A secret tunnel was recently discovered in Bukit Nanas (which was previously called Bukit Gombak), a.k.a. the place sorta where Changkat is and is believed to have been used for wartime purposes. We got curious and decided to investigate further.
(We mean look into the history of the tunnel, not like Famous Five go into tunnel to investigate la)
You probably didn’t know this, but many wars have been fought in Changkat Bukit Bintang. From ongoing drunken skirmishes to male warriors proving their manliness in the many taverns lining the street, Changkat is not a place for the faint of heart.
With all the conflict and general rowdiness in the area wouldn’t it be nice to have a secret tunnel that you could use to escape the area in case poop hits the fan? Well, as it turns out, someone built this tunnel when poop hit the fan in the worst possible way 147 years ago – war!
There was a war in Changkat 147 years ago??
Yes, and it isn’t a small war either. This was known as the Klang War or the Selangor Civil War which lasted from 1868 to 1871. The story is kinda long and contains more twists than a… um… pack of Twisties, so here’s a very brief synopsis:
Raja Mahadi and his Mandahiling supporters fight the combined forces of Sultan Abdul Samad and the British. Yap Ah Loy was expected to side with Raja Mahadi but joined Sultan Abdul Samad instead. The battle takes place in Bukit Gombak/Nanas where Raja Mahadi’s forces hold out in a fort built by the Mandahilings. The fort surprisingly can tahan against cannonballs and continuous attacks, but suffered from one major flaw – it wasn’t edible. Due to starvation, Raja Mahadi’s forces declared defeat, and Raja Mahadi runs off to Johor. Yap Ah Loy and Sultan Abdul Samad get roads and things named after them.
[Fun Fact] This war also caused Bukit Gombak’s name to be changed to Bukit Nanas because the Mandahiling covered the terrain with pineapple plants to stop soldiers from advancing (many soldiers were barefoot) and to stop spells cast by the enemy.
What did they use the tunnel for?
En. Fared of the Malaysian Historical Society tells us that there may have been more than one tunnel built as Raja Mahadi was being attacked from three sides, and the tunnel(s) would have been used to sneak in supplies from the outside as well as to escape.
The tunnel as it is now is only about 10 metres long… the rest of it might have either collapsed, been destroyed due to development in the area, or it was never completed in the first place; but En. Fared says that the builders would “memang have built it towards the sungai” as was common practice for the time.
How did they even FIND the tunnel? Can I go see it?
According to the report in Star Metro (whom we believe broke the story), the tunnel was found by accident six months ago when contractors were sent to fix a collapsed slope. This finding was kept secret until January 18th.
If you’re thinking of heading over there, we suggest you wait a few days since you can’t enter it now. When we asked if we could visit the site, En. Fared said that, to his knowledge, it wasn’t open to the public but referred us to the Bukit Nanas Forest Reserve Department for more info. When we called, En. Rosli of the Forest Reserve says that the tunnel will be open as a tourist attraction following a press conference with KL Mayor (Datuk Bandar) Datuk Ahmad Phesal Talib soon.
BUT, if you do wanna go check out the place regardless, it’s in the former Metropark parking lot where the old Wisma Denmark is, along Jalan Ampang and across from the Dang Wangi LRT station. You can also search for “Parking lot Wisma Denmark” on Google maps. We really don’t know why that particular location is listed on Google maps 😕
Will they be looking for more tunnels?
En. Fared tells us that there are currently no plans to to look for more tunnels in the area as it will involve too many parties such as DBKL, the Bukit Nanas Forest Reserve, and the archeological society. It also doesn’t help that there are no indications that there are more tunnels in the first place, so they may have already been lost to development of the area.
However, we do feel the need to praise the contractor for informing the authorities of the find rather than, oh, filling it up or something. It’s rather sad that many of our historical sites have been demolished by developers either on purpose or by accident, such as the destruction of 8th century temples in Kedah.
So what do you think? Should we preserve history over development, or are these just old relics of the past that shouldn’t stand in the way of progress?