Exploring Traditional and Modern Architectural Gems of Putrajaya4 January, 2010
Putrajaya, a planned city located just south of Kuala Lumpur, is the new federal administrative centre of Malaysia. Several Government offices have re-located there to gain relief from the overcrowding and congestion of Kuala Lumpur, which is Malaysia’s largest city. However, Kuala Lumpur still serves as Malaysia’s national and legislative capital for now. Putrajaya is a Federal Territory just like the city of Kuala Lumpur and the island of Labuan.
The city is named after the first Malaysian Prime Minister, Tunku Abdul Rahman Putra. In Bahasa Melayu, the Sanskrit-derived words “Putra” means prince while “Jaya” means excellent or success.
The city is built on a scale completely disproportionate to its current population, with a number of bridges spanning an artificial lake, Tasik Putrajaya (Putrajaya Lake).
There are altogether seven bridges in Putrajaya that span across the lake. One of the most prominent ones is the 435-metre Putra Bridge which is modelled after the 17th-century Khaju Bridge in the Iranian town of Ishafan. It sports decorated arches and pavilions and has three levels – for vehicles, pedestrains and future monorail tracks – with its main pillars housing fine-dining restaurants.
There are also bridges with a more modern architectural style such as the Seri Wawasan Bridge. This futuristic cable-stayed bridge, which has a sail ship appearance, connects Precinct 2 on the Core Island to the residential area of Precinct 8.
Located west of Dataran Putra is the stunning Masjid Putra or Putra Mosque. It reflects a 16th- to 18th-century Persian Islamic architectural style. The building is embellished with rose-tinted granite mosaic, and the main entrance is fashioned after the gates of public buildings in Persia. It is open daily 9am to 5pm but note that there is no entry during prayer times. Three-quarters of the mosque extends into the lake, so from certain angles (such as the picture below), the mosque looks like it’s floating on the waters of Tasik Putrajaya.
Another must-see architecture in Putrajaya is the impressive Perdana Putra, the Prime Minister’s Office Complex, with its lofty onion-shaped and glazed-mosaic main dome. The Perdana Putra Building is open to the public from Mondays to Fridays: 8.00 am to 12.30 pm, 2.00 pm to 4.30 pm and on Saturdays from 8.00 am to 12.30 pm. It is closed to the public on Sundays, public holidays and every 1st and 3rd Saturday of the month.
The sheer scale and variety of Putrajaya’s architecture is really a sight to behold, ranging from the traditional Arabic styles such as that of the Putra Mosque to very modern-looking government buildings (see picture below).
One of the best ways to see Putrajaya is via a cruise on the Putrajaya Lake. At the start of the Putra Bridge is the jetty for Cruise Tasik Putrajaya, which offers 1.5 to 2-hour cruises on the lake. Their fleet of perahus which are named “Dondang Sayang” offer a romantic and nostalgic way to see Putrajaya. The open-air gondola-like perahus come in 2 traditional designs – the Payang and Kolek, both seating four or six persons. The perahu is operated by a single boatman and the pleasant ride is a accompanied with Dondang saying music on board.
As you cruise around the lake, keep a lookout for another majestic Putrajaya monument – the 68-metre tall Millenium Monument. It is uniquely shaped like an obelisk with etchings denoting important periods and milestones in the nation’s history. At night, the monument serves as a beacon with strong light projected at 360 degrees and sweeping lights visible from various locations in Putrajaya.
Besides architectural marvels, Putrajaya is also well-known for hosting many international events and festivals such as the Hot Air Balloon festival, F1 Powerboat Championships and Dragon Boat Festivals. Plan your visits to coincide with these events and you would be able to see another side of Putrajaya beyond the mega-structures.