Monday, July 8, 2013

Dataran merdeka

Located in the heart of Kuala Lumpur’s old-world colonial district, is Dataran Merdeka or Independence Square, a site of much historical significance, for it was here that the end of colonial rule was signaled with the lowering of the Union Jack and the raising of the Malaysian flag at midnight on August 31st 1957.  This lush green square since then has been used as the locale for the annual celebration of Malaysian independence on August 31st, an event marked with much pomp and ceremony in the form of a grand Independence Day parade.
The main focal point of the square is its towering 95m tall flag pole, which is believed to be the tallest flag pole in the world. Also onsite at the southern section of the square is a marble plaque which commemorates the end of colonial rule in Malaysia, for it is at that very spot that the Union Jack was lowered as it signaled the end of the British-era in Malaysia.
Dataran Merdeka is surrounded by various magnificent edifices on all sides. To the east of the square is the majestic Sultan Abdul Samad Building, which was designed by Arthur Charles Alfred Norman, a British architect employed with the colonial government in 1897. The building which once hosted the superior courts of the country now houses the office of the Ministry of Information, Communication and Culture of Malaysia.
The western end of the square is dominated by the Royal Selangor Club Complex. This Tudor style building dates back to 1884, when it was built as a center for recreation for high-ranking officers of the colonial government. In fact the Dataran Merdeka was formerly known as the Selangor Club Padang or simply Padang and served as the cricketing green of the Selangor Club. Today, the club has who’s who of Malaysia on its membership rolls and is renowned for its two 18-hole championship courses, which serve as the site for many a golfing tournament.
To the north of the square is a stunning Gothic structure, the St. Mary’s Anglican Church. The church is the current Diocese of West Malaysia and also serves the seat of the Bishop of West Malaysia. St Mary’s which dates back to 1894, was also designed by A.C Norman. On the southern end of the square is a grand building which once housed the extensive collections of the National History Museum, but these have now been transferred to the National Museum.
Apart from its elegant and surroundings, the Dataran Merdeka also has an additional attraction in the form of the subterranean Plaza Putra, a food, leisure and entertainment complex that lies beneath the square.
So if are keen to soak up some Malaysian history on your trip to Kuala Lumpur, then the Dataran Merdeka should feature as a must-do on your sight-seeing itinerary.

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