Istana Negara is Malaysia’s National Palace. Built in 1928, it is located along Jalan Istana and the 13-acre castle used to be the official residence of the Yang di-Pertuan Agong (King) of Malaysia. In June 2011, it was replaced by a new, extravagant RM800 million palace near Jalan Duta, Kuala Lumpur.
The old Istana Negara is situated on a slope in Bukit Petaling overlooking the Klang River, along Jalan Syed Putra. Its grounds are not open to the public, so the Main Palace Entrance is usually the spot where tourists take pictures. Also called The Big House, it was originally a double-storey mansion owned by local Chinese millionaire Chan Wing.
History of Istana Negara
From 1942 – 1945, Istana Negara housed the Japanese governor during the Japanese occupation. In 1945, after the Japanese surrendered, the British Military Administration (BMA) commandeered the mansion as a senior military officers’ mess. The formation of the Federation of Malaya in 1950 saw the house rented out by the Selangor State Government until Malaysia’s independence (merdeka) in 1957.
Later on, Istana Negara was renovated and turned into the Sultan of Selangor’s home and in 1957 the property was sold to the Federal Government. Officials then officially converted the building to be used as the residence of the newly-created sovereign post of Yang di-Pertuan Agong of Malaya.
Improvements of Istana Negara
Since then, Istana Negara has undergone much renovation and several extensions, with the most widespread upgrading works carried out in 1980. This was when the first Installation Ceremony for His Majesty DYMM Seri Paduka Baginda Yang di-Pertuan Agong was held at the Istana Negara in 1957. Before this, previous Installation Ceremonies were held at the Tunku Abdul Rahman Hall in Jalan Ampang.
Structure of Istana Negara in KL
The Istana Negara grounds are spread out over 28-acres – within the compound is a beautiful garden, swimming pool, six-hole golf course, lake, an indoor badminton court and tennis courts. For safety purposes, there is a guard house for members of the Royal Malay Regiment and at the main entrance, similar to Buckingham Palace, are two guard posts on each side of the arch with members of the cavalry in full dress uniform.
Istana Negara is bordered by a wall with the Malaysian coat of arms, featuring the Royal Insignia of His Majesty, placed on the steel bars between each fenced pillar. The cypress and casuarina-lined driveway leads to two entrances – the East Wing and West Wing.
Interior of Istana Negara KL
Istana Negara is divided into two sections: the East Wing and West Wing. The East Wing is home to the Balairong Seri – the throne room of the Yang di-Pertuan Agong, which is only used for official and ceremonial functions. This is the room most often seen in pictures and telecasts of the palace; it sometimes serves as a banquet hall.
The second floor has a few thematic rooms including the Dewan Mengadap, where the King receives honoured guests, the Bilik Duta, a room dedicated to the King’s meetings with the Prime Minister and the Bilik Permaisuri, where the Queen entertains her guests. The West Wing of the palace is dedicated to the Bilik Mesyuarat Raja-Raja – Kings’ meeting room – where the Conference of Rulers is usually held.
Like the old palace, the RM800 million complex is not open to the public. Visitors are only able to catch a glimpse of the magnificent and ostentatious complex along Jalan Duta from outside its entrance gates. Works for the construction of the new castle began in mid-2007, with the palace fully completed in June 2011. The old Istana Negara is due to be turned into a museum but peaceful local protest may derail this plan.
- Location: Jalan Istana, Kuala Lumpur