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Home > Perak's District > Larut Matang & Selama District > Taiping

 

Taiping

 

Town of the everlasting Peace

The town of Taiping, was born out of the wars over the tin-fields of Larut district in the State of Perak. Larut was first promoted as mining area by a young adventurer named Long Ja'afar, who reportedly found tin while bathing in a stream. Realising the tremendous potential in the area, he brought the first group of Chinese Miners from Penang to help him work the mines in Klian Pauh.

Not long after, another group of miners migrated to a nearby area called Klian Baru, Literally meaning "New Mines". Folklore has it taht the first deposits were discovered when a runaway elephant which strayed into the area was found with its hooves covered in tin-rich mud. In 1861, a flight broke out between the miners of Klian Pauh and Klian Baru. This was only the start of what was to be a prolonged feud between several groups of miners, from various Chinese secret societies, for control of mining trade.
 


 

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In 1873, Ngah Ibrahim, who had succeeded his father Long Ja'afar, engaged Captain Speedy, a former Superintendent of  Police in Penang, and his Indian soldiers of fortune to quell the "Larut Wars". From being an employee of Ngah Ibrahim, Captain Speedy soon become the Assistant Resident stationed at Larut when the historic Pangkor Treaty of 1874 was signed. The new Governor of the Straits Settlement, Pressured by Chinese Merchants who had invested heavily in the tin mines, negotiated a treaty with Raja Abdullah and several other Malay chiefs. The Treaty Obliged the British-appointed Sultan to accept the "advice" of a colonial officer, and became the starting of British intervention into the Malay States. At the same time, a separate agreement was signed with the headmen of the warring Chinese secret societies to keep the peace.

Captain Speedy, in his new capacity, planned for the establishment of two towns, one called Taiping, for the Klian Pauh miners, and another called Kamunting, for the rival group. It was Speedy who gave the name to Taiping, which he regarded as a happy omen for the future. With this new found peace, miners and shopkeeper flocked to Taiping and by 1877, several important institutions were established, including the gaol (jail), the hospital, the police force, and the survey office. it is no wonder that Taiping soon became the administrative center of Perak But by the 1890's, the Kinta Vally had superceded Larut as the principal tin mining area in the peninsula, and talk had already begun of relocating the administrative centre to Ipoh. However this situation was left unchanged until after World War II when Ipoh replaced Taiping as the capital of Perak.

Despite being replaced as the state's administrative centre, Taiping a town of many firsts, is still one of Perak's foremost historic attractions. Its built environment, consisting of colonial buildings, public gardens, and shophouse ensembles, tells the story of the town's development from 1874 to the present. and for anyone interested in knowing more about Taiping, the best way to acquaint oneself with the town is by taking a heritage tour, either on foot or by car.
 


 

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A good place to start your tour would be at the Post and Telegraph Office, located on Station Road. Built in 1884, this is the first Post Office in the Federated Malay State (FMS), comprising of Perak, Selangor, Pahang and Negeri Sembilan. The Post Office that we see today was built Negeri Sembilan. The Post Office that we see today was initially carried by a relay of runners and ponies, before motorised vehicles were invented.

A short drive from the post office, along Main Road, you will come to the famous Perak Museum. This is the country's first museum, and was started in 1883 in the former government offices. The museum was developed in stages from 1886 to 1903. The first curator was Leonard Wray, who built up the much admired natural history and ethnological collections, including a section on the aboriginal peoples. Assembled on ground s is a stone marking the site of Maharaja Lela's Fort and the statue of Colonel Walker, the man who was known as the "Father of the Malay States Guides."

Across the road from the museum is the Taiping Goal. Established in 1879, the Perak Prison was the main prison for long-sentenced convicts of the FMS. It housed the Government Printing Office, a bakery and a laundry, where the prisoners did some light work. Today, it is the country best example of a 19th century goal complex. Recently, it has been proposed for a prison museum.

From the Taiping Goal, if you  take a drive along Circular Road, you will be able to view the famous Taiping Lake Gardens. In 1884, a large area of Land Chiefly swamp and abandoned mines, was drained, leveled, planted and fenced for a public garden. in its heyday early in the century, it was regarded as perhaps the most beautiful of any gardens in the FMS.

For those with time to Spare, other places of interest worth visiting include: the Keling Mosque on Kota Mosque on Kota Road , the Taiping Convent, the Old Kota Mosque, the Taiping Market in Market Square, and the Malay States Guides Barracks, which is considered the most intact and historically important military complex of its kind in Malaysia.

Taiping, as anybody who has been there will attest, has the heaviest rainfall of any town in Malaysia. While this is unfortunate for devotees of tennis, it makes walking exceedingly pleasant after the dairy showers have fallen. The town's exceptional climate and Tranquil surroundings, together with its remarkable heritage, continues to earn Taiping its reputation as the town of everlasting peace.


 

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