Historical former State Mosque
Tengkera Mosque and Kampung Hulu Mosque near the Melaka River both date from 1728; there is some debate as to which wins the accolade as oldest mosque in Malaysia.
Until the opening of Al Azim Mosque in 1990, Tengkera Mosque was Melaka’s State Mosque, indicating that it may have greater historical significance. The original structure was less elaborate than the form we see today, built of ironwood with a simple nipa palm roof. A number of modifications thought its history led to its present profile in 1910. Both mosques, along with later Kampung Kilng Mosque, Peringgit Mosque and their contemporaries in Melaka, follow what is known as the “Melaka Style”, with a Hindu-meru-style triple-tiered roof and four central pillars, along with Chinese influenced pagoda-like minaret. Decorative elements borrow from both Oriental and Occidental architectural vocabulary, reflective of Melaka’s rich trading history, with motifs strongly influenced by the local natural environment.
As well as corresponding aesthetics, the symbolism is consistent: The stepped rooftop is symbolic of the relationship between man, nature and God. The ornamentation on Tengkera Mosque, located two kilometres west of Melaka’s colonial district, is more elaborate than its city cousins, extensively carved with ornate floral devices. Note the fine detail on the pillars and door and window frames and the fanciful mimbar (pulpit).
In the mosque’s adjacent graveyard is the Mausoleum of Sultan Hussein Mohamed Shah of Johor, who was responsible for the signing over of Singapore to Sir Stamford Raffles in 1819. He continued to live in Singapore receiving his monthly stipend of $1,300 from the British until 1834, when he moved his family to Melaka. He died the following year and was given a Sultan’s burial—the tomb is raised on a plinth under a covered pavilion.
For a modern interpretation of a Melaka Style mosque, visit Al Azim Mosque at Bukit Palah, the contemporary State Mosque. Besides seeing the mosque and the tomb, the other reason to visit Tengkera is to try some delicious Nyonya Cakes at Baba Charlie’s around the corner from the mosque.
These tours are provided by Travelfish partner GetYourGuide.
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