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Destination Singapore: The Malay Heritage of Kampong Glam

by Sharif Ishnin on 30/11/10 at 1:50 pm

Singapore is a melting port of four major races: Chinese, Malay, Indian and Eurasian. However in the last decade, dozens of other races and cultures had settled in the island making it a cosmopolitan city in the heart of South East Asia.

The moment you arrive in Singapore, don’t be surprised with the concrete jungle that would meet and greet you. Hidden in between all the high rise super structures lies Singapore’s early precolonial beginnings. Let’s take a look at Singapore’s Malay heritage sites at Kampong Glam. Kampong means settlement or village. Glam does not mean glamour but actually means a variety of eucalyptus which grew in the area.

The History of Kampong Glam

Before the British arrived in Singapore in 1819, Kampong Glam was the home of the Malay aristocracy. When the treaty was signed between the East India Company, the Sultan of Johor and Temenggong Abdul Rahman(the island’s chieftain), this settlement became more prominent in the eyes of the people. The treaty allowed the British to set up a trading post in Singapore.

Sir Stamford Raffles plan of 1822 divided the settlement into different ethnic groups which were the Europeans, Chinese, Chulia, Arabs and Bugis. Kampong Glam was designated to the Sultan and his household together with the Bugis traders, Arabs, Javanese, Boyanese and other Muslim merchants.

Bask in the ambience of the Bussorah Pedestrian Mall with the picturesque Sultan Mosque in the distance.(Image from Wikipedia).

Modern Day Kampong Glam

Bask in the ambience of the Bussorah Pedestrian Mall with the picturesque Sultan Mosque in the distance. This area used to house successful Arab merchants during it’s heyday. Today these refurbished shophouses not only entails traditional businesses such as textile, carpets, blacksmiths and religious items used by Muslims but also new tenants like design and IT firms, art galleries, crafts and curios shops, food caterers and restaurants.

(Above) Sultan Mosque at sunset.

The Sultan Mosque was built in 1824 next to the Sultan’s palace. The design of the Sultan Mosque resembles very closely to the architectures the mosques of Islamic Spain (711 until 1492).

Image from Wikipedia

The Sultan’s palace now have become the Malay Heritage Centre. Visit the 9 galleries of Malay Heritage Museum(pictured above) and learn the story of the Singapore Malays, their roots, struggles, aspirations and role in the nation-building process. Malay Muslims makes up 15% of Singapore’s population today. Malays are made up of Javanese, Boyanese, Bugis and other ethnic groups from Malaya.

While you are at Kampong Glam don’t forget to visit the conserved shophouses in the area found in Arab Street, Baghdad Street and Bussorah Street. Below is a proposed walk through Kampong Glam for the traveller (Don’t worry this is not in Iraq).

Image from http://www.myonlinetour.com/poi/KampongGlam/index.htm

Note: Don’t try to look or ask for the Sultan while in Singapore for the island is now a republic. That story only belongs to a time long gone but not yet forgotten.

More articles on Singapore by Sharif Ishnin:

Destination Singapore: Midnight Shopping Mayhem at Mustafa Centre

Mystery of The Mausoleum That Refused to be Demolished

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31 Comments

RAJEEV BHARGAVA

Nov 30th, 2010

a very well composed article on anyone wishing to holiday in Singapore. i was really impressed by the historicial footage, videos, maps and presentation. this is definately one place to go and visit. as i read this, my mind was diverted from the falling snow around me. thanks for creating and sharing. :)

Guy Hogan

Nov 30th, 2010

Singapore sounds like a fascinating place to visit.

Jimmy Shilaho

Nov 30th, 2010

You make me want to…

Vincent Eggleston Jr

Nov 30th, 2010

Looks amazing

Davanita

Nov 30th, 2010

What a beautifully put together piece! It makes me want to travel to Singapore…a place that I knew little about before reading this. Thank you.

jamesrcoffey

Nov 30th, 2010

Very nice job on this.

Adrn0919

Nov 30th, 2010

Wow, thank you for taking me on a trip that was quite enjoyable. Maybe one day I too will go visit. Thank you again.

lillyrose

Nov 30th, 2010

Great review! There seems so much to see and do, lots for me and lots for you!

Lady Sunshine

Nov 30th, 2010

Fascinating place. Never been anywhere in South East Asia. How is the weather?

Starpisces

Nov 30th, 2010

You are great, Sultan Sharif. I said you can write anything, and it’s proven here. Very well done, waiting for another destination from you, hehe.
:D

pearl2010

Nov 30th, 2010

Good informations about some historic place in Singapore. It’s really look a good place of vacation.

crisdiwata

Nov 30th, 2010

Make me dream of going there…

Eunice Tan

Nov 30th, 2010

Melayu (Malay) is unique culture that belong to Singapore, Malaysia & Indonesia.

Brewed Coffee

Nov 30th, 2010

If I do get to travel, Singapore would definitely be on my list. Thanks so much for featuring wonderful places to visit there. Your history is very inspiring and I’d like to see in person the wonderful country that it has become. I wish we had leaders like you had, who have the heart for the country.

Anuradha Ramkumar

Nov 30th, 2010

I wish I can travel to Singapore now…

strategy03

Dec 1st, 2010

Great writing. I like this

Snooky

Dec 1st, 2010

Your descriptiveness is exilarating & the pictures are so enticeing makes me want to pack a bag and go

awesome11

Dec 1st, 2010

great share! thanks!

Val Mills

Dec 1st, 2010

Thanks Sharif. I’ve just transferred a few more dollars into my travel account!

Citra Florenca

Dec 1st, 2010

Oh, I’ve never been to Singapore, but after reading this, I really would love to come.

Great article, as always!

sloanie

Dec 1st, 2010

Two feet of snow in the UK, I’m on the next plane.

S A JOHNSON

Dec 1st, 2010

Wonderful pieces. I really enjoyed learning this. ^_^

papaleng

Dec 2nd, 2010

Seem a great place to see. Thanks for the tour, friend.

alvinwriter

Dec 2nd, 2010

Beautiful!

Yovita Siswati

Dec 2nd, 2010

Nice places to visit!

Sweet girl

Dec 3rd, 2010

I have published many similar things in my new blog..

If you like to check it;

http://itsmeyourmentor.blogspot.com

Kaye TM

Dec 3rd, 2010

loved it! =p thanks for the tour, =p

SharifaMcFarlane

Dec 3rd, 2010

I will visit one day. So much to see Sharif.

J M Lennox

Dec 4th, 2010

Wow – the Sultan Mosque looks so impressive. You included everything in this article (map, video, photos) and a wonderful write up.

Very nice article, I have learned new things today!. Learning about different cultures has always been one of my passions. During my life, I traveled to many places but never had the opportunity to go to Asia or India, the two places I would love to be, there so much to see and learn. The people, the food, understanding the life style and believes is extraordinary experience. Thank you for sharing this article!!

Carlos N. Figueroa

Very nice article, I have learned new things today!. Learning about different cultures has always been one of my passions. During my life, I traveled to many places but never had the opportunity to go to Asia or India, the two places I would love to be, there so much to see and learn. The people, the food, understanding the life style and believes is extraordinary experience. Thank you for sharing this article!!
Carlos N. Figueroa

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