Kuala Kubu Bharu
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|Kuala Kubu Bharu
كوالا كوبو بهرو
|• Council President||Mohamad Zain A. Hamid|
|Vehicle registration||B, W|
Kuala Kubu Bharu (Chinese: 新古毛, alternately known as Kuala Kubu Baru, Kuala Kubu Bahru or Kuala Kubu Baharu; commonly referred to as KKB), is the district capital of Hulu Selangor District, Selangor, Malaysia. It was built after the town of Kuala Kubu was found to be unfit to continue as a town due to its severe flood problem, particularly when it was completely destroyed in a flood disaster in 1883 (bharu is a Malay word meaning new). Kuala Kubu Bharu is located on the foothill of the famous Titiwangsa Mountain Range and well known as one of the vital water catchment area for the state of Selangor.
Kuala Kubu Baru, or KKB as it is fondly known, is often thought of by travellers as a sleepy town in Selangor, but a deeper look into its origins reveals a history that is both enriching and charming.
It is located approximately 70 km from the capital city of Kuala Lumpur through Route 1 and is the main gateway for people heading to one of Malaysia’s favourite hill stations, Fraser's Hill, which is a 45-minute drive away from KKB.
KKB before its establishment in 1925, started off as the town of Kuala Kubu. Well known as a mining town in the 18th century, originally located between two tributaries of the Selangor River. In its heyday, it was the second biggest town in Selangor. It also served as a fort for Raja Mahadi and Syed Mashor when they fought against Tengku Kudin’s army during the Selangor Civil War from 1867 to 1874. A fortress (kubu in the Malay language) was constructed in the area before the British colonial powers took over the town.
During the later part of the 19th century, Kuala Kubu was placed under administration of the Administrative Resident Sir Frank Athelstane Swettenham, followed by JP Rodger and Edward Maxwell. At that time, Kuala Kubu was a gateway to the state of Pahang through what is today Route 55.
However, tragedy struck in 1883 when a heavy downpour caused the Kuala Kubu dam to burst open and flood the town, affecting its tin mining activities and killing 33 people, including the then District's Magistrate and Tax Collector Officer, Cecil Ranking. Thirty-eight homes were also destroyed.
Ranking had supposedly shot a white crocodile which was regarded as the river guardian despite being told not to do so. According to local beliefs, his act had caused the calamity to occur and all that was left of him was his hand. Ranking’s hand was interred in a grave at the Kuala Kubu Planter's Club House (now demolished and replaced with Masjid Ar-Rahimiah). Since then, the old town has been known as Ampang Pechah (Broken Dam), and locals termed the flooding as the Kuala Kubu Tragedy.
After the incident, the British Federated Malay States (FMS) government established a new town, calling it Kuala Kubu Bharu (“bharu” meaning new in the Malay language) in an area located on the north of the old town of Kuala Kubu. Kuala Kubu Bharu formally became the administrative centre of Hulu Selangor district in 1931.
Another tragedy struck in 1951 when Sir Henry Gurney, the then British High Commissioner to Malaya, was assassinated by communist insurgents who ambushed his Rolls Royce along the Jalan Kuala Kubu Baru–Fraser's Hill road.
The Hulu Selangor District Council was established on 1 January 1975 to administer the district of Hulu Selangor which included Kuala Kubu Bharu and the surrounding towns of Batang Kali and Serendah. On 15 January 1994, the new Administrative Office of Hulu Selangor District Council has moved to the present site at Jalan Bukit Kerajaan, replacing the former location in the former Old Market in Kuala Kubu Bharu town.
The Kuala Kubu Town Tragedy (1883)
Previously, there was a town called Kuala Kubu nearby. In February 1883 the Kuala Kubu town was destroyed by a great flood caused by a broken dam near the town. Many of civilians were drowned and lost their home. 33 people were killed including the Magistrate and Tax Collector of Hulu Selangor during the British Malaya era, Cecil Ranking. However, the old town was severely flooded and most of the old town's facilities were damaged beyond repair. A Buddhist temple and a mosque (now known as Masjid Al-Hidayah Ampang Pechah) survived the flood. The old town has since been known as Ampang Pechah, or Broken Dam in the Malay language. The tragedy was probably known as Tragedi Kuala Kubu by local civilians.
After the tragedy, the British Federated Malay States (FMS) government decided to build a new town near the remains of Kuala Kubu. The new town was named Kuala Kubu Bharu, with Bharu meaning "new" in the Malay language. The planning of this new site was undertaken by Charles Crompton Reade, the government town planner of the FMS in 1925 along the garden city ideas: with compact town centre encircled by a parkbelt; entrance to the centre were approached by two access designed in an angular fashion to provide visually attractive vista to the town upon approaching the centre. This new town growth was hastened after 1931 after another major flood at the old town site. Reade's planning ideas of KKB along garden city lines has now been slowly recognized as the first garden city in the country. Given this status much conservation work needs to be undertaken to retain as much as possible its original layout, ideas and history.
Ampang Pechah is the original site of the Kuala Kubu located south from Kuala Kubu Bharu new town. A Buddhist temple, Cecil Ranking's gravestone and Masjid Al-Hidayah Ampang Pechah are the only remaining proof of Kuala Kubu existence and its tragedy in the past.
