- Read 733 times
Melaka Historical Tour by Bicycle
Melaka is a state that is familiar to many of us. A’Famosa, Jonker Walk, Portuguese Settlement, Bukit Cina and Satay Celup are just a few spots that every Malaysian could easily name among the long list of attractions in Melaka. As a result of various Western colonial powers, Melaka today, is a potpourri of culture and heritage that converged upon the midway between the East and the West.
Melaka is where historical occurrences had truly left an indelible mark on the locales’ lifestyle, with its surviving memories relived in its fascinating architectural influences.
The trip to the UNESCO World Heritage City of Melaka began with an exotic start as we checked in to a restored 190 year-old Peranakan house called Hotel Puri. Every step in the house gave an impression as if we were walking around a museum.
Peranakan, commonly known as Baba-Nyonya in Malaysia, is a reference to the descendants of Chinese immigrant who left their homeland to Malaya particularly to Melaka. This unique ethnic group integrated into the local community, adopted the local Malay custom, and practised inter-marriages among the natives.
The first generation of Peranakan was known to begin in the 15th century when the daughter of the Chinese Ming Emperor, together with about 500 of her entourage, settled permanently at Bukit China. It was a diplomatic gesture taken by the Ming Emperor to strengthen ties with the Melakan ruler when Melaka was the strategic trading port between the East and West.
Taman Bunga Merdeka
As it was, we set forth our bicycle tour towards 1) Taman Bunga Merdeka (Independence Garden) where the St. Francis Xavier Commemorative Stone stood. The stone is known as “The City Cross”.
It was originally located in the sea but had since been moved inland when reclamation work was done by the British circa 1937-1939. The stone is believed to be the location where St. Francis Xavier first set foot in Melaka during his visit in 1512. It is also believed that the stone will not sink because St. Francis Xavier had cast a spell upon it.
A short 300 meters later, we arrived at the famous Padang Pahlawan. We parked our bikes under the 2) Pokok Melaka (Phyllanthus Emblica), a tree from which the name of the state was derived, with every part of it used for medical purposes.
Proclamation of Independence Memorial
Right before us were the 3) Proclamation of Independence Memorial. This Museum of Independence was once a club house built by the British for the upper class British that consisted mainly of rubber planters when the first plot of land was planted with rubber trees in 1898. It now houses records and displays leading up to Malaysia’s Independence Day.
The Malay and Islamic World Museum
Just a stone’s throw away is the House, 4) The Malay and Islamic World Museum (DMDI Museum). Built in 1948, the Bastion House was once the headquarters of the Dunlop Malayan Estates company. The museum now showcases various artefacts from Melaka and neighbouring Islamic countries. It is also the centre of reference for issues related to the socio-economic status of the Malay community.
Porta de Santiago
Next to the DMDI Museum is the 5) Porta de Santiago, one of the four main gates of the A Famosa fortress. Built by the Portuguese in 1512 under the command of Alfonso de Albuquerque, the concrete fort had protected the Portuguese occupation of Melaka until it was overturned by the Dutch, causing severe damage to the port during the attack, which leaving only the ruins we see today. Porta de Santiago is the only remaining structure of the A Famosa fortress.
St. Paul’s Church
Not to be missed out on, of course, is the 6) St. Paul’s Church located at the summit of St. Paul Hill. The church was originally built by the Portuguese in 1521. The original structure was a simple chapel dedicated to the Virgin Mary, also known as Our Lady of the Hill. It is believed that St. Paul’s Church is the first Roman Catholic Church in South East Asia. The church was once used by St. Francis Xavier as his base for his missionary expedition to China and Japan. When St. Francis Xavier fell sick and died in Shangchuan Island, China in 1552, his body was disinterred from the island in 1553 and was temporarily buried at the church before it was finally shipped to Goa. You will still see St. Francis Xavier’s grave when you visit the church today.
There were so much more to explore at Padang Pahlawan, but dusk was looming, so we carried on and cycled along Jalan Parameswara to our next destination, Bukit Cina.
