Raja Melewar Palace, Negeri Sembilan

Raja Melewar Palace

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.

Weighting Stone

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.

Wrinkly Raja

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.

Throne RoomOrnately Carved Doorway

Sundry Exhibits

About 100m from museum is the site (Makam Raja Melewar) where the Raja and his wife are buried.

Makam Raja Melewar

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.

Kampung Pantai–Scenic Village in Negeri Sembilan

Traditional Minangkabau style house in Pantai

Last year I wrote about Kampung Endah, a village in Selangor which was recognised as the Most Beautiful Village in Malaysia for several years running back in the 1990s.

I think I have now found another village which could compete for that title. Kampung Pantai and its surrounding hamlets contain many fine traditional houses, some of which have the Minangkabau ‘buffalo-horn’ style rooflines, like the example above, which are unique to Negeri Sembilan state.

Pantai is about ten kilometres outside of Seremban on Highway 86 headed towards Jelebu. On the way you pass the Rubber Conveyor Belt Factory.

Rubber Conveyor Belt Factory.

I wonder where the conveyor belts used to make conveyor belts are made?

Next the road passes Kampung Bukit Kubot where there is a large modern house with a spectacular roof. Not sure if it is a private residence or if it serves some other purpose.

Buffalo horn roof at Kampung Bukit Kubot. 

Close by, at Kg. Jerlang, is an old wooden mosque of a sort seldom found these days. The protruding mihrab (alcove) marks it out as a mosque otherwise you might think it is just a house.

Wooden mosque at Kg. Jerlang, Pantai, Seremban

Approaching Kg. Pantai itself you will see an extraordinary building, rising multiple layers like some kind of Malay fantasy castle. It is private property so I guess it is an institution of some kind.

Kg. Pantai

Pantai has a few old shops, some food stalls, a mosque, a police station and a clinic. Being on a busy main road, the tranquillity is spoilt somewhat by traffic noise but as soon as you step into any of the back lanes you are enveloped by the relaxing atmosphere of rustic kampung life with roosters foraging for scraps and the smells of burning charcoal and grilled fish.

Here are some of the quaint and charming homes in the village (and apologies if I have taken a photo of your house without permission but it is only out of admiration):

Kampung Pantai, Seremban, Negeri Sembilan

Kampung Pantai, Seremban, Negeri Sembilan

Kampung Pantai, Seremban, Negeri Sembilan

Kampung Pantai, Seremban, Negeri Sembilan

Kampung Pantai, Seremban, Negeri Sembilan

Kampung Pantai, Seremban, Negeri Sembilan

Kampung Pantai, Seremban, Negeri Sembilan

Kampung Pantai, Seremban, Negeri Sembilan

Kampung Pantai, Seremban, Negeri Sembilan

Kampung Pantai, Seremban, Negeri Sembilan

Kampung Pantai, Seremban, Negeri Sembilan

There is a homestay in Kampung Bemban if you want to experience village life for yourself. I did not see the place myself but you could call the numbers on this billboard if you are interested. They also have a page on the internet which you can find by Googling homestay kampung bemban.

Kampung Pantai, Seremban, Negeri Sembilan

If you know of a village in Malaysia which you feel is even more beautiful than Kampung Pantai I would be pleased to hear from you.

Kampung Pantai, Seremban, Negeri Sembilan

Broga

Just past Nottingham University’s modern Malaysia campus at Semenyih  sits the small town of Broga on the Selangor – Negeri Sembilan border. Broga has a predominantly Chinese population who work mostly in agriculture, especially rubber tapping and fruit farming.

Si Na Tok, Broga

The town’s  Si Na Tok temple is located on a low hill overlooking the attractive countryside. The temple is apparently famous among gamblers who go there to seek lucky numbers for their next punt. The area is developing into quite a tourist attraction. The temple itself has a number of statues in its grounds of Chinese zodiac signs, goddesses, bowls of fruit and so on.

Year of the Monkey.

On the crest of a neighbouring hill they have nearly completed construction of a giant Monkey King statue.

Which way is west?

Linking the statue to the temple is an impressive new suspension bridge, for pedestrians only.

Suspension bridge, Broga

From here there is a good view of the fish farms where they produce the main ingredient for many of the popular restaurants nearby.

Fish farms at Broga.

A few kilometers down the road is RabbitFunLand where children get the opportunity to pet and feed rabbits, ponies and goats. Families are then invited to have lunch in their restaurant where the main item on the menu is – you guessed it – rabbit!

broga 010

We passed on the rabbit satay and had chicken claypot and ikan bakar (spicy grilled fish) instead. It was pretty good.

Immediately opposite RabbitFunLand is the path which leads up to Broga Hill.

Bukit Broga

This hill is unusual for this part of the world in that it is covered with grass but no trees which means you can get a good view. It is only about 400m high but, at a leisurely pace, it takes about an hour of sweaty climbing to reach the highest of its 3 levels.

Bukit Broga with the town of Broga in the background.

It is quite a popular walk and the path is well defined. Most people go up at the crack of dawn to enjoy the sunrise, the clearer visibility and lower temperatures. Our family went up in the middle of the day – for the extra challenge (mad dogs and Englishmen)!  I enjoyed the walk and might try to continue on to Gunung Tok Wan next time (since attempted – read about it here.)

Nearly at the top -Bukit Broga.

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