Kuala Kangsar

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Yesterday we explored Kuala Kangsar, which has been the royal capital of the Sultans of Perak for the past 200 years. The royal mosque (Masjid Ubudiah) is on one hill and the palace (Istana Iskandariah) on another. Both have gold, onion-shaped domes and are built in the Moorish style. As non-Muslims we were able to enter the grounds of the mosque but could not go inside and nobody can get near the palace. It  is surrounded by a high fence and extensive grounds. We were able to go into the Istana Hulu (see pic above), which is a former palace (built in 1903 for Sultan Idris) and is now the Galeri Sultan Azlan Shah – a museum that houses the extensive collection of personal belongings (like large numbers of watches and sunglasses) and royal gifts that were presented to Sultan Azlan Shah who died earlier this year. It is a magnificent building with cool marble floors and domed, decorated ceilings. One wonders why it was abandoned as a palace. By far the most interesting building we saw was the Istana (you will have worked out that ‘istana’ is ‘palace’ in Malay) Kenangan (see pic below), which was built in 1931 to house the sultan while the Istana Iskandariah was being constructed. It is built in the traditional Malay style, entirely of wood, without steel or nails, and is decorated with patterned bamboo panels and friezes. Sultan Azlan Shah who lived in the splendid Istana Iskandariah and accumulated the valuable collection displayed in the Galeri is now interred in the mausoleum adjacent to the mosque.

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