Picture Credit: Elders of Our Forest
The vast Tun Abdul Razak Heritage park covers a green area of 227 acres in the heart of the city and is home to many of the capital’s most cherished natural and man-made sites. Some of these are steeped in history and offer rich insight into the past, such as the Tugu Negara, or National Monument.
Close by lies the newly developed Taman Tugu Project, a green jewel that covers roughly 66 acres of densely forested grounds that have been drawing nature enthusiasts since 2018. If you’re looking to escape the hustle and bustle of KL and connect with nature, this is the consummate spot.
Memorial For The Fallen
After visiting the Marine Corps War Memorial in Virginia in 1960, Malaysia’s first Prime Minister Tunku Abdul Rahman was inspired to build a monument that would pay tribute to those who had perished fighting for the country. So much so that he personally met Felix de Weldon, the sculptor who created the memorial in Virginia and asked him for a favour to design one for Malaysia.
Officially unveiled on February 8, 1966, the National Monument commemorates those who sacrificed their lives during the two World Wars and the Malayan Emergency (1948-1960) – some 11,000 souls. The tallest freestanding group of bronze sculptures in the world, it depicts seven soldiers immortalised in a triumphant scene, each symbolising leadership, suffering, unity, vigilance, strength, courage and sacrifice.
Striking in its appearance, the middle soldier proudly holds up the Malaysian flag while below lie defeated communist enemies. The Monument sits in a memorial park that occupies 48,562 square metres, which also contains the 15-metre tall Kuala Lumpur Cenotaph (the predecessor to the National Monument), the crescentshaped Central Pavilion and the ASEAN Garden. The latter is a beautifully landscaped plot dotted with sculptures and art installations made by renowned Southeast Asian artists.
To Preserve And Protect
Located up the road from the National Monument is the Taman Tugu Project where you can soak up nature in all its glory, get fit while doing so and educate yourself on the flora and fauna that surround you.
Spearheaded by Khazanah Nasional Berhad (the Malaysian Government’s sovereign wealth fund), this green initiative has seen a complete restoration and transformation of a once-emaciated woodland into an urban forest park for the community.
Picture Credit: Elders of Our Forest
A multi-organisational effort involving bodies that include the Malaysian Nature Society, the Forest Research Institute of Malaysia, DBKL (City Council) and other NGOs, the mission is to conserve the secondary forest found in this area and to re-energise its ecosystem. This will be achieved by planting more than 4,000 trees in addition to the existing 1,000 trees on site that have been identified and tagged for preservation. Imported trees were chosen based on the type of fauna they attract, in hopes that they will increase the biodiversity of the site and promote natural pollination.
Everything has been landscaped and developed with conservation in mind, including the 5km of ‘discoverable’ trails (set to become 7km by the end of 2020) that wind their way through the forest – built so as to not disturb any trees. These well-signed trails contain gentle, undulating slopes and make for an easy-to-moderate hike, ideal for families. Open from 7am to 6.30pm every day, they are free to the public, who are encouraged not to run as this can damage tree roots. You’ll also find hiking poles available at The Forest House (just return them after you’re done), as well as a water dispenser – both free to use. Finally, there is also a fridge packed with energy drinks; simply drop RM3 into the donation box and grab one!
History is present all around as you walk the trails. The site was once home to British officers during the colonial era, and then to Malaysian government officials after independence. You’ll find remnants of their quarters in the form of concrete slabs throughout the grounds. While the trails cover 44 acres of the site, the remaining acreage will house an events space, outdoor activity grounds, a Surau-Jumaat (a place where Muslim Friday prayers can be performed) and a Hindu temple for the current residents of the area.
Taman Tugu also offers a host of largely free activities, some of which take place on a weekly basis including Yoga every Saturday from 10am to 11am, Zumba every Wednesday from 6pm to 7pm and the Taman Tugu FTS Nature Education Programme every Saturday from 4pm to 6pm. There are plenty more periodical events a held in collaboration with various organisations – follow @friendsoftamantugu on Instagram and Facebook to stay up to date.Picture Credit: Elders of Our Forest
WHERE Jalan Tugu off Jalan Parlimen, Kuala Lumpur
Taman Tugu Project
WHERE Taman Tugu Nursery, Persiaran Sultan Salahuddin, Kuala Lumpur
EMAIL ask@tamantuguproject. com