Kellie’s Castle is perched on top of a hill in Batu Gajah, Perak, and situated beside Sungai Raya (Raya River). Built in 1915 by Scottish planter, William Kellie-Smith, it was one of the settings in the 1999 Oscar-nominated film Anna and the King, starring Jodie Foster and Chow Yun-fat. The castle was supposed to feature Malaysia’s first elevator, and to consist of a 6-storey tower, some secret tunnels, a tennis court, and a rooftop courtyard for entertaining. Unfortunately, it was never completed.
Born in 1870 in Scotland, Smith arrived in Malaya in 1890, to join Charles Alma Baker’s survey firm as a civil engineer. He later ventured into rubber plantation and the tin mining industry, which helped him to make a fortune. Smith married his Scottish sweetheart, Agnes, and brought her to Malaya in 1903, and they were blessed with a daughter named Helen and a son, Anthony.
Workers were brought in from India to build the opulent mansion, and bricks and marbles were imported from the country as well. However, things began to take a tragic turn when Smith died of pneumonia in 1926, during a short trip to Lisbon, Portugal. Following his sudden death, the construction of the castle was suspended. Agnes eventually sold the castle to a British company, Harrisons and Crosfield. It was then abandoned and became a historical site years later.
Combining several architecture styles – Moorish, Indo-Saracenic and Roman – the castle boasts impressive arches shaped like a horseshoe, charming imported tiles and bricks, and ceilings adorned with intricate plaster cornice designs. The rooftop is also open to visitors where they can enjoy beautiful views of the surrounding area. Despite ongoing rumours about ghost sightings around the castle, one cannot deny the impressive structural wonders adorned in every corner of the castle.
The castle is open to visitors from 9:00 am – 6:00 pm daily. The entrance fee for foreign tourists is RM10 (adult) and RM8 (child), while Malaysians need to pay RM5 (adult) and RM3 (child) to enter.
Kellie's Castle is located at Jalan Gopeng in Batu Gajah, which is about a two-hour drive from Kuala Lumpur. Jalan Gopeng is 30 minutes’ drive away from Ipoh town.