Magic Moments in Melaka

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As Malaysia remains a preferred destination for Indians, new places beyond Kuala Lumpur like Penang, Johor and Langkawi are attracting more Indians. India Outbound focuses on the southern region of Melaka which is already a tourism hotspot for many reasons.

Melaka City, about 148 km southeast of Kuala Lumpur is a UNESCO world heritage site mainly due to its strategic positioning as a hub of international trade routes. Melaka was once a well-known international trade hub in the East and many traders, especially from the Arab world, China and India and later the Europeans, anchored in Melaka, traded at the port and from there were born many of the descendants and tribes that exist to this day. The colourful life of the people of Melaka is attributed to their glorious heritage and ethnicities that have long existed among the local community where Indians have a very strong influence.

If you were to take a stroll by the lanes of Melaka town today, you will notice many beautiful buildings taking after Chinese, Portuguese, English and Dutch architecture. There are so many things to see and so much to do in Melaka; you need to really manage your time if you are there for only a couple of days. Just like any other place in Malaysia, Indian food is easily available. People also speak a few Indian languages here and there!

Dutch Square

It is good to start from Bandar Hilir where the Dutch Square is located. Visiting the bright, terracotta-red colonial Dutch buildings built between 1660 and 1700 with louvered windows and chunky doors with wrought iron hinges, is a must. While roaming around the area you will find a central fountain that dominates the area, the fountain was erected in 1904 to commemorate Queen Victoria’s diamond jubilee. One of the oldest surviving parts of Melaka, Dutch Square’s most prominent building is the Stadthuys which was built by the Dutch in 1650 as the office of the Dutch governor and deputy governor.

Portuguese Square

It will take about 15 minutes in a car or a taxi to reach the Portuguese Square from the Dutch Square which is also known as ‘Mini Lisbon’. The settlement, around the square, is the heart of Melaka’s Eurasian community, a result of the numerous marriages that took place between colonial Portuguese and Malays from about 400 years ago. There are occasional performances of Portuguese dances and music in the main square. The bulletin board at the square lists upcoming cultural events. But even on days when there is no performance, the square is a delightful place to go to for a meal and a drink and view the sunset over the Straits of Melaka.

(Top) Melaka Christ Church near Stadthuys; Jonker Walk

(Top) Melaka Christ Church near Stadthuys; Jonker Walk

Porta de Santiago

The sole remaining gateway into the fortress built by the Portuguese when they conquered Melaka in 1511 is now called ‘A Famosa’. Immediately after Melaka fell, they used forced labour to build a temporary fort to counter Malay attacks, while they worked on the main fort, which they nicknamed ‘A Famosa’ or officially, the Fortaleza de Melaka, or the Fortress of Melaka. This citadel provides for some very nice photo ops!

Menara Taming Sari

It will take another 15 minutes to reach Jalan Merdeka area where the first and only gyro tower in Malaysia stands tall at 110 metres in height with its revolving observation deck offering a 360-degree panoramic view of Melaka town and beyond. The tower is named after the Taming Sari keris, a mythical weapon said to possess mystical powers belonging to the legendary Malay warrior, Hang Tuah.

Encore Melaka

Encore Melaka is a next level state-of-the-art theatre with landmark contemporary architecture that has pushed the envelope of aesthetics and engineering design. Find two hours to visit the theatre and enjoy a show to travel through six centuries of history crossing time and space! The Impression Series of Encore Melaka is a 70-minute performance by 200 performers on the life of the locals and reflects a society embracing diversity and inclusiveness. It immerses visual and auditory experiences for the audience with video projection mapping, multi-stage hydraulic sets, special props and costumes, advanced light and sound features as well as a 360-degree rotating audience platform.

Melaka City River Cruise

Melaka City River Cruise

Melaka River Cruise

River Melaka was the main artery of trade for Melaka in its heyday when it was bustling with traders from all around the world. Some buildings from that era still stand majestically by the river, which is also lined by old villages, or kampungs, and modern-day buildings. There is provision for cruising through the river in small and medium colourful boats and exploring the landscape of Melaka on both sides of the river. The flotilla of boats transports sightseers up and down past historic buildings, old warehouses, interesting mangrove stands, churches, and villages. The 45-minute cruise comes with an entertaining and informative commentary. Make sure you reach the jetty by 9:30 pm in the evening to catch the boats on time as they close after 10 pm.

Jonker Walk

Anything you do during the day, do save some energy to explore the nightlife at Jonker Street. Popularly called the Jonker Street, Jonker Walk or the Jonker Hang Jebat, this street is probably the most attractive place in Melaka – a long stretch with lots of shops to eat, shop and hang out! Whether you want to hunt for the best food in Melaka, shop for boutique and souvenirs or visit the award-winning museums and gallery shops, you will not be disappointed. Jonker Street is always crowded with tourists and locals even during late hours. Besides some of the most beautiful antiques, one can also find locally-made products. This place is also a definite haven for the antique collectors and bargain hunters. Authentic artefacts and relics, some dating as far back as 300 years can be found among a host of interesting collectables, each with its own history and mystery. Spend as much time as you want and your pocket permits and then sign off for the day.

Read the full version of the article in India Outbound Magazine February 2020

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