* Translation *

14 December 2011

Bukit Melawati

Bukit Melawati, Kuala Selangor, Selangor, MY
[click for larger image]

Bukit Melawati
It's easy to understand why for many years and through many wars, Bukit Melawati have always been the core of tactical skirmishes. The hill provided a vantagepoint for monitoring ships entering and leaving this part of the Straits. Two forts were built on the hill, the largest of which was Fort Altingberg, originally called Fort Melawati. The locals built this fort during the reign of Sultan Ibrahim of Selangor in the late 18th Century to protect them from foreigners who had already conquered Melaka just down the coastline. 

Even with such precautions, they were no match for the cannons and the gunfire from the formidable Dutch navy who later captured the fort and renamed it. With such strategic hold, the Dutch continued to bore a hole into the local Sultans' defence in an attempt to snatch the tin trade away. The fortress was later destroyed during the Selangor Civil War (1867- 73) skirmish between warring factions fighting for tin rich areas. Sultans of various areas teamed up with different Chinese gangs and the war resulted in a bloody end only to be 'saved' by the British Resident, who was requested by other Malay Rulers to mediate talks to put an end to the futile feud.

All that is left of the forts on Bukit Melawati is a couple of cannons and foundation stones. And also a rock that is believed to have been used for executions. But the view from the peak of the hill is lovely. The entire delta can be seen. Much of the mangrove swamps still exist, lining the coastal plains like blue tint mascara; and right at the foot of the hill lies 497 acres of the Kuala Selangor Nature Park, which is a great place for birdwatching and a nice place for a stroll in the evening.

Bukit Melawati also has a lighthouse and several old colonial houses built during the British days. Just round the corner from the viewpoint, and to the back of the lighthouse is a carpark area. Several families of Silver-Leafed Monkeys (lotong) and Long-Tailed Macaques (kera) hang around here for peanut handouts from visitors. The Silver-leafed babies have golden fur as compared with the adults of dull-ashen grey. These Monkeys are a delight - they are gentle and seem to always have a thank you for every morsel of food given. 

The long-tailed macaques, on the other hand, are generally a little more mischievous and if you turn your back for a second - you'd never know what they would do. Always be careful when feeding the monkeys. Although they have had many interactions with humans, we must remember that they are wild and wild animals tend to be erratic sometimes.

Cars are only allowed up the hill during weekdays. There is a one way road system that winds all the way up and then down some. For weekends you will have to park your vehicle at the bottom of the hill and walk up. The tram runs up the hill during weekends only and costs RM1.00 for adults; children: free.

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