By Yasmin Yahya
Kellie’s Castle is one of the main attractions in Malaysia. Located in Batu Gajah, Perak. the old castle is described as an unfinished mansion built by Scottish planter, William Kellie Smith. According to the residents there, the castle was a gift for his wife, Agnes.
The old castle, built around 1905, still remained strong surrounded by the river. Recently around year of 2011, the physical condition of the castle was improved with several constructions done by the state management to ease and to comfort the guests and tourists who visit the castle. A cosy restaurant across the river was also built for the guests to eat and rest.
Surprisingly, the number of visitors increases each day especially during school holidays where parents bring their children to spend their time looking around inside the castle. The General Manager of Kellie’s Castle, Zamari Hj. Muhyi said “about 500 to 700 visitors come to Kellie’s Castle every day during the recent school holidays”.
Similar to Taj Mahal, this castle is also known as the symbol of love towards the loved one. Kellie’s Castle was built as a manifestation of love from the husband (William Kellie Smith) to his wife (Agnes). William Kellie Smith is among the top ten elite families in Perak who worked in the rubber and tin mining industry.
His social position is undeniably very high back then. The couple was blessed with a daughter named Helen. William Kellie Smith desperately wanted a son to be his heir to take over his empire in the future. After many years, Agnes finally gave birth to a son named Anthony. The birth of his son was the starting point of greater success for William Kellie Smith. To celebrate the birth of his son, William Kellie Smith decided to expand on his castle.
If we observe carefully, the design or architecture of the castle is similar to Western and Indian culture with all the bricks and tiles brought mainly from India. Zamari stated, “Based on my knowledge, he even employed a large number of Indian labourers to build his dream castle.”
Not only the materials used to build the castle is amazing but the physical structure of the building itself is so fascinating to the local and foreign visitors.
Consisting of 14 rooms, this four-storey tower include an elevator inside the Kellie’s Castle which connects the ground floor and the very top floor of the castle. Also there are the existence of two tunnels that run under the river nearby, of which one of the tunnels connect to the Hindu temple nearby the castle while the other tunnel connects the castle to the way out near the Kellie’s owned cars (garage).
On the second floor, William Kellie Smith built an indoor tennis court and on the third floor is the rooftop where it is a courtyard for any occasion, event or party. Zamari mentioned that “basically this castle was also used as the hub for entertaining the wealthy colonial planters who were in Malaya back then”.
The castle is very fascinating as it seems to be full of secret doors. The whole place is like a maze. Inside the castle, there is also a wine cellar, secret stairs leading to the garden, a furnished living room for visitors to see what it could be like.
Unfortunately, the castle was not fully completed due to the disease called Spanish flu that spread to the construction workers. The disease was spread from Europe through trading activities that occurred in Malaya right after World War 1, killing many lives. In 1926, William Kellie Smith died due to pneumonia infection during a short business trip to Portugal. His wife who was heartbroken decided to pack up and moved back to Scotland and the castle was sold to British company, Harrisons and Crossfield. The companies began to take over the place and were not interested in the project making of the castle and had directed the construction on the castle to cease. The construction of the castle actually stopped in 1926.
Nowadays, the castle is used as tourists’ attraction to generate revenue for tourism sector in Malaysia. The residents in Perak claimed that the castle is a haunted place. There have been many myths and rumours spreading around about the mysterious unfinished castle.
One of the visitors, Siti Esah stated, “I believe there is a lot of spirits wandering around the castle since all the workers died during the construction of this place.”
Some people even said that the William Kellie Smith’s spirit is still wandering inside the castle, along the corridors, guarding his castle. According to New Straits Times report (13 March 2006), even Kellie’s Castle was recommended as one of the attraction for Tourism Paranormal because of the mystery that occurred in the old castle. People had become more interested to know the history and to uncover the truth behind the story of Kellie’s Castle.***