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Heritage Trail Around George Town PDF Print E-mail
Written by Administrator II   
Monday, 27 July 2009 23:52

George Town was founded and built by the British as a free port in the 18th century. This attracts not only traders and merchants but a lot of settlers from the neighbouring region to come to this island to seek employment. The British themselves shipped labours from India to help in the construction. In the later century, there were waves of immigrants who settled down here because of the Industrial Revolution in Britain which demanded raw material which was abundant in the neighbouring states.  All of them brought along their culture and religion from their homeland which were infused into the local scene and also intertwined with each other over the centuries to make the town to what it is today, a multi culture heritage establishment.

Thus, George Town has a lot to offer in terms of sightseeing. Even the food, the language and the architectural design of the buildings were influenced by these different ethnic culture and religion. A tour of this amazing town is a must. As most of these attractions are nearby each other, walking will be the best option. We suggest a full one day tour which will covers most of the interesting places of George Town.

Start at Fort Conwallis – This is the best well landmark located at the upmost tip of the cape. Built to defend the port as a stockades when Captain Francis Light landed here, it was reinforced with bricks later on and some of the original structures built over centuries ago can still be seen and in the compound such as the chapel, some prison cells, ammunition storage area, a harbour light, the original flagstaff and some old bronze cannons, which includes the infamous 17th-century Dutch cannon called the ‘Seri Rambai’. The star shaped fortress is now privately managed with also an information kiosk, café, open-air amphitheatre, history gallery, souvenir centre and tour guides to show visitors around and provide visitors more details of the fortress history.

Penang Town Hall – Across the Fort is an open field call the Padang Esplanade and the majestic Victorian-style building, The Penang Town Hall which was constructed in 1903. Around this building is a Victorian fountain donated by Koh Seang Tat and the Cenotaph, erected in memory to those who died during World War 1.

Convent Light Street – From the fountain, keep to the side walk and at the end of the road is Convent Light Street, sometime known as Convent of the Holy Infant Jesus, a girl school set by a French Sisters’ Mission in 1852. Still running as a girl’s school, visitors can view the house of Captain Francis Light, the oldest building in George Town inside it. When the Convent took over they added a chapel and classrooms.
State Museum – Walk along the side wall to Lebuh Farquhar, cross over to the other side of the road using the overhead pedestrian bridge. You will see the Cathedral of the Assumption (Catholic Church) which was built in 1890. The State Museum is just beside it. Further down the road is the St. George’s Anglican Church completed in 1818.

Love Lane – The road just beside the Cathedral of the Assumption is known as Love Lane. This is an interesting lane as it leads into the quaintly streets and alleys where rows of typical Chinese shop houses are located. When you have reach the first inter section of Love Lane, turn left to Lorong Steward and this will lead you to the Goddess of Mercy Temple and Jalan Masjid Kapitan Keling (formerly Pitt Street). This road is sometime known as the Street of Harmony because in this street one can see three different major religious communities living side by side.

Goddess of Mercy Temple – This temple was founded in 1890 by the Chinese immigrants who came here as labours during under British rule. In the daytime the temple was always filled with smoke from the constant burning of joss stick and praying paper. Chinese opera and puppet show are performed regularly in the courtyard.

Little India – From Goddess of Mercy Temple turn right and cross the road over to Market Street. Here you reach into heartland of Indian trading community. You can hear all the latest “Bollywood” hits songs blasting aloud while browsing through the shops for sarees, garlands, costume jewelleries, spices and etc. There are a number of snacks and restaurants that sell authentic Indian food which are worth trying out.
Sri Mariamman Temple – Turn into Queen Street and find the oldest Hindu temple dating back to 1833. At the top of the wooden entrance gate is an imposing stone tower of intricate stone carving. Turn right and walk to the end of Queen Street and you will reach the Han Jiang Teochew and Ancestral Temple. The building’s magnificent carved wooden and granite beams are worth to stop and admire and so are the beautiful painted doors of their gods at the facade.

Kapitan Keling Mosque – From the Penang Teochew Association Temple, keep left. Diagonally across the traffic light you will see the famous Kapitan Keling Mosque. It was built by the Indian Muslim British soldiers attached to the British army that were stationed here. The original building has been changed the last being 1916.

Khoo and Yap Kongsi Temple – Turning right when exiting the mosque into Jalan Mesjid Kapitan Keling and walk till the end is where you find most of the Chinese community “kongsi” (clan) temple and famous Lebuh Armenian. Three major temples are the Khoo Kongsi, The Tua Pek Kong Temple and Yap Kongsi. Slightly further down the street is the Cheah Kongsi. All these clan temples have recently been restored to their once magnificent state.

Clan Jetties of Penang – Walk all the way down Lebuh Armenian and you will arrive at the Pengkalan Weld (Weld Quay). Here you find where all the wooden houses built on stilts in the seashores by the waterfront. The Chinese immigrants who mostly worked at the port or were fisherman built their houses nearby their place of work during the British rule.

Walk down Pengkalan Weld will see the famous Penang Ferry Terminal on your right which ferries motor vehicles and passengers across the channel to Butterworth and vice versa. You can always take a ride on these ferries as it takes vehicles on the lower deck while some are built for passengers in upper deck. One will be able to capture a magnificent view of the island on the ride back from the mainland. Tickets are purchase only at the Butterworth terminal.

From the Penang Ferry Terminal, keep right and continue walking down the road. It will lead you back to Fort Cornwallis.

From this heritage walk, you would have discover and wonder how diverse Penang as a whole is. Because of its importance as a port for the spice route for the East and West in the nineteen century it has not only brought in ships and goods for trading but different ethnic group of people from the neighbouring region to settle here. What is more amazing that they managed to coexist, staying in close appropriately with each other, thrive together and later intertwine into each other culture.

Last Updated on Saturday, 09 January 2010 23:04

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