The Wooden Palace of Seri Menanti, Malaysia

The Langkawi sky bridge may be a symbol of modern architectural achievement of Malaysia, but even century back Malays had acquired mastery over unique architectural skills. The evidence for this is an old wooden palace, Istana Lama Seri Menanti. Constructed during 1902 to 1908, this timber palace today has been turned to a royal museum and the unique feature of this palace that caught my attention while reading about this palace is that “it was constructed without using a single metal nail”.

 Wood carving was an essential skill in the earlier days and Malays had perfected this skill to such extent that the huge traditional wooden palaces they built for rulers stand strong even today. Most of them are held as private properties, the only one accessible to tourists is Istana Seri Menanti. It is a four storey building designed by two local Malay carpenters. Not a single metal nail has been used for its construction, the structure held together purely with mortise-and-tenon joints and hardwood dowels and rivets.

                             (Pic from Wikipedia)

The wooden palace is located amidst scenic surroundings, paddy fields and lush green forests, in the royal town of Seri Menanti in Negeri Sembilan state, just two hours away from Malaysia’s capital city of Kuala Lumpur. The roof-line of the palace con-caved upwards resembles the majestic sweep of a buffalo’s horns, very symbolic of the local Minangkabau culture. Its 99 pillars are worth mentioning: each of the pillars dedicated to 99 famous warriors of the state. The pillars are filled with intricate designs, themed on flowers, holy Quran, and various geometric designs.

 The beach destinations around does overshadow the significance of this palace, but definitely this is one ‘must see palace’ before time leaves its irreversible changes in the building!

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