The old Istanas of Kuala Kangsar

Istana Negara, 1897.

When Sultan Idris Murshidul’adzam Shah I became the 28th Sultan of Perak on 5 April 1889, he decided to move his administration from Sayong to Bukit Chandan. There, he built a new palace called Istana Idris at the Changkat Negara, Bukit Chandan. In 1897, the palace has been renamed to Istana Negara. The palace is also known in Malaysian history as the site where the first Conference of Rulers, the Durbar, was held in 1897.

Istana Hulu, c.1906.

Istana Hulu was also known as the Istana Kota, and this former palace is situated on Bukit Chandan, Kuala Kangsar, not far away from the famed Ubudiah Mosque. The palace was inspired by Victorian architecture and was built in 1903 during the reign of Sultan Idris Murshidul Azam Shah.

In 1916, the palace was occupied by his son and successor, Sultan Abdul Jalil.

In 1954, the palace was taken over by the Education Ministry and was subsequently turned into the Istana Kota National School. In 1970, it was converted into the Raja Perempuan Muzwin School, named after the wife of Sultan Idris Shah. Now, it is the Sultan Azlan Shah Gallery, which was officially opened in 2003.

Source: Arkib Negara Malaysia


7 thoughts on “The old Istanas of Kuala Kangsar

  1. I understand that there was a ‘twin’ of istana hulu situated at the site of the current Taman Seri Chandan. When I was small, I could only see the remnants of the istana. Some people said its called Istana Sultan Abdul Jalil, but why was it demolished?……


    • You are absolutely right about the location of the twin of istana hulu.
      Based on hearsay, during the reign of Sultan Idris 1st, he build each of his children (excluding Raja Abdul Hamid due to his untimely death) a house or rather an Istana around Bukit Chandan (by using his own money) and these houses to be inherited by their next of kins and not the state government (privately owned). Thus, the demolition of istanas including the one you mentioned earlier were predominantly dependant on that particular family’s discretion. That’s what people say….correct us if we are wrong!


      • Patik ask for permission to interrupt;
        Patik just discovered this blogsite last week during my quick research follow up from
        similar old Istana Hulu photo with better resolution here

        That picture has haunted me ever since, until I read this comment saying that Istana Hulu actually has its twin palace (Istana Hilir?) located side by side.

        Patik once lived in Bukit Chandan and can’t help to noticed there is something wrong with this picture. Million of apologies if Patik is wrong but I believe it is impossible to get this shot from where the camera is located, if the palace in the picture is Istana Hulu. The land in front of Istana Hulu today (after padang/circled pathway) is lower than istana base whereas in the picture the land is higher. Coconut tree in the picture suggest that the land is solid.

        However, if the picture shown is its twin castle (Istana Hilir?) , located at today’s Taman Seri Chandan site, we can see just opposite the main road is a higher slope land, ideal location for the cameraman to get this shot.

        This is just Patik’s visual interpretation only and Patik hope it didn’t create any issue. Another thing, Istana Hulu in this picture is missing it’s centre dome which is the peak of the castle. Is there any chance that the dome is installed later?

        Hope the readers could shed some light here. Once again million of apologies if anyone find Patik’s comment uneasy.

  2. These black & white pictures evoke a sense of ‘kesayuan’ in me. I was born & bred in Bukit Chandan and though these istanas had seen their days even before I was born, still I get a sense of ‘deja vu’ when I see their pictures.

    Thank you for posting them here.

  3. Pingback: 28th Sultan of Perak: Sultan Idris Murshidul Azzam Shah ibni Almarhum Raja Bendahara Alang Iskandar (1887-1916) « SembangKuala BLOG

  4. searching for photo of istana hulu (for BCKK program) brought me to sembangkuala. Lamanya tak singgah sini, nak tergelak tengok my earlier comment. The ‘istana Abdul Jalil’ mentioned was actually istana hilir. now I know for sure 🙂

    I just saw the comments made by yeopjob and tried to visualize the position of istana hulu. mungkin betul juga apa yang yeopjob tulis tu. harap dapat tengok a better/clearer photo of the istana.

  5. Maaf saya mohon bertanya. Kenapakah Istana Negara (Istana Idris) dirobohkan? Kenapakah Istana Iskandariah dibina ditapak yang sama? Pada pendapat saya, senibina Istana Idris ini antara yang terbaik dan tercantik di Tanah Melayu. Amatlah rugi ianya dirobohkan. Mohon pencerahan apakah yang terjadi sehingga ianya dirobohkan begitu sahaja.

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