Thursday, January 5, 2012

Rumah Api Bukit Malawati - Lighthouse

@2011 Amirulshakir | Rumah Api Bukit Malawati - Lighthouse
Bukit Melawati is a historical hill and one of Kuala Selangor's most popular tourist attractions during the day. This small peak was once home to a mighty fortress built by Sultan Ibrahim of Selangor towards the end of the 17th century, an effort to safeguard the state from Dutch forces that had conquered Malacca, a little further down south. The fort faced the sea with a commanding view of the coastline and the Selangor River mouth. Built with solid slabs of stone and held by massive pillars, it was certainly an impressive sight during its days. Despite all its stature, the fort faltered in the face of powerful Dutch cannons and fell to their naval forces after a two week siege.

However, it wasn’t long before the Dutch tangled with Ibrahim’s troops again; in less than a year, the Sultan launched a night raid and succeeded in recapturing Melawati Hill while driving the Dutch back to sea. The fort continued to be at the epicenter of many struggles and battles over the years, especially during the Selangor civil war, fought between factions created by rival sultans and Chinese tin miner gangs. When British forces arrived to impose their presence in Selangor, they hammered the fort into little pieces, with the help of massive gunboat Rinaldo. Not much was left of the fort after the merciless pounding and today, all that remains for visitors to see are a few decrepit foundation stones and walls, along with some of the 68 cannons originally used for the fort’s defence.

In place of concrete and stone, grass and shrubbery now cover the hill to create a pleasant park-like environment along with cooling rain trees that tower over the landscape. At a corner of the hill, sits a royal mausoleum for the first three Sultans of Selangor. The point where most visitors congregate is the view point in front of the Altingsburg light house, slightly below the peak. This light house was built in 1907 and continues to guide ships sailing through the Straits of Malacca today. From here, one can look out to the lush greenery and mangroves below and further out, a vista of open sea. Looking closely, you can see where the sea meets with the Selangor River, with tiny ships and boats sailing through. This particular point of the peak is also a famous tourist feeding ground for the resident silver leaf monkeys.

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