Even in its current unfinished state, Kellie’s Castle’s grandeur is apparent. Today, the castle attracts visitors from near and far, who are curious to explore its mysteries.
Standing on a hill overlooking Batu Gajah, Perak, Kellie’s Castle is the most famous castle in Malaysia. A Scottish planter named William Kellie Smith built it in 1915 for his wife Agnes and in celebration of their second child Anthony, born 11 years apart from their daughter Helen. The castle combines Moorish, Roman and Indian architectural styles. William’s fascination with India and the Hindu religion largely influenced the latter. William even imported bricks and tiles from India to construct the castle. He also brought in 70 skilled Indian labourers from Madras to build it.
Setbacks and challenges
Spanish Flu in the 1920s hugely affected the construction of Kellie’s Castle. The plague killed many of his workers. Then came World War I, where the Japanese brutally murdered some of the workers. This resulted in the further delay of Kellie’s Castle’s construction.
Eventually, the construction of Kellie’s Castle halted altogether. William caught Pneumonia and died in Lisbon, in 1926 at age 56. Agnes and the kids went back to Scotland after selling Kellie’s Castle to British company Harrisons and Crossfield, never to return.
Exploring Kellie’s Castle
Today, Kellie’s Castle is a major attraction in Perak following a refurbishment to restore the castle to its original unfinished state. Tourism Malaysia took us on a tour of the castle recently, as part of a Mega Familiarisation Trip, which also took us to Penang and Kuala Lumpur. We have to say; reading about it just does not come close to being there in person.
While its name may sound romantic and it happened built out of love, Kellie’s Castle often portrayed as a haunted palace. There have been reports of people claiming to see spirits wandering about in the castle. Some claim that the spirit of William himself can remain seen on the second-floor corridor at night. The staircase at the corner of Kellie’s Castle says to be especially haunted. People also claimed to see a girl wearing a white blouse in one of the bedrooms. Many believe that she is the spirit of William’s daughter Helen. Spirits of the workers who died during the construction of it are also saying to haunt parts of the mansion.
Creepy yet magnificent
It is easy to see why people believe that Kellie’s Castle is haunted. Looking at it from a distance gave us a sense of eeriness. Up-close, the details became clear. The unpainted cobwebbed walls and ceilings, and the dirt-covered floors conjured up scenes from a horror movie. Moreover, the dark nooks and crannies stirred up the imagination.
Look past all that and you will discover a stunning building, even if incomplete. The tower on the left would have housed Malaysia’s first elevator leading supposedly down to underground tunnels. The arches, hallways and windows are exquisite, and the rooms are vast. There is a courtyard behind the castle. That connects to what is left of the second mansion. Climb up the stairs in the tower to the rooftop to enjoy a sweeping view of Batu Gajah. The rooftop would have been a place of social gatherings and elaborate parties.
Worth a visit
Haunted or otherwise, Kellie’s Castle makes for a great visit when you’re in Perak and should be in your bucket list. The castle would have made a splendid gift of love from William to his wife Agnes, had it not been for the tragedies that befell them.
More information on Kellie’s Castle can be found on Tourism Malaysia’s website at malaysia.travel/en/ay/places/states-of-malaysia/perak/kellies-castle.