively engineered to attract visitors who appreciate the wonders of nature. Families visiting the park can try out the family baths and enjoy the privacy of this special treat. Another popular family activity not to miss out on is the hot springs egg-boiling experience. For visitors who are keen to experience the local Malay massage, the park offers one of the finest traditional massage packages to benefit from
Belum Forest Reserve
Towards the northern parts of Lake Temenggor, in northern Peninsula Malaysia (Perak state), lies a vast area of virgin jungle known as the Belum Forest Reserve. The area is one of the largest untouched forest reserves in Peninsula Malaysia. The presence of large mammal species such as elephants, rhinoceroses, tapirs and tigers makes Belum very special. This forest possesses an immense wealth of flora and fauna with much of the area still unexplored and undisturbed by humans. Various tour operators now offer guided tours to certain areas of the reserve and will arrange for the necessary permits, river and road transport and accommodation, which may include camping.
Bukit Larut (Maxwell Hill)
It was founded in 1884 by William Edward Maxwell, the British Assistant Resident of Perak. Perched at 1250m above sea level, it is the wettest place in Malaysia, with an annual rainfall of over 500cm. Temperature here hovers around 15 degrees centigrade in the early morning and late afternoon, dipping to 10 degrees centigrade at night. The Tea Garden House, situated mid-way up the hill, was once the office of a tea plantation. However, when their tea plants did not grow very well here, the British shifted their agricultural endeavour to the Cameron Highlands, where the Boh Tea Plantation is now. All types of Malaysian flowers including the rare giant fishtail palm thrive here. The golden sunflowers grown here are the largest in the country. On a clear day, one can view the peninsular coastline and the Straits of Malacca, sometimes stretching as far as Penang to the north and Pangkor Island to the south. The scenery is captivating during the day, magical and bewitching at night. However, the view is often obscured by cloud build-up in the afternoon, especially from September to December.
Taiping Lake Gardens
One cannot claim to have visited Taiping without taking some time off to soak in the natural beauty of the Taiping Lake Gardens. Built on top of an abandoned tin mine, the gardens were opened in 1880, earning them a place in the history books as the first public garden in then-Malaya. Huge ancient rain trees (“angsana”) line the lake; their branches stretching from one end of the road into the waters across, making the perfect backdrop for couples taking their wedding photos. Spread over 64 hectares, the lake has ten scenic lakes and ponds, a Lotus Pool, charming bridges, tracks for jogging and reflexology, all surrounded by tropical plants, flowers, trees and wildlife. For kids, a roller-skating rink, paddleboat rides, and a playground ensure that the outdoors appeal more than the latest video game. Heritage structures surround the lush greenery, including the Old Residency, formerly the home of the Secretary to the Resident, the Raja’s House and army officers’ residences. The nearby Maxwell Hill (Bukit Larut) also makes an ideal place for jungle trekking and camping.
Kuala Gula Bird Sanctuary
Matang Mangrove Forest is the largest stand of mangrove ecosystems in Peninsular Malaysia. These ecologically abundant mangrove habitats stretch along the west coast tidal mudflats of northern Perak for almost 50km plus another 40km along the shorelines of the sheltered river systems within the reserve’s five estuaries. During the migration season between August and April every year, more than 200,000 migratory birds representing some 50 species are estimated to stop over here. There are also well-equipped and informative visitor centres where you can get detailed educational programmes and displays, which focus on the importance of safeguarding and preserving the mangrove ecosystems and the large numbers of resident and migrant bird species. The Kuala Gula Bird Sanctuary has won the “Best Tourist Attraction (Natural Attraction)” category during the Malaysia Tourism Awards, a prestigious award presented to agencies and organisations which contribute to the development of tourism in Malaysia.
Tempurung Cave (Gua Tempurung)
The cave is probably the largest natural limestone cave in Peninsular Malaysia. Located in the vicinity of Gopeng, 24km south of Ipoh, the cave is approximately 1.5km long. Made up of five huge domes which ceilings resemble coconut shells, each dome has different formations of stalagmites and stalactites. The domes also differ from one another in terms of temperature, water level, content of limestone and marble.
Bukit Jawa, Lenggong
Bukit Jawa is an open site where evidence of Palaeolithic culture was found. This site is situated at latitude 5˚ 07.72’ north and longitude 100˚ 59.55’ east, with a height of 104 meters above sea level. It was discovered by Universiti Sains Malaysia, and research was carried out in 1996. A mapping of the environment around Kota Tampan was carried out, hence the discovery of a possible site at Bukit Jawa. From the findings, sediments at the river bed were more than 72 meters above sea level, and may have been used by a pre-historic community. Bukit Jawa’s site unearthed evidence that layers of sediments at Sungai Perak were used by the Paleleothic community as a base for tool making, circa 100,000 – 200, 000 years ago. They used hammers, and other tools which were evident from the thousands of stone shards found at the site.
