Gunung Gajah at 355 metres above sea level overlooks Pekan Jeram. It is accessible from the old trunk road at Kg. Kuala Dipang. The hill is shaped like an elephant thus the name, Gajah. Scaling the hill requires more than just determination, as the going is pretty tough. But to dedicated trekkers, taking a dip in the Salu Waterfall is a welcome relief. A popular picnic spot for weekenders.
Gunung Rapat is visible from the old trunk road to Simpang Pulai, about 5km south-east of city centre. Standing at 381 metres above sea level the hill is home to several Buddhist temples, the most popular being the Kek Lok Tong Temple and the Perak Tong Temple. Both are a huge draw for devotees and the curious.
The inaugural Royal Belum Drums Festival on Sunday, February 26 attracted over 6,000 spectators who crammed MBI Square, Ipoh on its opening night. This unique gathering of drummers, musicians and dancers representing 10 nations, including Malaysia, put on a superb performance which kept the mixed crowd of young and old rooted to their seats and spots.
Chief Minister, Dato’ Seri DiRaja Zambry Abd Kadir launched the 3-hour musical fest which, according to Dato’ Hamidah Osman, Executive Councillor for Tourism, will be made an annual event forthwith.
The encore at the Grik airstrip on the night of Sunday, February 26 was a fitting tribute to its namesake. Grik is at the fringe of the 130-million-year old Royal Belum rainforest. HRH Raja Muda Perak, Raja Dr Nazrin Shah who graced the occasion, formally closed the musical extravaganza. Some 10,000 music lovers packed the airstrip and helped enliven this obscure capital town of Hulu Perak District.
Visit Perak Year 2012 was officially launched on Saturday, February 11 at the Dataran MBI, Ipoh. Over a thousand people thronged the square to witness the ceremony which was graced by Dato’ Hamidah Osman, Executive Councillor for Tourism and Mayor Dato’ Roshidi Hashim.
“We hope to attract more tourists to Perak. Ipoh has its own uniqueness. Heritage buildings in the city are a huge attraction. They’re maintained and continuously upgraded, in the hope that more people would come and see them,” she said.
Thirty one programmes are planned throughout the year. Among the highlights are the recently concluded Royal Belum Drums Festival, the Ipoh International Run in July and the International Youth Rainforest Exploration in November.
Gunung Tempurung is so called because it is shaped like an inverted coconut shell. Standing at 497 metres above sea level, Gunung Tempurung is accessible from the old trunk road at Kg. Mesah Hulu, 3km south of Gopeng. Within Gunung Tempurung is Gua Tempurung which is almost 2km long making it one of the country’s longest caves. A river flows at the lower part of the cave. From the main entrance a boardwalk ascends for about 200 metres before approaching the first cavern. It was a noted Communist terrorists’ hideout during the Japanese Occupation and the Malayan Emergency.
Gunung Kandu (195 metres) is close to the Kandu Eco Adventure Camp, a boot camp for outdoor enthusiasts. Due to its largely unspoilt terrain and greenery, the area is an ideal spot for eco-tourism. Gunung Kandu has many cave systems, the largest being Gua Kandu which is over a kilometre long. The cave systems were used by the Japanese Imperial Army during the Japanese Occupation (1942 to 1945) and by Communist insurgents during the Malayan Emergency (1948 to 1960).
The singular most conspicuous natural objects that are found in abundance in the Kinta Valley are limestone hills and caves. They are reputed to be between 250 and 350 million years old, with the oldest over 400 million years. There are about 45 outcrops in total and they come in varying shapes and sizes. The extensiveness of the limestone deposits beneath the ground is remarkable. A geological survey conducted in 1960 estimated the amount to be in excess of 700 sq. km. The depth is unknown.
Kinta Valley’s limestone is made largely of calcite or calcium carbonate or dolomite (combination of calcite and magnesium carbonate). It is mostly white, pale grey or tinged with yellow although there are variations due to the presence of iron. Marble is found in some hills.
Erosion at the base of the outcrops has resulted in the formation of caves. The caves are magnificent both in size, features and in some instances, biological life.
Tin was found in abundance amongst the hills, washed down from the granite upper layers. This resulted in Kinta Valley becoming the world’s largest exporter of tin in the 20th century. The last deep quarry closed in the 1999. Today due to market demand, limestone quarrying continues unabated, despite protestations.
The limestone hills and caves are located between Kanthan, in the north and Kuala Dipang, in the south. Most are visible and accessible from the old trunk road. Gunung Tempurong, however, is best viewed from the PLUS Expressway.
Six limestone hills including their dedicated caves will be featured here. Descriptions of the hills and caves are made based on observations beginning from Gunung Lang in the north to Gunung Gajah in the south. The accompanying map will be a good guide for those keen on having a piece of the action. However, a word of caution for the brave hearts – you have to be physically fit to venture out on your own or with your friends. Ropes, torchlight, maps, hand phones, food and water are some of the items you must have on you.
Gunung Lanno at 407 metres above sea level overlooks the old trunk road and the former mining town of Kg. Kepayang. It is about 10km (as the crow flies) south-east of city centre. A view from atop Gunung Lanno is a must. But getting to the top can be a little strenuous. The lake east of the hill is a haven for fishing buffs.
St Michael’s Institution (SMI), (icon 7) of the Ipoh Heritage Trail Map 1 will be celebrating its centennial (100 years) this year.
The school is the second mission school in Ipoh and started with just 37 students in a large double storey half-brick, half-wooden bungalow house in a coconut plantation.
Interestingly, due to a shortage of Christian brothers, its first Headmaster was a Sikh convert, Mr P.J. Morsingh a teacher from St Xavier’s Institution Penang.
The design of the building is described as Neo-Gothic architecture and its facade of the present day building is 177 feet wide.
On the third floor of the building is its chapel, recently restored in 2011, whose design was inspired by the celebrated Sainte Chapelle on the Ile de la Cite in Paris. In preparation for the centennial year the school converted a classroom into a Heritage Gallery to to showcase the Lasallian and Michaelian heritage as well as capturing the rich and invaluable history of the 100-year old school.
Gunung Lang is located by the side of Jalan Kuala Kangsar about 3km north of downtown Ipoh. It is the city’s second most popular public park after Polo Ground. The Gunung Lang Park has three man-made lakes which were former mining pools. Visitors can enjoy the scenic view from atop the limestone outcrop or view it at ground level from the paved pathway. Boat rides are available.