About Kampong Gelam

Kampong Gelam (c.1830 Campong Gelam) estate covers 56 ac of land set aside for Sultan Hussein Mohamed Shah and 600 family members in 1823, a few years after the Sultan and Temenggong Abdu'r Rahman signed a treaty with Sir Stamford Raffles and the British East India Company in 1819. The road names in the area, ­­­such as Bussorah, Muscat and Kandahar streets ­­­– named after places in the Muslim world ­– were approved by the Municipal Commissioners at an Ordinary Meeting held on 15 April 1910. In Malay, the word Kampong means "village or settlement", while Gelam is the name of a particular tree, which grew in abundance in the area in early Singapore. 


Photo source: "Kampong Glam - Spirit of a Community"

Throughout the nineteenth century, Kampong Gelam was known as a district with a strong Malay-Arab influence as the main place for trade of traditional Arab-Muslim food and merchandise. In the 1822 Town Plan drawn by Sir Stamford Raffles, Kampong Gelam was officially allocated to the Malays, Bugis and Arabs. 


Photo source: "Kampong Glam - Spirit of a Community"

In 1840, the Istana Kampong Gelam was built by Sultan Hussein's eldest son, Tengku Ali at Sultan Gate. He was later recognised as the Sultan of Singapore by the British in 1855. The Istana Kampong Gelam, along with Bendara House (Gudung Kuning) is now the Malay Heritage Centre - a vital heritage institution for the Malay community in Singapore.

On 7 July 1989, Kampong Glam was gazetted a conservation area, and it is preserved as a historic part of town. 

What we see today in Kampong Gelam is a variety of rich heritage passed down from generation to generation. Some of these long enduring traditions are in the form of monuments, trades, cultures and practices. Conservation of places of worship, old school, old dwellings, some of which are still in their original form while others have been refurbished. These rich remains give a hint of the architecture and life style of the early days. Such diverse rich heritage can only come about through a sense of tolerance, sharing and bonding, all encapsulated in the Kampong Gelam spirit.


Photo source: "Kampong Glam - Spirit of a Community"

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