Friday, September 14, 2012

Trip To Kellie's Castle, Batu Gajah, Perak

4th September 2012 morning at Ipoh... Early check-out...

early lunch

Arrived at Kellie's Castle, about 30km from Ipoh. The construction of the building begun in the late 19th Century by a Scottish rubber tycoon, William Kellie Smith. The building was designed in a Moorish style, but unfortunately he died before it was completed and the castle fell into ruins.

Kellie's Castle ( also known as Kellie's Folly) surrounding by the river is located near Batu Gajah , Ipoh , Perak , Malaysia (Jalan Gopeng - Batu Bajah). According to differing accounts, the unfinished, ruined mansion, was built by William Kellie Smith either a gift for his wife or a home for his son.

With En. Tajuddin Yaacob. The Director of Aqfast Enterprise, the company who manage the building..

William Kellie Smith was from a village in Scotland known as Kellas. In 1890, at the age of 20, he arrived in the then undeveloped Malaya Here, he met an estate owner called Alma Baker, who had won concessions from the state government to clear 360 hectares of forests in Perak. With the substantial profits made from his business venture with Alma Baker, Smith started planting rubber trees and dabbled in the tin mining industry. In time, he became the owner of Kinta Kellas Estate and the Kinta Kellas Tin Dredging Company.
Now with his fortune made, he returned home to marry his Scottish sweetheart, Agnes, and brought her over to Malaysia in 1903. The following year, the couple was blessed with a daughter whom they named Helen. For many years after that, Agnes tried to conceive, but to no avail. William Smith desperately wanted a son and heir to take over his empire in the Malay Isles .After many years, Agnes finally gave birth to a son, Anthony, in 1915. The birth of his child was the start of even greater success for William Smith. To celebrate Anthony's birth, William Smith decided to expand on his mansion. Smith started planning for a huge castle which he planned to call Kellas House, after his hometown in Scotland.

Construction Beginning

Because of his fascination with the Hindu religion and the Indian culture, Smith's plan was for this house to share similar architecture to those of Madras, with all its bricks and tiles imported from India. He even employed a big group of Indian labourers to build his dream house, to keep the Kellas House authentically Indian. The mansion is accessible from the main road through a bridge running across a stream.

But it was not only the cost of importing material and labourers from abroad that made the house so fascinating to locals and travellers alike. Among the many amazing things about Kellie's Castle are an elevator (it was the first in Malaya) which connects right up to the top floor, and the existence of two tunnels that run under the river nearby. One of these tunnels connects to the Hindu temple some distance away from the main house. On the second floor, Smith planned to build an indoor tennis court — an ambitious project even by today's standards. On the highest floor, there is a rooftop courtyard for parties. This castle was to be the hub for entertaining wealthy colonial planters who had settled in Malaya. His house was so unique that it was even mentioned in the London Financier newspaper on 15 September 1911

Construction difficulties and Smith's death

Unfortunately for Smith, tragedies struck soon after the construction of the Kellas House began. A virulent strain of the Spanish flu spread from Europe to soon after World War I ended in Europe, killing many of the workers in the Kellas Estate. Another seventy workers constructing Smith's dream castle also became victims of the flu. Smith, who had already spent a fortune on his house, lost a lot of money because of this.

In the end, Kellas House, later known as Kellie's Castle or even Kellie's Folly to some, was never completed. William Kellie Smith himself died of pneumonia during a short trip to Portugal in 1926. His heartbroken wife decided to pack up and return home to Scotland selling the estate and Kellie's Castle to a British company called Harrisons and Crosfield.


All these years faded into memory, the castle has been reconditioned to serve as a visitor spot and enjoy the scenery and breeze at the rooftop.Descendants of the Tamil labourers brought over to Malaya to work on the mansion still live nearby even now. Kellie's Castle is now a popular local tourist attraction and was used as a setting in the 1999 film Anna and the King.

The Myths...

There have been many myths or legends or rumors spreading around about the mysterious castle. Some say that the Smith's spirit still wandering inside the castle, especially along the corridors, guarding his great mansion. And that's why much of the structure still intact after so many years.

Some say there are lots of "spirits" wandering around the castle since workers died during the construction and people died during the 2nd world war. It is believed that there are 4 underground tunnels. One is connecting the Kellies Castle to the Hindu temple 500m in the west, one is connecting to the main gate garage in the south and one is connecting to the road in the east.

How about the last one? It's still undiscovered. There are rumors about this secret tunnel had been used as an execution hub of the Japanese army in World War II. And some say it was the secret tunnel being used by Chen Ping (the famous communist leader in Malaya) in between 50s to 60s. Some say the Smith's car is parked in one of the tunnels.




Film production at the building.. TQVM to En. Tajuddin for the photos...

Actors with costume

Paip Besar or Giant Pipe or Huge Pipe at Gopeng situated approximately 20 km south of Ipoh.

The rusty pipes channeled the water all the way from the hill slopes into the tin mines in the low lands at Gopeng.  Although there are no more mining activities, the giant pipes remained intact on the original stilts and became a very significant landmark of recognizing Gopeng. However in July 2010 most of the pipes were removed for scrap metal, leaving just a small section at the side of the main road..


  1. Thanks for sharing such a nice information with us. Please keep on posting so that I can keep myself updated.
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  2. Cool..any rumors about the tree with the bear head?