Friday, December 4, 2009

Archaeological finding A Famosa

In late November 2006, a structure part of the fort, believed to be the Middelsburgh Bastion was accidentally uncovered during the construction of 110 meter revolving tower in Malacca Town.[1] The construction of the tower has been postponed indefinitely following the discovery. [2] Malacca Museums Corporation suspects the structure was built by the Dutch during the Dutch occupation of Malacca from 1641 to 1824.[3]

Earlier in June 2003, a watchtower named Santiago Bastion was discovered during the construction of Dataran Pahlawan.[4]

History A Famosa

In 1511 a Portuguese fleet arrived under the command of Alfonso de Albuquerque. His forces attacked and successfully defeated the armies of the Malacca Sultanate. Moving quickly to consolidate his gains, Albuquerque had the fortress built around a natural hill near the sea. Albuquerque believed that Melaka would become an important port linking Portugal to the spice trade from China. At this time other Portuguese were establishing outposts in such places as Macau, China and Goa, India in order to create a string of friendly ports for ships heading to China and returning home to Portugal.

The fortress once consisted of long ramparts and four major towers. One was a four-story keep, while the others held an ammunition storage room, the residence of the captain, and an officers' quarters. Most of the village clustered in town houses inside the fortress walls. As Melaka's population expanded it outgrew the original fort and extensions were added around 1586. The fort changed hands in 1641 when the Dutch successfully drove the Portuguese out of Melaka. The Dutch renovated the gate in 1670, which explains the logo "ANNO 1670" inscribed on the gate's arch. Above the arch is a bas-relief logo of the Dutch East India Company.

The fortress changed hands again in the early 19th century when the Dutch handed it over to the British to prevent it from falling into the hands of Napoleon's expansionist France. The English were wary of maintaining the fortification and ordered its destruction in 1806. The fort was almost totally demolished but for the timely intervention of Sir Stamford Raffles, the founder of Singapore, who happened to visit Melaka in 1810. Because of his passion for history, this small gate was spared from destruction.

A Famosa

A Famosa (Malay language: Kota A Famosa), or "The Famous" in Portuguese, is a fortress gate located in Malacca, Malaysia. It is among the oldest surviving European architectural remains in Asia. This tiny gate (called the Porta de Santiago) is all that is left of a once-mighty fortress.

The name is often mispronounced as /eɪ/ Famosa, even among Malaysians (as though the Portuguese definite article "a" were the letter "A" in the English alphabet). A more accurate pronunciation would be /ɑ/ Famosa (approximating 'ah)

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Pulau Besar (Malacca)

Pulau Besar is an island off the coast of Malacca, Malaysia This island has many legends associated with it. One must not be confused with the Pulau Besar of Johor. While they may share the same name, they are entirely different islands.

Pulau Besar looks like a pregnant lady lying on her back. The locals around Pulau Besar revere the island and attribute it to many legends. It has also become a place of pilgrimage for a large number of Indian Muslims in Malaysia. Many pilgrims come to Pulau Besar to visit a mausoleum believed to be of a Wali, Sultan Ariffin Syeikh Ismail Waliallah. There are also numerous other graves visited by pilgrims such as that of Datok Janggut, Datuk Puteh and Nenek Kebayan. The group of 7 graves called Makam Tujuh Beradik were torn down by the state religious department during the 90's when the state government initiated construction work to build a hotel and golf course on the island. The resort operated for a few years before it eventually closed.

At the highest point on the island exist a large boulder that is split down the middle. It is named "Batu Belah" and is a favourite destination for local pilgrims. There also exists a cave which is said to be the place of meditation for another Wali named Yusof. Near this cave, it is claimed one can see the footprint of the Wali on a boulder. In 1997 the Malaysian government labeled such practices as deviant and tore down many buildings that were erected around the mausoleum. This caused an uproar in the Indian Muslim communities which frequented Pulau Besar. By 2006, a new hall had been built using private funds from many Indian Muslim businessman.

The island is considered a holy place by local believers. Visitors are advised to abstain from consuming pork on the eve of the day of visit and throughout their stay there. They are also to be in their best behavior while on the island. Visitors can board motorboats at Pernu, Umbai for the short trip to the island. Accommodation is available at a smaller hotel namely Chandek Kura Hotel. Many visitors however pitch tents along the coast. Food is easily available from the few stalls there. Free food and drinks are also available from the Wakaf Makam Tujuh Beradik.