The fifth Sultan of Selangor, Sultan Alauddin Sulaiman had a dream. He visualised a big palace made of wood and marble, with fifteen rooms to cater for countless royal functions. He would design for his Queen a spacious and beautiful courtyard where she could repose and enjoy her moment of quietude. He would also need a grand balcony from where he would stand behold, while addressing his subjects. In keeping with Malay architecture, the roofs of the palace would be adorned with trimmings of intricate wooden carvings.

In 1905, his dream came to life. Sultan Alauddin remained in residence at Istana Bandar for 35 years. From this palace he governed, received numerous important British and foreign dignitaries, held important official and religious ceremonies, and taught his descendants the strategies of becoming powerful rulers.

Take your time to dissolve into this realm that Sultan Alauddin had created. Be captivated by its fascinating architecture. There are unmistakable marks of Islamic influence in its aesthetic design - a delightful blend of Indian and Middle Eastern elegance; all this inspired Sultan Alauddin in building his dream palace. Masterful craftsmen from China were shipped in, their skills utilised in the making of wooden carvings, adding a dash of Chinese brilliance in the general overall artistry.

An enfolding atmosphere of romanticism permeates throughout the grounds of Istana Bandar. A huge tree stands guarding the courtyard, magnanimously stretching its arms providing a generous canopy. This rouses visions of the Queen sitting gracefully in a swing strung from a sturdy branch. Ladies-in-waiting gently pushing the swing to sway smoothly and lightly. Before the great Lady, courtiers sit around entertaining her with melodious songs and beautiful smiles.

Wander around the back, and you will find an altogether different domain. This must have been the dominion where the loyal servants reigned. Small rooms with tiny windows for them to bunk in. Spacious long halls for them to dine and mingle. Perhaps to have a game of congkak or may be even checkers. And probably also where senior servants reaffirmed the rules of the House, and disciplined the irresponsible and the neglectful.

Today, Istana Bandar still stands. Regrettably, unlike its glory days, it lives a solitary life, destitute of its genteel inhabitants. Its rooms are quiet and empty. Its grounds no longer hears the sweet serenade of the ladies-in-waiting. Istana Bandar now shares its compound with the Centre for Quranic Studies. It also plays host to the Islamic Department of Selangor. According to a friendly local, during the fasting month of Ramadhan the Sultan returns to Istana Bandar to listen to the recitation of the Quran. Happily, during this holy month, Istana Bandar once again glows as it reminisces the happier memories of days gone by. Source Article: Journey Malaysia

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