Kampong Glam Heritage Trail

National Heritage Board, Singapore

Kampong Glam Heritage Trail One
This trail takes you through the meandering, bustling streets of Kampong Glam's conserved area, covering Arab Street, Beach Road, Jalan Sultan and Victoria Street. Start at the Malay Heritage Centre, formerly the residence of Malay sultans and their families, and follow the trail to find out what life used to be like in Kampong Glam, from its culture and communities to its trades and crafts. 
Malay Heritage Centre (Former Istana Kampong Gelam)
Once the residence of Malay royalty and also referred to as "Istana Kampong Gelam", the building was conserved and developed into the Malay Heritage Centre in 2005. The building was commissioned by Tunku Ali, the son of Sultan Hussein, when he returned to Singapore in 1840. Preceded by at least two istana buildings, it is distinguished by its unique architecture that combines traditional Malay motifs with the Palladian style. 

In 1897, the court decided in a dispute between members of the royal family that the Kampong Glam property belonged to the British Crown. An ordinance was then enacted by the British government to provide an income for Sultan Hussein's descendants.

The building continued to serve as residence for the family until 1999, when redevelopment plans for Kampong Glam were announced.

After its reopening in 2005, further renovations were carried out between 2011 and 2012. The redeveloped centre was launched in September 2012.

Gedung Kuning
Gedung Kuning means “Yellow Mansion” in Malay. Made of mainly wood and brick, the façade of the building suggests European influence but its form and internal layout within the building reflects the style of a traditional Malay house. The house served as a residence for much of its history. Tunku Mahmud, a grandson of Sultan Hussein, was known to have stayed in the house. Haji Yusoff, a merchant of Javanese descent, first purchased the mansion in 1912. He sold it years later, but would subsequently buy it again. 

The mansion remained in the possession of Haji Yusoff and later his descendants till 1999, when the government acquired it for redevelopment. The renovated and restored building was opened to the public in 2003, housing a restaurant.

Former Pondok Java and Sultan Gate
This location is where the former Pondok Java was located. Pondoks were communal lodging houses that were once a common feature of Kampong Glam and its vicinity. They were set up to house newly arrived migrants. At Sultan Gate, there was Pondok Java, a lodging house for Javanese arrivals. Many were bachelors, thus the house was also known by its other name, Rumah Bujangan (House of Bachelors). Pondok Java was also a centre for Javanese culture, where people came from all parts of Singapore to watch the regular traditional performances held there. Pondok Java was demolished in 2003 due to structural safety issues. As its name suggests, Sultan Gate was a road that led to an entrance of the former istana. It also has names with similar meaning in other languages, such as 'ong hu khau' (palace entrance) in Hokkien, and 'raja kottai' (King’s palace) in Tamil. Many blacksmiths and foundries were located at Sultan Gate; by the 1900s, the Chinese, in particular the Hakkas, operated most of these foundries. Household items and tools were some of the items made. There were at least seven foundries during its peak in the 1950s but by the late 1990s, only two were left. The last foundry closed down in the mid-2000s after a fire.
Former Chong Cheng School and Chong Pun Girls' School
This locally-designed Art Deco building used to house the former Chong Cheng School 崇正学校 and Chong Pun Girls’ School 崇本女校. Chong Cheng School (formerly Yang Zheng School 养正学堂) was founded in 1903 as a boys’ school. It operated in various locations along Beach Road before moving to this school compound in 1938. Chong Pun Girls’ School (formerly Yu De Girls’ School 育德女子学校) first started at Thian Hock Keng Temple along Telok Ayer Street before occupying the premises at Aliwal Street. Both schools were housed in separate wings and shared common facilities such as the school hall. 

The schools were funded by donations from their founders, trustees and philanthropists including the Haw Par brothers and Tan Kah Kee (1874–1961) and organisations such as the former Sun Tian Gong temple at Malabar Street. The schools were known for its calibre of teachers and students, including famous alumni such as Chinese magnate, Lee Kong Chian (1893-1967) and former President of Singapore, Ong Teng Cheong (1936-2002). The building was conserved in 2011 by the Urban Redevelopment Authority.

