Discovering the Glory of a former Capital Town

By Christina Kim - June 02, 2016


Nestled in a natural surrounding making up the national green treasury, is a town living in the silent shadows of its former past.

Situated in the largest state of the Peninsular Malaysia, Pahang, the town of Kuala Lipis is a delightful picture of historic shophouses with subtlety in its atmospheric neighborhood, juxtaposed with the connecting streets lined with parked cars on the sides.

A glance is bound to send that sense of nostalgia and jiggle one's mind with curiosity over the origins and the story of this quaint little town, and jiggle it should, for the tranquility of the town is just a facade over the town's glorious past.

The British colonization period saw them heading over to and arriving in this part of the country in 1887, and they were definitely pleased with what they saw, for the town was already bustling in its existence even prior to the arrival of the foreign troops, thriving on their prosperous gold mines located on this very ground.

Kuala Lipis was once a gold mining center which spurted their growth in importance and saw their rise to popularity; so much so that the town was named the capital of Pahang in 1898.

The town quickly buzzed with development, as colonial buildings made its way into the picture; with district offices, schools and even a clubhouse was built back then.

The town rode on the wave of fame and prosperity, and even more so when the railway was established to run through this place in 1924.

Kuala Lipis has certainly enjoyed her days of glory, owing to the prestigious gold mines found here and being the capital of the state for almost six decades (1898-1955).

Kuantan took over as the capital of Pahang in 1955 (until this day) which then pushed this town into the background, as it stands in the shadows and reminiscence of its former glory.



The town of Kuala Lipis, at a glance, is really quite similar to the historic streets in both Penang and Melaka (both of world heritage status due to the historical value in Malaysia).

The dated architecture of the buildings, though now dressed in fresh paint, still stood as remnants of the colonial influence which made up the town's historical background.
Of course, the population of 20,000 could not be compared to the aforementioned historical cities, but Kuala Lipis is still charming in its own style and has a few of her own attractions rolled up in her sleeve, keeping visitors at bay with her very own allure.

There are two parts of the town; the old town (original centre) and the new town, where undoubtedly most of the attractions are located in the old town.


It may not be a mega city, but be prepared to spend at least half a day (or more) if you are into photography for this town has much to offer.
At least I know it's definitely applicable for me (I need more than half a day) for I was really rushing for time when I was here, as we only explored the town before heading back to the city.
It was really a short trip, and I have yet to see every single thing to offer, though, thanks to my local guide, I had a glimpse of most of what the town stands for.

Places I visited in Kuala Lipis
These are the ones I managed to visit on my trip:-

1. Kuala Lipis Old Town


Take note of the year at the top of the building; indicating the year the building was established.
Of course, some of the buildings are not the original ones anymore due to reconstruction but the existence of the building is as far as the year on its head says.
That is the unique part about the buildings here (and it kept me captivated as I was checking them one after another!)




All the buildings and even the back alleys are just as fascinating, and picturesque!

2. Post Office in the Old Town 
Year established: 1910


Named one of the best post offices in Malaysia in 2004.

The main entrance originally faced the main road, and it shifted to where it is today following the massive flood in 1971.



Take note of the famous landmark right in front of the post office; a white milestone with the number '0'.

The interesting part is that this milestone led everyone to believe that this town was the location of the the center of Peninsular Malaysia, for many years.

However, that was not the reason for the '0', though it was just as historic behind its existence.
The milestone could be tracked all the way back to the old British colonization days, when the British administration then would use this as a location marker in dispersing the letters and telegrams to the other districts and states in old Malaya (the old name of Malaysia prior to independence)

The Actual Center of Peninsular Malaysia is Temerloh; determined after extensive surveys and calculations by the government.

3. State's Mosque
Year Established: 1888


The land on which the mosque stands is donated by an Arabian Yemen trader; Habib Hassan who also ordered for the construction of this state mosque.

It is known as the State Mosque, in attribute to the former status of Kuala Lipis as the capital of Pahang before Kuantan became the new capital.

An interesting bit about this mosque, is that it is never affected by the floods despite its location beside the river, Sungai Jelai (and floods are quite common due to the overflow from the river).



4. Thean Hou Temple
Year Established: 1898


Built by the local Buddhist community here, led by a Kapitan of the Ong family, the temple was erected in the direction facing the river, Sungai Jelai.
This is due to the faith and the local beliefs that the deities in the temple would protect the local fishermen.

Some of the statues in the temple were from China.

The temple in its form today is a reconstruction following a massive flood in 1926 which destroyed most of the temple's structure.

5. Old Railway Station
Year established:1926


This is one of my favorite (well, I like almost all of the attractions here!), and I will do a separate post on this one.
This is a must-visit.

These are the ones I did not manage to visit on this trip, though they also make up part of the history of the town (maybe next time, I'm sure there will be a next time):- 

- State Secretary's House
Clifford House
- Clifford High School
- Rumah Banjir
- Pahang Club
- Gurdwara Sikh
- District Office (Old and New)

For some, maybe the whole town could be explored in a day or even half a day.
I guess by my standards, I would not be able to adhere to that since on average I tend to spend some time in each location; not just for photography but also taking in that whole historical background and the nostalgic atmosphere.
(I have a thing for history)

Summary Kuala Lipis may be a former capital and a gold mining town in its past, and perhaps many may even think that it is now more of a sleepy hollow kind of town, but I personally think the charms of the town still preside today, owing much to its prestigious past which gave it its identity today.

A walk down memory lane, as Kuala Lipis continues to remind her visitors, that all that fresh coat of paint on the walls are only there to mask the decay of the aging buildings, and definitely not the pride of the town.

A town, once known as the capital of Pahang, and will always be remembered for its glorious past...



*Author's Note: 
This is not a sponsored/promotional post, and solely based on author's personal opinions and do not represent the general public. 
Experiences vary from one individual to another.
You do not have to agree with me.

Art Direction and Photography Styling by Me.
Photos/Videos all belong to me and are copyrighted.
Please kindly ask for permission if you need to use any of my images.

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