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Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Alor Setar Festival time - Kedah

THERE’S no time like the present to visit Alor Setar, capital of Kedah. From today till the end of August, more than 20 exciting events have been lined up to celebrate the 50th Anniversary of Sultan Abdul Halim Mu’adzam Shah’s accession to the throne of Kedah. Among the exciting events held in conjunction with the Golden Jubilee are the public presentation and Kedah Exposition (Stadium Darul Aman) today and July 17 respectively, a dinner party in Stadium Sultan Abdul Halim on July 23 and 100th Anniversary celebration of Sultan Abdul Hamid College (next to the railway station) on July 26.

Next month, there’s the river sports festival (Ampang Jajar, next to Mardi Complex) on Aug 2, decorative float procession (Dataran Tunku, opposite Pekan Rabu) on Aug 8 and tattoo demonstration (Stadium Darul Aman) on Aug 25. Historical Sights Apart from the excitement, visitors should also take the opportunity to take in the interesting sights around the State capital. Founded some 300 years ago, Alor Setar is one of the oldest settlements in the country and tourists only need to go to the historic Padang Court or Medan Bandar to see the many historical buildings that are still standing today. Even locals enjoy taking a leisurely stroll around this area, considered the oldest part of town, in the evenings to reminisce the past and to enjoy the architecture of some of the finest buildings in the country. An added advantage to visiting the Padang Court in the evenings is listening to the Nobat or the Royal Kedah Orchestra. The Nobat musicians assemble every evening at the Balai Nobat (Nobat Hall) to play during the maghrib and isyak prayer times of the Muslims.

Among the other interesting buildings at Padang Court are the Balai Besar (Grand Audience Hall), Sultan Abdul Halim Galleria (previously the High Court Complex), Masjid Zahir (Zahir Mosque), Bangunan Jam Besar (Big Clock Building), Balai Seni Negeri (State Art Gallery), Wan Mat Saman Building and Istana Pelamin. Sultan’s Alma Mater Outside the city centre, tourists can walk through the corridors of Sultan Abdul Hamid College where the Sultan spent part of his school years. Holding the record as the State’s first English school, Sultan Abdul Hamid College was established in 1908 as the Government English School (GES). Its current name was only adopted in 1935 after the name of the Sultan’s grandfather, Sultan Abdul Hamid. It celebrates its centenary this year.

The Sultan studied here after the end of the Japanese Occupation and Second World War (1946 -1949). Sultan Abdul Hamid College is also credited with having produced many famous personalities, including two former prime ministers — Tunku Abdul Rahman and Tun Mahathir Mohamad. Peek Into History After all the walking, it may be a good idea to take a break and the best place to do this is at Merdeka Gardens, the city’s green lung that was established in 1957 to commemorate the country’s Independence. Here, look out for the Emergency Memorial, set up in memory of those who died during the tumultuous communist insurgency that lasted 12 harrowing years from 1948.

Then, walk across the road to the State Museum Complex for a comprehensive history of Kedah, one of Malaysia’s oldest States with an unbroken royal lineage dating over 1,000 years! Sultan Abdul Halim ascended the throne on July 14, 1958, upon the demise of his father, Sultan Badlishah. He was subsequently declared the 28th Sultan of Kedah on Feb 20, 1959.

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