The city of Ipoh is located about 200 km north of Kuala Lumpur. Journey through the North South Expressway (NSE or PLUS Highway) takes a breezy 2 1/2 hours through scenic rolling valleys, palm oil plantations and limestone hills of Peninsula Malaysia. Distances from other major cities: Penang (2 hours), Johor Bharu (6 hours), Singapore (6 1/2 hours) and Kuantan (5 hours).
While there are a lot of colonial-inspired structures around the city, this review concentrates on the buildings that can be found on the historical enclaves of Jalan Sultan Iskandar Shah, Jalan Kelab (Club Road) and Jalan Sultan Idris Shah (close to the Railway Station and Ipoh Padang)
Being one of the oldest towns in the country, it comes as no surprise that Ipoh hosts a lot of delectable historic buildings. It is refreshing to see that most of the buildings are well taken care of, with fresh paints, regular upkeep and informative narrations provided at major historical landmarks of the area.
The most imposing building facing the famous Ipoh Railway Station is the old Ipoh Town Hall. It was designed by a British government architect named A. B. Hubback to reflect a Neo-Renaissance Victorian theme with colossal Greek and Roman columns. The Town Hall was built in 1914 and was completed two years later. Throughout the years, the building had been used as a post and telegraph office, as well as the district police headquarters. Apart from that, the building had hosted a number of important events, which I quote:
Throughout the century, the Town Hall have seen many people from various backgrounds and expertise utilising, and walking up and down, its hallways. The Indian poet and Nobel Laureate Rabindranath Tagore once addressed a meeting of Perak's English and vernacular school teachers here in the late 1930s. The Malay Nationalist Party, the first political party formed in Malaya, held its inaugural congress in the Ipoh Town Hall from November 30 to December 3, 1945, attended by more than 300 people from all over Malaya.
Next to Ipoh Town Hall is the equally commanding Ipoh Court House complex, also designed by A. R Hubback. The complex was opened in 1948 and was once became the official residence of Panglima Kinta, Dato' Mohamad Yusof. At present day, the building complex is being used as the Ipoh High Court (Mahkamah Tinggi) which probably explains its great condition of well-maintained structure and spotless brick wall. The elements of Roman architecture is pervasive throughout the building complex, which is refreshing to look at.
The last but not least, the historic building featured in my little tour is the Royal Ipoh Club (Kelab Ipoh Diraja). The official opening year for the club was 1895 although it was said to be much earlier if it wasn't for the supporting historical documents that perished during the Japanese occupation of early 1940s. I read about an interesting snippet with regards to the history of this exclusive club during the British occupation era, which I duly quote:
The ruling British had selfishly kept the club membership completely for the "Whites" as in all their colonies. "Of course even then there was a stream of consciousness, often unspoken, of the existence and recognition around them of worthy Oriental gentlemen," added Mr. Ramanathan. So, the very first Malaysian to be invited to use the Club was of course the then Sultan of Perak. The war years saw fewer Whites and with the country's attainment of Merdeka, more and more Malaysians were gradually admitted as members.
Yes, the city is filled with architecturally wonderful buildings, most of them are in great maintenance upkeep. Highly recommended for a good photography tour.