Kuala Lumpur - Dataran Merdeka

Every time I visit Dataran Merdeka, images of Malaysian history flash through my mind. For it was here - on 31st August 1957, that the Independence of Malaysia from Colonial rule was declared by Tunku Abdul Rahman, the first Prime Minister of Malaysia. 1957 was a long time ago, in fact even before I was born. But for a country it is just an instant - Malaysia is still a very young nation by all measures. I think we have come a long way in the past 52 years, but there is still much which needs to be done. Every Malaysian should visit Dataran Merdeka once in a while to relive our history, to reflect on what it means to be a nation.

"Dataran" means a public square, and "Merdeka" independence. So this is our Independence Square. It is without a doubt the most significant landmark in Malaysia. Surrounding it are some of the most interesting architectural heritage you'll find any where in the country.

Directly facing the square is the famous Sultan Abdul Samad Building. It once housed the administrative office of the British Colonial Government. Later on it became the Selangor State Secretariat and then the Supreme Court building. Now it houses the office of the Ministry of Heritage, Culture and Arts. Built in a Colonial-Mughal Style, it's unique blend of East and West produced a building which is beautifully detailed, handsome and majestic.

On the other side of the square is another historic building - the Royal Selangor Club. This was once the social club for the Colonial elite, now it is more of a venue for VIP events.

Another interesting building nearby is the Panggung Bandaraya - Old City Hall. As the name denotes, this used to be the old Kuala Lumpur City Hall. It is now used to accommodate various courts under the judicial system. This is another Colonial building in the Mughal style, but is is even more elaborate with lots of domes and pinnacles on the roof line.

This church building to the north of the square is the Cathedral of St Mary. It was designed by the same architect of the Abdul Samad Building - AC Norman, in the English gothic style.

If you are visiting KL for the first time, don't miss the Dataran Merdeka. It is here where Malaysia the nation was born, and a place where you can soak up some of the history of this young country.


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