Saturday, May 12, 2007

Singapore History 101

Fort Canning Park

There were three stops in Fort Canning Park during the Car Rally. The first picture shows a sign about the Battle Box, underground corridors and rooms that the British built in Fort Canning in 1936. This was an important site because the decision to surrender to the Japanese during World War II was made here in 1942.

The most impressive site was Fort Gate. Fort Canning was used as a military base by the British (who built it), the Japanese (during World War II), and Singapore’s armed forces (once it became a country). The government of Singapore demolished the fort in the 1970’s to make room for a reservoir. This gate and the adjoining wall are all that remain.

In the 14th century, Singapore was part of Malaysia and ruled by Malay kings. The third picture you see is information about the last of these kings, Iskandar Shah. When Sir Stamford Raffles came to Singapore from England in 1819, the Malays indicated that the hill that Fort Canning was later built on was called the “Forbidden Hill”. When the hill was cleared of jungle, ruins were found. It seems this was the place where the old kings had their palaces. A “keramat”, or tomb of a holy person, was also found. The tradition is that this tomb is for Iskandar Shah, who died around 1420.

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