The Masjid Tengku Tengah Zaharah (Tengku Tengah Zaharah Mosque) is also known as the "The Floating Mosque of the East" due to its unique design that creates an illusion of itself as floating on water. Named after one of the matriach in the Terengganu royal house, the mosque was designed by YM Raja Bahrin, a well known Malaysian architect who himself come from the Terengganu royal house. The mosque is undoubtfully the most recogniseable landmark for Kuala Terengganu or even the state of Terengganu itself.
It is located in the outskirts of Kuala Terengganu, on a lagoon by the mouth of Sungai Ibai that cleverly gives an illusion that it is floating on the water - the first ever of its kind in Malaysia before similar concept was adopted by Masjid Putra in Putrajaya. At night, the floating affect of the mosque looks even more interesting as the mosque will be brightly lighted and you can see its reflection on the water.
Just like any other mosques, the mosque and its surrounding area is open to all. However, as usual proper attires are required especially if you plan to have a look inside the mosque - dress conservatively, no shorts, mini skirts or sleeveless. Avoid also visit during prayer times especially on Friday afternoons from noon till 3.00pm.
Floating Mosque - it is called the floating mosque because it gives an illusion that its floating. Actually, its not! The mosque is sorrounded by water but it is elevated with the used of the stilts.
I wasnt able to go inside and see the mosque up close but from a far you can definitely tell its magnificent structure.
Follow the local folks - take a ride on the passenger boat crossing the Terengganu river to experince life in Kuala Terengganu.
You can chose to go to Pulau Duyung Besar to see the traditional boat-making industry. Alternatively, you can also take the boat ride accross the river to go to Seberang Takir, a throbbing fishing village. Here, you can see the fishermen coming in with their catch in the early afternoons or late evenings. Seberang Takir also offers an interesting view of Kuala Terengganu's skyline and the South China Sea. You can also chose to a boat or ferry ride to one of the many beautiful islands off the coast of Kuala Terengganu for day trip or over nite stay.
Forming a nice backdrop for Kuala Terengganu is Bukit Puteri (Princess Hill), a 174 years old hill located at the centre of the town. It covers an area of about 658 hectares and the height is about 200 meters from the sea level. The name Bukit Puteri is said to have originated from its pioneer residence - a Puteri Bunian - who has since left the hill. The hill was later opened by a chieftain from Johor named Tuk Raja Menteri who came to Terengganu to install the first Sultan of Terengganu, Sultan Zainal Abidin I; in 1831.
On top of the hills are a few historical artifacts that have significant link to the history of Terengganu, some of which are still in used now. Among the historical artifacts that can be found here a an old fort, a "genta" (big bell), cannons, a flag pole, a light house, old graves and a defence wall. A small cave known as Gua Puteri can also be found here. From the top of the hill, you can have a nice bird eye view of the entire Kuala Terengganu town. Nowadays, Bukit Puteri is used as a firing range for cannon when royal ceremonies are held.
Bukit Puteri is open to visitors from 9am to 5pm everyday with minimal entrance fee of RM1.00. It is best to visit the hill early in the morning or late afternoon when temperature is not so hot. Plus, you will get to see the fishermen boats plying along Sungai Terengganu during this time.
The Kubu Bukit Puteri (Bukit Puteri Fort) lies on top of hill. It is a small fort that was build during civil war in Terengganu in 1830s. The fort was built by Tengku Omar (the then Yang Dipertuan Besar of Terengganu) in his effort to de-throne the then Sultan of Terengganu, Tengku Mansur who was conferred the title of Sultan Mansur Shah II. It is said that the fort was build from bricks and cemented with honey, lime and egg white.
Despite beinmg protected by the fort, Bukit Puteri finaly fall to Tengku Mansur instead and Tengku Omar was forced to flee to Besut.. In 1839, Tengku Omar successfully recaptured the fort after 3 attempts and subsequently de-throne Tengku Mansur. Upon conquering the fort, Tengku Omar spent most of his his early days as the ruler of Terengganu within the fort itself, discussing war strategies with his generals on a raised platform called a 'singgahsana' as seen still at the fort.
As a coastall town, the waterfront of Kuala Terenggau span across almost the entire of the town. Most of the town's activities and main places are also located along the waterfront area, just like in the old days when KT was merely a fishermen village. Kuala Terengganu's main jetties, central market (Pasar Payang), Chinatown, inter state bus station and public park (Taman Shahbandar) are among the town's main places that are located in the waterfront area, making the area full of activities with hustle and bustle during the day.
If you are here early in the morning, you can view fleets of fishing boats passing along the waterfront area leaving for the sea. While in the late afternoon you can see the same fleet of fishing boats returning back home. City folks may find it's really interesting looking at the boats and hearing the sound of the boats' engine moving slowly along the waterfront area - truely different from the fast pace of live in the city. However, this may changed soon as land reclaimation works are currently on going in some part of the waterfront area for its proposed re-development.