Gua Gunung Runtuh, Lenggong
Gua Gunung Runtuh is located at Bukit Kepala Gajah, one of eight limestone caves in Lenggong Valley. Excavations started in 1990 (Zuraina; 1994, 2005) and uncovered evidence of Late Palaeolithic from 13,000 till 10,000, which may be the oldest cave site in Lenggong Valley. The caves are said to be more than 54, 0000 years old (Mokhtar; 2005) and left behind were tools, food and a human remain. The Man of Perak was the only Palaeolithic figure that was found intact in the country. From burial rites, burial offerings, shape, disease of Perak Man (Zuraina, 2005) painted a clearer picture of the community during the end Palaeolithic Pleistocene era.
Gua Ngaum, Lenggong
Gua Ngaum is located at the Bukit Kepala Gajah limestone complex at latitude 5° 07.46’ north and longitude 100° 58.72’ east, 89 meters above sea level. This cave was discovered by researchers from Universiti Sains Malaysia in 1990, was named ‘Ngaum’. During its discovery, it was said that a leopard (harimau kumbang) had roared from the mouth of the cave. Archaeological findings uncovered evidence that the cave had been in use 7,000 to 6,000 years ago through discovery of food deposits, stone tools and broken earthernware.
Gua Kajang, Lenggong
Gua Kajang is located at a limestone complex at Bukit Kepala Gajah. It is situated at latitude 5° 07.57’ utara and longitude 100° 58.87’ east, 76 meters above sea level. A huge part of the floor cave has been damaged due to guano harvesting activity and some parts of the cave walls have been drawn over with graffiti. This was the first cave in the country to be excavated in 1917 by Evans, where urn fragments, stone tools; food as well as human bones were uncovered. Further research carried out by Universiti Sains Malaysia found evidence that Gua Kajang had been used since 11,000 to 5,000 years ago. This cave may have also been used as living quarters and burial ground by the Paleolithics and Neolithics. A burial site was found with a Paleolithic human frame (GK1) dated 10,820 +/- 60 BP, buried in a fetal position with offerings of food and tools. Further one meter southeast, was found a Neolithic grave (GK 2) dated 7,890 +/- 80 BP, buried elongated position with food deposits, stone tools and earthenware. This data provided an insight into the oldest earthenware found in the country and the continuation of the Paleolithic era since early Holosen, before the Neolithics arrived (found on the urn). Besides archaeological evidence, Gua Kajang is also known for its unique cave formations, tunnels as well as stalactites and stalagmites.
Gua Asar, Lenggong
Gua Asar is located at at Kepala Gajah limestone complex. It is situated at latitude 5° 07.53’ north and longitude 100° 58.82’ east, 78 meters above sea level. This cave is situated nearby Kajang cave, and reveals limestone cave formations that have yet not been researched archaeologically. According to local folklore, the name Gua Asar, was given as it was found during the call to prayers (Asr).
Gua Teluk Kelawar, Lenggong
Gua Teluk Kelawar is located at the Bukit Kepala Gajah limestone complex, latitude 5° 07.44’ north and longitude 100° 58.60’ east, 76 meters above sea level. Located one kilometer from Lenggong, Perak, research was first carried out by the Malaysian Archaeological Research Centre until 1990. Later on, Universiti Sains Malaysia (USM) also carried out excavation works and found that the cave was used 11,000 to 6,000 years ago. Many artefacts found at the site include tools and food deposits such as river snails, Brotia Costula and Brotia spinosa. There were also evidence of wild boar and deer, and this denoted that the environment was very much the same as today’s tropical rainforest. Research also uncovered human remains (GTK 1) dated 8,000 years ago. There were also stone tools and food deposits at the site. The burial indicated that the Palaeolithic era in Malaysia continued until early holosen, before they made pottery. Gua Teluk Kelawar also has protective features commonly found during the formation of limestone in Malaysia. As such, early man (10,000 years ago) used the cave as a stop-point. Excavations uncovered stone tools, food deposits as well as animal bones, shells and pieces of pottery. Stone tools found here include pebbles, hammer and others. The stones were similar to those tools used at Kota Tampan and Gua Gunung Runtuh. There are also pottery shards with early minimal designs (6,000 years ago). Animal bones ( monkeys (Macaca sp.), deer (Muntiacus munjak), wild boar (Sus sp.), and reptiles. There were also river snail shells (Brotia costula and Brotia spinosa).
A human remain aged 8,000 years ago, named Perak Woman, was found at Gua Teluk Kelawar in 2004. She was 148 centimetres tall and was believed to have been 40 years old when she was buried.
