One of the most prominent landmarks of Kuala Lumpur in yesteryear apart from the Sultan Abdul Samad Building must be the old Kuala Lumpur Railway Station whose function has now been replaced by the new and modern KL Sentral since 2001.
The old Kuala Lumpur Railway Station was designed by AB Hubback with significant Mughal architectural style. The same architectural style was also applied to the KTM Headquarters located across the road, the Sultan Abdul Samad Building and the Masjid Jamek (it was also designed by AB Hubback). In other words it was the contemporary architectural style at that time.
This majestic railway station complex was completed at a cost of $742,980.00 Straits Dollar (cost included straightening of some portions of the Klang River, bulding of a temporary station, as well as dismantling of the staff quarters and re-erecting them in Brickfields) and began its operation on 1 August 1910.
Mughal architecture is one of the exotic revival architectural styles that was adopted by architects of Europe and America in the wake of the Romanticist fascination with everything oriental. It is a mix of Islamic, Persian and Indian influence.
Mughal architecture has several significant features that are pretty easy to identify.
Take note of key-hole arches, ogee arches and horseshoe arches featured on this handsome building. These arches form a repetitive pattern on a straight row on each floor. Key-hole arches, horseshoe arches and ogee arches are among the features that identify Mughal architecture.
Next, look out for onion-shaped domes sitting on top of the buildings of Mughal architectural style. In fact domes are the most conspicuous characteristics of Mughal architecture.
Below the big domes are the chhatris – a flat plate that holds the dome. ‘Chhatri’ means canopy or umbrella. Chhatris are commonly found in Hindu as well as Mughal architecture. The chhatris here are supported by eight pillars.
Let your eyes run along the roofline. This type of roof-balcony, with its holed-wall is another feature of Mughal architecture, and is very suitable for the climate in Malaysia. The wall with holes is called ‘jali’ and they use repetitive patterns.
If you look into the main porch, you will see that the ceiling is very high and wide, to suit the tropic heat and allow for airflow to cool the place. After all, this is a railway station, where thousand move in and out daily.
This architectural masterpiece is said to be the most photographed railway stations in the world! I don’t have the verified source to support the claim though. However , judging by its majestic architecture and the British Raj image it represents it is surely one of the most photographed railway stations in the world.
It was gazetted as a heritage site on 14 April 1983.
I have photographed this heritage buildings a few times both in the early morning and in the late evening. It is during that time the building would look so majestic resulting from the dramatic and contrasty light of the warm low-angled light. This will also result in interesting shadow interplay thanks to its multi-faceted geomatric design.
Photographing it was a sheer joy. I hope this architectural gem would be well preserved by the government and more effort should be taken to ensure that it is put to good use befitting this grandiose edifice.
Do enjoy the photos and I welcome any comments and criticism. More pictures of the Old Kuala Lumpur Railway Station can be found here.
The old KL Railway Station acts as a foreground interest framing the modern Kuala Lumpur skyscrapers in the background visible among them are KL Tower, Menara Maybank and Petronas Twin Towers.