The name Kuala Kangsar is believed to be derived from ‘Kuala Kurang-Sa’, which literally means ‘100 minus one’, usually interpreted as ‘the 99th small tributary to flow into the Perak River’. Sultan Yusuf Sharifuddin Mudzaffar Shah of Perak who ruled from 1877 to 1887 had his palace called Istana Sri Sayong along the bend of the river.
The early palaces
When Sultan Idris Murshidul Azam Shah I became the 28th Sultan of Perak on 5 April 1889, he decided to move his administration from Sayong to Bukit Chandan, where he built a new palace called Istana Idris at the Changkat Negara, Bukit Chandan. In 1897, the palace had been renamed to Istana Negara. The palace is also known in Malaysian history as the venue of the first Conference of Rulers, the Durbar, held in 1897.
In 1931, Sultan Iskandar Shah (1918-1938) decided to replace the Istana Negara with a new palace, named after him, on the same site which is called Istana Iskandariah, which is the current official residence of all the Sultans of Perak who have been installed since its completion in 1933.
Whilst the Istana Iskandariah was under construction, Sultan Iskandar Shah erected Istana Lembah (nearby the Istana Negara site) as a temporary palace. The name of this palace had been changed to Istana Kenangan in the 1960s by Tunku Abdul Rahman, the first Prime Minister of Malaysia.
A selection of points of historical interest
Kuala Kangsar is also the site of the first rubber tree planted in Malaysia by English botanist Henry Nicholas Ridley. He helped Malaya, and eventually Malaysia, to become the world’s largest rubber producer. The tree still stands today.
The first Malaysian scout troop was established in Kuala Kangsar in 1919 at the Malay College. Consequently, its squad number is 001.
The Malay College
Another famous Kuala landmark is the Malay College Kuala Kangsar (MCKK), the first fully-residential school in Malaysia. Established 2nd January, 1905, it was originally known as the Malay Residential School of Kuala Kangsar.