Gua Puteri, Lenggong
Gua Puteri is located at the Bukit Kepala Gajah limestone complex, latitude 5° 07.56’ north and longitude 100° 58.80’ east, 94 meters above sea level. The cave also has unique formations such as stalactites and stalagmites recorded to be in the shape of the Malaysian map, frog, a married couple, an elephant’s head, valance and other shapes. This also spurred a legend on the curse of Sang Kelembai. In actual fact, this is a natural process that shapes stalactites and stalagmites accordingly. Gua Puteri is a tunnel formed in Bukit Kepala Gajah. Paintings by the Negritos found in the cave are not pre-historic but have been made 100 years ago. There are no archaeological findings at the cave, but it is famed for its legends.Two stalagmite formations found here are said to be of the guardians (prince and princess) of the cave. Locals pointed out that if the stalagmite were to be scaled over, people would fall sick. To this day, the various stone formations found at Gua Puteri include a married couple said to be cursed into stone by Sang Kelembai and a frog.
Kota Tampan, Lenggong
Kota Tampan provided evidence of the first Palaeolithic culture in the country. This site, situated at latitude 5° 03.31’ north and longitude 100° 58.42’ east, 101 meters above sea level. Excavations were first carried out in 1938, followed by another one in 1954. Since then, the world has come to know more of the community that existed at Kota Tampan or ‘Tampanian’ in Malaysia. The chronometric dates and verification of the site and its artefacts were only obtained after Universiti Sains Malaysia (USM) found a new site through research in 1987.
This survey uncovered the functions of Kota Tampan as a destination for tool making during the Palaeolithic era about 74,000 years ago. Kota Tampan is also a reference site for Palaeolithic culture in South- East Asia as it also has classifications and stone tool making technology of the age.
There is also an on-site exhibition at KT 1987, KT 2005 and at Lenggong Archaeological Museum on early settlements in Malaysia. The first survey carried out was by Collings (1938, albeit with many issues) and by Sieveking (1958). Research carried out by Zuraina (1989, 2003) at the Kota Tampan site in 1987 – 1989has been able to resolve issues and problems by previous researchers. This site is also used as a reference point for Palaeolithic culture in the region.
Lenggong Archaeological Museum, Lenggong
Lenggong Archaeological Museum or Kota Tampan Archaeological Museum is located in Kota Tampan, near Lenggong. It is a pre-historical site dating back 74,000 years ago. The city of Lenggong is located 100 kilometers to the north of Ipoh, through Kuala Kangsar (onwards to Grik). It is recognised as one of the oldest site of human activity in West Malaysia. Lenggong Archaeological Museum also displays ‘Perak Man’, the oldest human skeleton found in Peninsular Malaysia in the caves nearby. This skeleton is dated 10,000 to 11,000 years from the Stone age, starting in the Palaeolithic era. The Lenggong Archaeological Museum is situated near the Lipur Lata Kekabu Rainforest, only 2 km from the site.
Sam Poh Tong Temple
Sam Poh Tong is a famous cave temple located in Gunung Rapat, about 5km south of Ipoh. It is said to be the biggest cave temple in the country, and is an impressive work of art with various statues of Buddha interspersed among the stalactites and stalagmites. According to legend, the cave was discovered in 1890 by a monk from China who was passing through Ipoh; he decided to make it his home and a place for meditation. He remained there for 20 years until his death. Till today, nuns and monks who dedicate their lives to Buddha still occupy the Sam Poh Tong. The present temple facade dates back to the 1950s and a stiff climb of 246 steps will lead you to an open cave with an excellent view of Ipoh and its surroundings. Other attractions at the temple include a beautiful Japanese pond full of Japanese carps and tortoises, which are a symbols of longevity.
Pasir Salak Historical Complex
Located about 70km from Ipoh, the Pasir Salak Historical Complex pays tribute to warriors such as Dato’ Sagor and Dato’ Maharaja Lela. There are memorials erected in their honour, in the shape of a sundang (broad sword), a replica of the type of knife used in the killing of Mr. Birch.The complex pays tribute to warriors such as Dato’ Sagor and Dato’ Maharaja Lela, who led the locals against the forces of the British colonial administration. This is the place where the flames of Malay nationalism had first stirred. When the then British Resident of Perak, J.W.W. Birch was assassinated on the bank of Sungai Perak (Perak River), tension between the British colonial administration and the Malays rose. It escalated into open conflict which eventually led to the country’s declaration of independence. Other attractions at the complex include the J.W.W. Birch Monument, the grave of Sipuntum (the alleged assassin), Datuk Maharaja Lela’s fort, the Lela Rentaka cannons used against the British colonial army, and two Rumah Kutai (Perak traditional house) filled with local historical and cultural artefacts.