North Bridge Road
One of the earliest roads built in Singapore, North Bridge Road is so called because it ran north of Presentment Bridge (present-day Elgin Bridge). This road has always been one of the liveliest commercial streets in the Kampong Glam area, lined with shops set up by diverse communities and various trades that have came and went, including tailors, printers and genstone craftsmen. 
Today, North Bridge Road remains the place to go for pilgrimage goods, 'attar' (non-alcohol perfumes crafted from essential oils), handcrafted jewellery and other paraphernalia. You can also savour food such as murtabak, biryani or nasi padang.
Arab Street
One of the few streets in Kampong Glam that has retained its original name, the area was designated for the Arab community in the 1822 town plan of Singapore. However, traders and entrepreneurs from Indonesia, India, China and the Middle East were also active in this busy commercial area. They started businesses ranging from eating houses, rattan shops and goldsmiths, to textile shops, money changers, bookshops and printing presses. 
Arab Street
The Arab community left their imprint on Kampong Glam in many ways, such as the two madrasahs in this area. In the early days, Arab traders used to own whole stretches of properties in Kampong Glam. Today, you can still find a number of long-time businesses in Kampong Glam belonging to Arab businessmen, such as the Basharahil Brothers and Toko Aljunied. Due to the large Javanese population in the area, Arab Street was also known as Kampong Java by the Malays, or 'Jawa koi' (Java Street) by the Chinese. It even had a Tamil nickname, 'pookadei sadakku' (flower street), because of the flower stalls set up by the Javanese women along the five-foot way. The Javanese also operated eating houses, food stalls, and sold goods such as fruit and Javanese leaf cigarettes. However, its Javanese presence slowly diminished with resettlement of the original residents due to the redevelopment of Kampong Glam.
Madrasah Alsagoff Al-Arabiah
Established in 1912, Madrasah Alsagoff Al-Arabiah is the oldest madrasah in Singapore. Its beginnings can be traced to the late 19th century when Syed Mohamed bin Ahmed Alsagoff started a small school in the family house of what was then Java Road (present-day Beach Road Garden estate). 

Although the school taught the tenets of Islam to Muslim boys when it first started, it began accepting girls in the 1940s, and was eventually converted into a full girls' school for the next two decades. In 1992, an extension building was added to the madrasah to provide better facilities for the students. Today, its students are also taught Mathematics, Science and Malay language in addition to Islamic studies, Arabic and English.

Bali Lane
The former Kampong Bali comprised the current Bali Lane and the neighbouring Shaikh Madersah Lane (now defunct) which ran parallel to it, around present-day Ophir Road. The kampong’s development from the 1850s was partly due to the pilgrimage trade which had by then expanded from Kampong Jawa around Arab Street and Haji Lane. For a period, the back of Bali Lane had stalls for horses, which were later converted to motorcar stalls in the early 20th century. By the 1950s, an increasing number of Chinese migrants moved into Kampong Bali and set up lodgings for coolies. 

According to former residents, the majority of the Chinese population staying at Bali lane were Hokkiens from Jinjiang county. In each coolie quarter, different gods were worshipped according to village clan, and the celebration of the gods’ birthdays helped residents to maintain close ties with each other. Newcomers were allowed to stay for free and repay the rent after they found work. Such coolie quarters gradually phased out over time with the decrease of entrepôt trade.

Bussorah Street (Former Kampong Kaji)
Bussorah Street and its immediate vicinity are often regarded as the heart of Kampong Glam by former residents. It was originally called “Sultan Road” and renamed “Bussorah Street” in 1910 after a place in present-day Iraq. This stretch of Bussorah Street near Masjid Sultan was once known as Kampong Kaji (Pilgrim Village), 'kaji' being the Javanese pronunciation of 'haji' (pilgrim) as there were many Javanese living here. Until the mid-1970s, Singapore was the pilgrim hub in Southeast Asia, and pilgrims from nearby countries –  in particular, Indonesia due to Dutch restrictions on the pilgrimage – would come to Singapore and stay at Bussorah Street while waiting for the 'kapal haj' (pilgrim ship). 

Here, a whole array of services was available. Bussorah Street was reputed for its 'sheikh hajis' (pious men known in the community for their knowledge of the haj) who would prepare the pilgrims for their journey. When the time came for them to depart, prayers were usually held at Masjid Sultan and there would be a huge send-off.

Although air travel has since replaced the ship as the main mode of transportation to Jeddah, former residents still continue to call Bussorah Street “Kampong Kaji” today.

Bussorah Street (Former Kampong Tembaga)
"Tembaga" means "copper" in Malay, and refers to the Javanese coppersmiths who were once active in this area. Many people visit Kampong Tembaga to buy or repair their copper implements and utensils. The trade gradually declined in the post-war years due to factors such as the availability of cheaper utensils.
Masjid Sultan
The Masjid Sultan is an important focal point for Muslims in Singapore and the most prominent landmark in Kampong Glam. Every year, during the fasting month of Ramadan, Muslims gather in the vicinity of the mosque to await the prayer call to break their fast. The history of the mosque traces back to 1823, when the Sultan wanted a mosque built near his residence. The current building, however, was constructed in the early 1920s. Masjid Sultan was officially declared a national monument in 1975, and a similar-styled annex was built in 1993 to house various functions. 

The mosque was designed in the Indo-Saracenic style, with domes, minarets and balustrades. The building’s most striking features are its two large golden-yellow domes. Donated glass bottles from the community were incorporated into the base of the dome. In front of the mosque lies the grave of Tunku Alam, the grandson of Sultan Hussein.

Credits: Story

Education & Community Outreach Division
National Heritage Board

For more heritage trails, please visit - http://www.nhb.gov.sg/NHBPortal/Places/Trails

Credits: All media
The story featured may in some cases have been created by an independent third party and may not always represent the views of the institutions, listed below, who have supplied the content.
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