Istana Maziah (Maziah Palace) is located at the foot of Bukit Puteri in the heart of KT town. It was build in 1897 during the reign of Sultan Zainal Abidin II to replace the earlier palace - Istana Hijau (Green Palace) - which was destroyed by fire. Architecturally, this brown color 2 storeys building is a blend of modern and traditional architecture with its tall shuttered windows that resembles a French chateau.
The palace is a symbol for the Terengganu State Sultanate and mainly used today as the venue for offical functions, such as royal birthdays, weddings, conferment of titles and receptions for local and foreign dignitaries. The palace will also be normally opened to the public during the Hari Raya festival, when the Sultan will have an audinece with the peoples of Terengganu.
Kuala Terengganu's chinese settlement - Kampung Cina or Chinatown - is said to be one of the well preserved Chinatown in the world. In fact, it is included Unesco's heritage listing.
The Chinatown is made up of rows of pre-war chinese shophouses that are still remain intact and are still maintained by the original owners. These buildings are believed to be the residence for the Chinese from China mainland who arrived in Peninsular Malaysia in the 19th century. Most of the houses are 2 stories, with brick or concrete structure and wooden flooring in the second storey. Some still keep its wood carving on the windows and huge heavy wooden front door whereas some were turned into the renewed modern concrete building. Interestingly, the back of some of the shophouses extends out onto the river - an interesting contrast to the street sceene at the front portion of the shophouses.
There is also a Chinese Temple painted in red colour standing at the end of the Chinatown. The local residences believe that ‘Goddess’ of the temple has given them very accurate guidance and ‘protection’ during the hard time, therefore there is always worshipers redeem their vow to the God.
Kuala Terangganu Museum showcases the traditional living of the people in Malaysia. They have exhibits, dioramas and several artifacts that would give you an idea on how the people in the East Coast lived date back centuries ago.
It is relatively big with 3 floors and a spacious parking space and complex.
The facade of the museum is a little bit run down and needs renovation but inside part of it is well maintained.
Turtle Museum - This museum needs renovation and fund from the local government. What's inside of it are very informative and useful to whoever will drop by to see the museum.
Most of the exhibits that you can find here are dioramas and photos of the turltle...From the time they mate to laying of eggs .
Although selling and eating turtle eggs are prohibited by the local government for the people to do so....still you can find in the local markets that they still sell fresh and boiled turtle eggs.
Pulau Duyung is located about 20 minutes drive from the hotel were we stayed (Seri Malaysia). Here you can see the locals making huge wooden boats.
As per the workers, they do not use nails to put the wood pieces together but rather they also use woods so the boat won't rust.
One boat costs millions of dollars and so most of the boats that t hey make are either owned by rich businessmen from different countries.
Laman Maziah (Maziah's Compound) is a small park outside the perimeter fencing of Istana Maziah. Unlike the usual forbidden palace garden in the old days, Laman Maziah is open to all for leisurely walk around the palace compound.
Within the park, apart from the usual trees and plants, there is also a small pavilion and a Tepak Sirih monument. As tepak sirih (a small tray used to keep betel nut leaves and its condiments) is a common welcoming symbol in Malay culture, the monument is no doubt a sign of welcome to all visitors of the palace's park.
Pasar Besar Kedai Payang or Pasar Payang in short (also known as Central Market) is the lifeline of KT. Located by the Terengganu River, it is one of the most popular tourist spots in KT, not only for shopping but also to have a taste of life in KT. It is also close to the Shabandar jetty, making it ideal for a short stop en route to the islands off the coast.
The Pasar Payang is housed in 2 storeys building consisting of a wet market and a shopping arcade, it offers visitors a variety of items to purchase - from grocery items such as such fresh fruits, vegetables, fish, "keropok lekor" etc to traditional products and souveniers like batik, brassware, brocade and songket.
Visitors to this market will have a delightful experience shopping in local fares at reasonable prices.
At 200 meter above sea level, Bukit Puteri is the highest point in Kuala Terengganu. Hence, visitors standing on top of Bukit Puteri can witness the magnificent view of the areas surrounding it.
At one side of the hill is the view of Sungai Terengganu - where you can see fishing boats coming back home after a hard day in the late afternoon. To the other side of the hill is a panoramic view of Kuala Terengganu town, where the town's tallest building (Wisma Darul Iman) and Masjid Zainal Abidin can be identified prominently.
Standing guard on top of Bukit Puteri are a few set of canons that the local folks referred to as "Meriam Beranak" (literally, canons that give birth). According to the story, there were many cannons on Bukit Puteri in it early days. The cannons were believed to be originated from as far as Spain, Portugal and the Malay States and were given specific names such as Seri Jamlor, Seri Buih, Seri Johor and Laila Majnun.
The cannons were purposely built in a set of two in different sizes - big and small - hence the name "Meriam Beranak". It is also said that every evening, the canons were "feed" with bubles from the ocean to maintain their magical power. However, most of the cannons were taken to Siam (Thailand) during the period when they ruled Terengganu in 1843-1845 and were never returned back, leaving only few sets of the canons that still remain on Bukit Puteri until today .