The Ipoh Heritage Square is located in the old part of Ipoh, with iconic Ipoh landmarks such as the Ipoh Railway Station, the Cenotaph and the old Ipoh Town Hall, amongst others, all located within or around the Heritage Park itself.
But the main attraction, as far as I am concerned, has to be the Ipoh Railway Station. It has been so ever since my school-going days in Kuala Kangsar and how the Kuala Kangsar railway station pales in comparison to that of its Ipoh counterpart.
Well, today I finally made it to the Ipoh Railway Station. After all these years. Well, my wife and I, to be exact. And yes, as I stand to one side of the Heritage Square, the Ipoh Railway Station does stand out, proud and majestic, serving as a backdrop to the Ipoh Heritage Square.
The Ipoh Railway Station is one of the many landmarks built during the British rule of the then-Malaya. It was designed by a Mr Arthur Benison Hubback, with construction works commencing in 1914, with construction works completed only in 1917.
It was later refurbished and upgraded in 2007 and soon after, electrified in 2008, to facilitate for electric train services.
During the same era, other landmarks also came into being : the old Kuala Lumpur Railway Station (1910), the Government Offices in Kuala Lumpur (now re-named as Sultan Abdul Samad Building) in 1897, the Ipoh Town Hall (1917), The Big School of The Malay College Kuala Kangsar (1909), the Jamek Mosque in Kuala Lumpur (1909), to name but a few.
I must however qualify myself. I am not an architect by training nor vocation but at my first viewing of the Ipoh Railway Station, it would not be wrong for me to say that I could have been at the old Kuala Lumpur Railway Station, for many are the similarities between the two, and not only in the facade.
Both the Kuala Lumpur and the Ipoh railway stations have a hotel in the building. Now, whether they are still in operation or otherwise, that is another subject altogether but I would be very surprised if they still are.
I did not venture to check whether they are. Something about old hotels rub me the wrong way, so much so that the line from The Eagles’ Hotel California keeps playing in my head whenever I venture near one. You know, the one before the guitar riff finale part of the song : ‘You can check out anytime you like but you can never leave’. But I digress,
The waiting area of the Ipoh railway Station is nicely laid out, complete with air conditioning. A welcomed reprieve from the stifling heat that was building up around the Heritage Square, which is natural bearing in mind that Ipoh is located in the Kinta Valley, and you know what they say about valleys and trapped heat.
Having allowed access to the platforms just to grab a picture or two, it can be seen that the platforms themselves have also been refurbished or upgraded and were well maintained by the management of the railway station.
Having had a good look around the Ipoh Railway Station, my wife and I then proceeded to the Heritage Square proper. As I had mentioned earlier, the heat was stifling and soon we were looking for the nearest shades.
We found a spot under a tree, complete with a worn-out wooden bench, offering a picturesque view of the Ipoh Railway Station as well.
Leaving my wife to enjoy the shade, I ventured to the Cenotaph which was located to the left of the Heritage Square.
There are four faces to the Cenotaph and each face had a different plaque honouring a different group of victims. As is always the case, I took my time reading the different plaques placed on the Cenotaph. It makes for sombre reading lest we forget the sacrifices and the sufferings o and I went away with a renewed sense of the sacrifices as well as the sufferings of the war dead and victims.
From the two World Wars to the Malayan Emergency to the Malaysia-Indonesia Confrontation as well as other notable events in the country’s history, each was captured and described in the commemorative plaques.
As I was heading back to the bench under the shade where my wife was seated, the old Ipoh Town Hall came into clear view. Ringed by flags of the state of Perak, it is an impressive building harking back to the days of the British Empire. The year ‘1914’ was etched at the top of the building, announcing to all and sundry the date it came into being.
As it is common knowledge, Ipoh was declared as a city in 1988 and is the third largest city in Malaysia by population. However, the affairs of the city are not managed from the old Ipoh Town Hall but from the new MBI Building in Greentown, Ipoh.
As part of the City Council’s efforts to drive the local economy, the landmarks left behind by the British from the heyday of the British Empire as well as landmarks held dear by the local communities are now promoted as part of a must-see program for visitors to the city of Ipoh.
From all accounts, heard that its quite a good and informative one and that it starts off from the Ipoh Heritage Square. Surely an item on the To-Do list when we are in Ipoh next.