Sam Po Keng Temple
Admiral Cheng Ho
A 10-minute ride took us to 7) Sam Po Keng Temple at Bukit Cina. Bukit Cina is a huge Chinese graveyard covering over 25 hectares. It houses more than 12,000 graves, with the oldest tomb dating back to the Ming Dynasty in the year 1622. Bukit Cina is said to be the largest Chinese graveyard outside China. The temple was also said to be built to commemorate the famous voyager and navigator Admiral Cheng Ho. You will see a statue of 8) Admiral Cheng Ho to your left as you enter the temple.
St. Peter’s Church
It is amazing that we have explored quite a number of historical sites in just 2km into our cycling tour. Pedalling along Jalan Hang Li Poh yielded left via Lorong Haji Bachee to Jalan Tun Sri Lanang, 9) St. Peter’s Church is just 1.5km away. The oldest functioning Roman Catholic Church in Malaysia is built in 1710. The church is believed to be donated by the Dutch to the Portuguese. It is the only church in the country that has a life-size statue of Jesus.
Kampung Melayu Morte
traditional Malay house
Crossing the street took us to 10) Kampung Melayu Morten. Standing at the middle of the Morten Bridge above Sungai Melaka (Melaka River), we noticed that it was the only site that gave us a view of the blend of economic development of Melaka on one side and the beauty of traditional Malay village on the other. Kampung Melayu Morten is the only traditional Malay village at the heart of the city of Melaka. Some 11) traditional Malay houses along Persiaran Dato’ Othman are open to receive tourists.
Riverbank of Sungai Melaka
From this point on, we got the opportunity to cycle along the 12) riverbank of Sungai Melaka. The upgrading works on the riverbank, in recent years, have indeed made it conducive for tourists to walk and cycle along to explore the beauty of Melaka. The 1.5km riverbank ride took us to Jambatan Kg. Jawa.
Hand-made domestic goods
What used to be a jetty for traders of household and domestic goods, the fading tradition is still in existence with two rows of shops selling 13) hand-made domestic goods, many of which have been replaced by modern household utensils. For those who have not seen the handmade domestic utensils, a stop at Jalan Hang Kasturi will delight your eyes. It was definitely a thrill to find old timers who continue making household utensils by hand!
Turning right took us to 14) Harmony Street. Here, you will find a Muslim mosque (Kampung Kling Mosque), Hindu temple (Sri Poyatha Moorthi Temple) and the oldest traditional Chinese Temple (Cheng Hoon Teng Temple) situated adjacent to each other, a sight we can only find in multi-religious and multi-cultural Malaysia.
Before we ended our Melaka Historical Tour by Bicycle, we cycled along the famous 15) Jonker Street. Once known for its antique little shops, the street has now turned into a hot spot for shopping, crafts, local food, street bars and restaurants, especially during weekends, starting from Friday when the street is closed for street market.
Queen Victory Fountain
Malaysia Youth Museum
Our tour ended at the 16) Dutch Square, also known as the Red Square. The square has a 17) Queen Victory Fountain with 18) Malaysia Youth Museum, the 1753 19) Christ Church and 20) Stadthuys (now the home of the History, Ethnography and Literature Museums) surrounding it.
Cycling Route - Melaka Historical Tour by Bicycle
This Melaka Historical Tour by Bicycle is a perfect tour for those who have high curiosity about the history of Melaka, the influence of multiple cultures, and the sites and artefacts that have survived the test of time. This 3-hour, 7.26km radius trip, mostly on flat roads cycling tour is easy for cyclists and tourists of all ages. Most streets in the city centre of Melaka are narrow and short. Although cyclists might need to cycle with extra care, traffic tends to move at a slower pace due to how most streets were constructed.
This cycling tour package is provided by: GL Leisure Travel & Tour Sdn Bhd
No 17A, Lorong Setia 1, Ayer Keroh Heights, 75450 Melaka, Tel: 06-312 2155
- UNESCO World Heritage City
- St Francis Xavier Commemorative Stone
- Pokok Melaka
- Porta de Santiago
- St Paul’s Church
- Sam Po Keng Temple
- Bukit Cina
- Admiral Cheng Ho
- St Peter’s Church
- Kampung Melayu Morten
- Harmony Street
- Jonker Street
- Dutch Square
- Queen Victory Fountain
- Christ Church