One of Negeri Sembilan’s lesser known tourist attractions is the Raja Melewar Palace, located in the village of Kampung Astana Raja, about 10km from the town of Rembau. This building was opened in 2005 and is a replica of the original Istana Raja (royal palace) of Raja Melewar who was the ruler of Rembau district in the late 1700’s and later became the first ruler of Negeri Sembilan state when it broke away from the Sultanate of Johor.
Raja Melewar came from Pagar Ruyong in West Sumatra and was invited to lead Negeri Sembilan by local chiefs. He married Cik Seni, the daughter of a local chieftain, and settled in Seri Menanti where there is a much better known wooden palace.
Before being confirmed as ruler, he had to undergo a trial by sleeping on this stone for a few days covered in jelatong leaves, which cause severe itching and nasty rashes. Seemingly Melewar was the only one of the contenders to pass the trial and this might account for his rather unhealthy looking skin in this portrait.
The Palace is a museum open daily from 10am to 6pm and admission is free. Inside there is a mock-up of a throne room, a stage for a typical marriage ceremony, explanations of local customs and an assortment of artefacts.
About 100m from museum is the site (Makam Raja Melewar) where the Raja and his wife are buried.
There was only one other visitor at the museum and he was surprised that I managed to find the place which is not well signposted. It’s not that hard. Kg. Astana Raja is located on the N12 highway between Kota and Lubok China. In the centre of the village is a roundabout. Take the exit signposted Lubok, or it might have been Linggi – it began with ‘L’ anyway. The museum is just a few hundred metres from the roundabout.