Closer to the southern border of Thailand than to Kuala Lumpur, the state capital of Kedah has interesting architecture that the traveler can visit. Alor Setar Architecture is mostly historic and heritage enthusiasts will definitely enjoy these old structures. Apart from these heritage buildings, there are also a few modern ones worthy of mention.
Masjid Al Bukhary
The Masjid Al Bukhary in the Al Bukhary Complex is an impressive Alor Setar architecture. The mosque’s white walls topped with beautiful lapis lazuli domes make it a sight to behold. The oasis like setting, with its palm trees, geometric tile paving and pools makes the place calming and serene.
Tan Sri Syed Mokhtar Albukhary, one of Malaysia’s richest and Alor Setar’s local son built the mosque. Its lapiz lazuli domes were applied by craftsmen brought in from a former Soviet Union state.
Perhaps, one of the most beautiful mosques in all of Malaysia, Masjid Zahir (Zahir Mosque) is awe inspiring especially when you see it early in the morning when the sun is just starting its ascent. The mosque, built in 1912 was inaugurated three years later. It is almost a spitting image of the Masjid Azizi in Sumatra, Indonesia which was its basis. The structure is white with black bulbous domes in a sea of green.
A beautiful heritage structure, Balai Besar, built in 1735, is the Audience Hall of the Istana Kota Star, the royal palace. It has been a venue for weddings, state meetings and installation of two sultans. It has heavy Thai influence, has a beautiful twin staircase, airy and made of wood. The lattice work is quite intricate.
Kota Kuala Kedah
Located at the mouth of the Kuala Kedah (Kedah River), Kota Kuala Kedah is a historic fort that was first built in the 17th century by the Portuguese. It was then strengthened in 1771 by Sultan Abdullah Mukarram Shah and has been a silent witness to the struggles of Kedah with the Portuguese and British, the ruling sultans and the invading Bugis and Siamese. The fort gates are still existing while the main structure, a beautiful heritage building is now a museum.
Kedah State Art Gallery
The Balai Seni Negeri (Kedah State Art Gallery) is a stately architecture built in 1893 and functioned as a courthouse. Today, it is the venue of various art exhibits in the capital city.
Galeri Sultan Abdul Halim Mu’adzam Shah
Another stately architecture and just opposite the Balai Seni Negeri is another museum dedicated to the ruling sultan. The Galeri Sultan Abdul Halim Mu’adzam Shah used to be the state’s high court and was built in 1922.
The Balai Nobat is a beautiful octagonal tower in the center of the city and built in 1735. The tower is where the royal musical instruments are kept. It’s just infront of the Galeri Sultan Abdul Halim Mu’adzam Shah.
Menara Jam Besar
The Menara Jam Besar was built in 1912 and is the city’s clock tower. When it opened, it called Muslims to prayer. The tower, with its beautiful Islamic design, is one of Malaysia’s beautiful clock towers found in some historic towns.
Rumah Kelahiran Mahathir
Alor Setar is the birthplace of Malaysia’s visionary Prime Minister Mahathir Mohammad. His childhood home has been restored and is open to the public. Central to this complex is the traditional house where he grew up and showcases his humble beginnings and life.
Wat Nikordharam is another Alor Setar architecture that oe should check out. It’s a Siamese temple with interesting details and colors with a fusion of Thai and Chinese elements. It’s nearness to the Thai border might be one reason why this was built as there is also a Thai community in the city.
Menara Alor Setar
Rising at 165.6 meters, the Menara Alor Setar is the second tallest telecoms tower in Malaysia after KL Tower in Kuala Lumpur. Its particularly beautiful at night when its fully lighted up. Tourists can go up to the observation deck at the top affording a 360 degree view the city and its surroundings. It was built in 1997.
The Muzium Padi (Paddy Museum) is a modern structure built at the base of Gunung Keriang (Elephant Mountain). The architecture is based from the bushels of rice often placed in rice paddies ready for planting. It has dioramas and other exhibits on anything about rice and its cultivation.