KKB has retained most of its charm with its traditional and quaint shophouses, a 1930s clock tower and an old fire station. A Buddhist temple that survived the flood was refurbished in the 1980s, and is also another attraction, while Cecil Ranking’s grave, presently within the compound of MRSM Kuala Kubu Bharu, might be a stop for those interested in KKB’s history. Cecil Ranking's grave also acts as a monument, commemorating the 1883's flood disaster.
Colonial shophouses still make up most of KKB’s architectural landscape, spanning from the 1920s to the 1980s, which makes it ideal for pleasant walking tours. Its grid-iron street layout are made up of sundry shops, eateries, traditional barber and even a former cinema, converted into an entertainment centre. Visitors can also enjoy the cool weather as KKB is surrounded by lush trees and tropical jungle. Cyclist enthusiasts can be seen especially during the weekend wondering the KKB environment and finally taking a break/rest at the mamak corner shop in the town.
Typical tourist attractions that can be explored in KKB include an art gallery and the old railway station. There are a few budget hotels, a golf course, bus terminal and KTM Komuter train station but not much else exists in terms of infrastructure and facilities.
The town is hardly what you call hectic, but there is a fair amount of activity that goes on. Locals go about their daily routine and there are plenty of restaurants to sample local Malaysian food. One place to enjoy home-styled Hainanese cooking in a traditional shophouse is Sun Sun Seng Nam. The old Malaya style restaurant still maintains its old fixtures and signages, and customers can choose to sit in the traditional wooden booths to enjoy famous Hainanese dishes. Another spot to please the hungry traveller is Teng Wun bakery, famous for its kaya puffs and cupcakes
KKB has been a choice retreat for the renowned Malaysian writer, Rehman Rashid, who completed his celebrated book, 'A Malaysian Journey'; he also devoted KKB in its Epilogue (August 31, 1992). KKB too, is also referred to in a song by the celebrated Malaysian singer, Sudirman Arshad, JOGET KENANGAN MANIS, where he suggested Kalau Pergi Kuala Kubu Tulis Nama Atas Batu. (translate: If you go to/visit Kuala Kubu write your name on the rock/stone).
Some of the famous attractions in KKB, among others are:-
- Buddhist Temple of the old town, which survived the 1883 flood and was refurbished in 1980s.
- Kuala Kubu Bharu town centre
- Kuala Kubu Road old railway station
- Cecil Ranking's gravestone, a monument located within the MRSM Kuala Kubu Bharu
- Broken Dam (Ampang Pecah), the site of the old town of Kuala Kubu
- Chiling waterfalls, 50 meters tall.
- the site of Sir Henry Gurney's murder at Jalan Kuala Kubu Bharu–Raub (Federal Route )
- New Dam built in Kampung Pertak (15-minutes drive from the town). The highest Dam in Malaysia. Better known as Sungai Selangor Dam.
- Kuala Kubu Bharu Golf course
- the old mosque of Kuala Kubu, Masjid Al-Hidayah Ampang Pechah
- the stone monument (1925), commemorating the Silver Jubilee of King George V, located in front of Masjid Ar-Rahimiah Kuala Kubu Bharu
- the art-deco clock tower (1937), located in front of Hulu Selangor District and Land Office, on top of the hill (Bukit Kerajaan) overlooking the town of KKB. This clock tower was built to commemorate the coronation of King George VI
- Alor Lempah, a recreational area along the Selangor River, located south of KKB, near to the original site of Ampang Pechah
- Bukit Kutu (formerly known as Treacher's Hill). Popular with hikers.
- Hulu Selangor District and Land Office
- Hulu Selangor District Police Headquarters
- Government office at Bukit Kerajaan
- Masjid Jamek Al-Rahimiah
- Perpustakaan Syed Masahor (Hulu Selangor District Library)
- Kuala Kubu Bharu post office
- Majlis Daerah Hulu Selangor (MDHS) headquarters
- Stadium Mini Kuala Kubu Bharu
- Hospital Kuala Kubu Bharu
KKB is easily accessible by public transport from Kuala Lumpur. KTM Komuter’s northern run from the city reaches KA14 Kuala Kubu Bharu railway station, which is stationed just north of downtown KKB. From Kuala Lumpur, one must alight at Rawang station to switch trains (Platform 2 for trains to KKB). Alternatively, hop on to one of the buses heading towards Tanjung Malim from Rawang, and get off in KKB.
As at 2013, the taxi rides are about RM5 for the 3 km journey into KKB.
Route 55 sometimes serves as an toll-free alternative to the Karak Highway as the gateway to East Coast states of Pahang, Terengganu and Kelantan for Selangor/Klang Valley motorists.
On the national level Kuala Kubu Bharu is part of the Hulu Selangor parliamentary constituency, currently represented by Kamalanathan Panchanathan of the federal ruling coalition Barisan Nasional. He is also currently the Deputy Minister of Education.
- Adopted from Tragedi Kuala Kubu 1883 - Buku Rekod Malaysia Edisi Kedua, Ghulam Jie M Khan