If you had little time on your hands and were asked to visit just one place in Malaysia before you head out, then we’d say, zip your way through to Putrajaya because this is an experience that should not be missed. Our write Shonita gives you the complete low down!
(PS: Putrajay is one of the 10 places you must see in Kuala Lampur. Head over here to see the rest of them!)
Have you imagined what it must be like to walk onto the sets of the movie ‘Prince of Persia’ or even better, ‘The Game of Thrones’? Tall and majestic buildings with their intricate designs, minarets and onion shaped domes overlooking clear-blue waters of a flowing lake – isn’t it a site to behold!
Well then, welcome to Putrajaya!
‘Putra’ is a Sanskrit word for ‘son’ and ‘jaya’ stands for ‘victory or success.’ And the city is sure a victory, in the cap of mankind and of the Malaysian Government.
With a landmass of about 50 sq-km, Putrajaya is a completely man-made city named after first Malaysian Prime Minister, Tunku Abdul Rahman Putra Al-Haj. The city came to birth about 14 years ago but the construction began in the early 1990s.
As Malaysia grew, Kuala Lampur got too crowded. And in-part with ‘Modernizing Malaysia’ vision, the government undertook building this city and moving some of the office buildings to it. So while KL is still the capital, Putrajaya is deemed to be the futuristic seat of the government.
The architectural influence for the city comes from three Islamic countries – Iran, Iraq and Turkey. Broadly the city can be divided into two parts, separated by Putrajaya lake:
- Highland – which holds the government buildings
- Mainland – which has mixed development with some private property
As you enter the city on to the Highland, you’ll witness the first palatial structure with large green domes called ‘Perdana Putra’ or the Prime Minister’s Department. This serves as the PM’s office. At its front is the ‘Putra Square’, ironically a circular plaza with a star-shaped centre that holds the flags of each of the 13 states. And adjacent to it is the ‘Putra Mosque’ also called as the ‘Pink Mosque’ or the ‘Floating mosque’, owing to rose-tinted granite used to build it. This trinity is imposing, and is the first of many to come.
The Highland and the Mainland are connected by 8 Iconic Bridges; each having their own characteristic style. The architecture of each influenced by famous bridges around the world:
- Seri Perdana Bridge – Inspired by Islamic architecture
- Putra Bridge – Influenced by the Khaju Bridge, Iran
- Seri Wawasan Bridge – Cable bridge, designed to resemble a sail ship
- Seri Bakti Bridge – ‘The T-Bridge’
- Seri Saujana Bridge – Inspired by the Sydney Harbour Bridge, Australia
- Seri Bestari Bridge – The lovely U-shaped archs
- Seri Setia Bridge – Lancet-arch designs on its railing
- Seri Gemilang Bridge – Also called the Ceremonial bridge inspired by the Alexander Bridge in France (The Monorail Suspension Bridge is currently unused)
Putrajaya is a modern, self-sufficient city boasting of its own Wetland, Equestrian Park, an International University, Ferry Terminal, Hospital, Malls and the ‘Putrajaya Lake’ for a population of 30,000, mainly government officials and workers.
The other buildings of substantial interest that are a must-see are:
- The Iron Mosque – In one of its kinds, this modern-day-mosque is built without any mineral stone and can hold over 20,000 worshipers at one time. The water cooling system incorporated eliminates the need to install any air-conditioning.
- Seri Perdana – The official residence of the Prime Minister
- Istana Melawati – The second national palace of the King and Queen/the royal retreat.
- The National Monument –644 glass slabs record every significant achievement of the nation,
- Mini-twin Towers: That hold the Experimental Theatre
- Marina Putrajaya (the water sports centre) and the Water Sport Stadium
- The Finance Building – built in the shape of half a cup
- 4 Government Buildings – Rural, Communication, Housing and Women and Family Development offices, each built in a characteristic style
- The International Convention Centre– with 57 halls that can hold 10,000 people
However, it was the ‘Putrajaya Lake’ that caught most of my interest. This 650 hectares water body is a completely man-made, free-flowing freshwater lake that was built by combining the waters of two adjacent rivers. The water sent-in is filtered and holds 36 freshwater fish species. And along with acting as a sports centre, it doubles up as a ‘natural’ cooling system for this city. How cool is that!
With that, I’ll end my rant about Putra’s victory. Here’s hoping your trip is a success.
- If you plan on visiting the city, you can look up for guided tours that you can pre-book online. And if you don’t have the whole day, then make sure you take the ‘River Cruise’ down the lake. It’s an air-conditioned, 45 minute guided tour that covers most of the places and bridges. It’s easy, convenient and thoroughly enjoyable.
- Also, try looking up for festivals that take place in the city and plan your schedule to coincide with these, especially the water-fests.
- Make sure you carry enough sun-screen, a cap or an umbrella, cause you’ll be out in the sun for long.