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"Jennifer in Batu Gajah" Batu Gajah by jenniferchin

Batu Gajah Travel Guide: 17 reviews and 39 photos

So there we were driving along the North South highway when we got lost. We persevered, driving pass small towns that were off the highway. Stopped by the Shell station and asked for directions. Friendly people there guided us and suggested we stopped by Kellie's Castle along the way.

To be perfectly honest, I have heard of this place but never had any inclination of making my way there. However, life has her own way of making you stop at unexpected places.

The story

Kellie's Castle is located in Batu Gajah. It was built by a Scottish planter called William Kellie Smith as a castle of love for his wife. Smith himself was from a small town in Scotland known as Kellas. In 1890, at the age of 20, he arrived in the then undeveloped Malaya.

He made his fortune in tin and rubber and then he returned home to marry his Scottish sweetheart, Agnes, and brought her over to Malaysia in 1903. The following year, the couple was blessed with a daughter named Helen.

For many years after that, Agnes tried to conceive, but to no avail. William Smith desperately wanted a son and heir to take over his empire in the Malay Isles. After many years, Agnes finally gave birth to a son called Anthony in 1915.

The birth of his child was the start of even greater success for William Smith. To celebrate Anthony's birth, William Smith decided to expand on his mansion. Smith started planning for a huge castle which he planned to call Kellas House, after his hometown in Scotland.

Because of his fascination with the Hindu religion and the Indian culture, Smith's plans was for this house to share similar architecture to those of Madras, with all its bricks and tiles imported from India. He even employed a big group of Indian laborers to build his dream house, to keep the Kellas House authentically Indian. The mansion is accessible from the main road through a bridge running across a stream.

But it was not only the cost of importing material and laborers from abroad that made the house so fascinating to fascinate locals and travelers alike. Among the many amazing things about Kellie's Castle include an elevator (unheard of in Malaya in those days, the one built in Kellie's Castle is the first in Malaya) which connects right up to the top floor and the existence of two tunnels that run under the river nearby. One of these tunnels connects to the Hindu temple some distance away to the main house. On the second floor, Smith planned to build an indoor tennis court -- an ambitious project even by today's standards. On the highest floor, there is a rooftop courtyard for parties. This castle was to be the hub for entertaining wealthy colonial planters who have settled in Malaya. His house was so unique that it was even mentioned in the London Financier newspaper on 15 September 1911.

Unfortunately for Smith, tragedies struck soon after the construction of the Kellas House begin. A virulent strain of the "Spanish flu" spread from Europe to Asia soon after World War I ended in Europe, killing many of the workers in Kellas Estate. Another seventy workers constructing Smith's dream castle also became victims of the flu. Smith, who has already spent a fortune on his house, lost a lot of money because of this.

In the end, Kellas House was never completed. William Kellie Smith himself died of pneumonia during a short trip to Portugal in 1926. His heartbroken wife decided to pack up and return home to Scotland selling the estate and Kellie's Castle to a British company called Harrisons and Crosfield.
For some reason or other, Kellas Home, later known as Kellie's Castle or even Kellie's Folly to some, was never completed.

Today, visitors can still "meet" William Kellie Smith and his two children at Kellie's Castle. Sculptures of them are still standing on the exterior wall, but the one of his beloved wife fell off some years ago. For safety reasons however, the tunnels have been sealed off. Apparently, one of Kellie's car is parked somewhere in one of the tunnels! Despite the ravages of time and neglect, the entire estate oozes with romanticism of the colonial era in Malaya.

  • Last visit to Batu Gajah: May 2005
  • Intro Updated May 9, 2016
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Comments (9)

  • muddybok's Profile Photo
    May 16, 2006 at 10:53 PM

    Porn movie? Arhh! They painted the back section of the structure. Not so ruined anymore.

  • matcrazy1's Profile Photo
    Jan 8, 2006 at 5:37 AM

    Kellie's Castle looks very exotic, quite different than Scottish castles :-)

  • Jun 20, 2005 at 10:14 PM

    "bow chika bow wow"....the porn music is playing in the background. ;-p Ohh that Anna and her creative juice spilling out all over your pages.

  • Jun 20, 2005 at 8:49 PM

    the t-log title "jen at kellie's castle" could make for an interesting title for a porn movie. haha. cool photos gal, it looks like an interesting place to visit!

  • airasia's Profile Photo
    Jun 20, 2005 at 6:31 AM are here too. Well just at least you make up to your dream. i guess the girls are gonna missed you when you are away in euro : )

  • Jim_Eliason's Profile Photo
    Jun 18, 2005 at 2:36 AM

    Nice pics Jen!

  • chancay's Profile Photo
    Jun 17, 2005 at 1:59 AM

    confusing title of the t-logue...where are you?

  • mikkie50's Profile Photo
    Jun 13, 2005 at 3:55 AM

    hiii yeah ive been looking for jenns pics at the castle to maybe she is there as a ghost he he he haunting the castle

  • jto's Profile Photo
    May 30, 2005 at 5:25 AM

    I have looked carefully at every pic and I cant see Jen anywhere:(((


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