Friday, March 27, 2009

Unsung Heroes and the National Monument - Kuala Lumpur

A ten-ringgit taxi faretook me from the Petaling area (Chinatown) to the winding streets and lush greenery of Jalan Parlimen, in southwest Kuala Lumpur. Though it was a relatively short ride, I got the feeling it was taking me farther away from the bustling metropolis. I basked in the warm but gentle balm of the morning sun as visions of a very clean city slide past before me.

What initially greeted me was a
sculpture park at the foot of the hill – which we shall feature in the next few days. The aforementioned park even had a Philippine entry, though run-down and falling to pieces. It is easy to see why this whole southwest area is a personal favorite. The throng of backpackers that congest Jalan Alor and Bukit Bintang seem unaware of the existence of this part of the city, thus I was practically left to wander the area.

After enjoying the sculpture park, I leisurely trotted up the flight of steps that lead to the hill, a sprawling memento of Malaysian patriotism and courage.


Tugu Negara – more popularly called “National Monument” – commemorates the unsung heroes of the country during its struggle against the Japanese colonizers during World War II and the
Malayan Emergency, which stretched for more than a decade (1948-1960). Situated southwest of Kuala Lumpur, the bronze monument depicts soldiers hoisting the Malaysian Flag - the Jalur Gemilang, symbolizing the courage and sacrifice of those who fought for freedom!


The present structure is just one of several incarnations that seek to honor the Malay heroes. This latest structure was constructed and designed by Austrian sculptor
Felix de Weldon, the same one responsible for the famed USMC War Memorial in Virginia, United States. Granite based and standing 49.21 feet tall (15 meters), the bronze sculpture bears inscriptions in English with Roman script as well as Malay-Jawi script – “"Dedicated to the heroic fighters in the cause of peace and freedom, May the blessing of Allah be upon them".

Every day at dusk, a soldier raises the national flag and lowers it at dawn.

Getting In and Out: On Taxis and the Pests

I shall suggest that any visit to the
National Monument should be done early in the day. I find this time of day of certain advantage in dealing with the pesky taxi drivers. They easily agree to a fixed 10-ringgit rate if you ask early in the day. My brother recently visited the area this March – upon my prodding, of course, and as per his penchant to oversleep; he got to the park well close to midday. Result: he had to exasperatingly skip 6 taxis who wouldn’t agree on a 10-ringgit fare ($2.80 or PhP133.60) from Bukit Nintang to Jalan Parlimen. After spending 30 minutes haggling, he finally agreed to a 20-ringgit fare ($5.53 or PhP267.15).

Getting out is even trickier. Of course you have to spend a good part of the day walking around, checking out the other adjoining areas: the Lake Gardens, the Bird Park, the Putterfly Park, the Hibiscus Garden, the Orchid Park, the Police Museum, etc. Your possible departure would be from
the Bird Park or the Orchid Garden. Unless you prefer to take my route and brave a strenuous walk through winding by-ways of the Lake Gardens until you find KL Sentral, then you have to take another taxi out. These drivers will only agree to take you to the nearby KL Sentral (again- ridiculous)!

Entrance feenone

Visiting Hours
7AM to 6PM

This cenotaph is one of the first of the National Monuments situated at the back of the present structure, where the Park Tugu Negara entrance is.

Back entrance of the Tugu Negara - the Park!

The steps from the hilly side entrance leading to the front of the monument facing Jalan Parlimen.

If you prefer nature's flora, a bit of the sun, and vast open spaces in your visits, instead of the concrete jungle, then the Eye in the Sky strongly recommends that you visit the National Monument and its adjoining area!

Please visit here for more photos:

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