Guardian Angel at the Forbidden Hill

September 15, 2009 at 2:29 pm | Posted in itchy backside | 2 Comments
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Itchyfingers had an exciting weekend…one which brought me back to my school days, and one which also reminded us to respect other people’s beliefs and most importantly, to respect nature. Wow…so deep…hahah…let me elaborate… :p

It all started cos I wanted to watch Ironman under the stars. The local radio station had two free movie screenings on last Saturday evening at Fort Canning Hill – the first one being Ironman and then followed by Transformers 2. Since I missed Ironman and also have not been to Fort Canning for a long time, I thought it would be fun to go.

But we ended up reaching a bit late at 7pm cos we were distracted at the new malls along the way…No, the show had not started yet as there was some contests and games going on..but the field was already filled with a sea of people! Couldn’t really get a good spot to sit…

Now…just where to find a spot to rest my itchybackside? 8)

We went up the steps where we saw the wall with the rows of embedded tombstones. It reminded me of my (either first or among the first few) visit to Fort Canning Hill during school time. I remembered reading through all the tombstones with my school mates. It was a bit dark that night to read and we were still trying to get a place to watch the movie. But I told myself, “I will be back.”

When we got to the Fort Canning Centre, I must say we had the best unobstructed view there. The only thing was, we would have to stand for the next two hours or so as all the sitting areas with clear views were taken. The show was still not starting yet…since we weren’t that hot on watching Ironman standing, we decided to give it a miss and take a slow walk down the hill.

Best view…hahah…but gotta risk falling over :p

Somehow my friend suggested walking over to take a look at the Keramat, which I remembered was the site of a Malay King’s tomb. Maybe because it is still the Lunar Seventh Ghost Month, that’s why we had the sudden interest…hahah…Both of us couldn’t really remember how it looked like…it was such a long time since we last visited Fort Canning Hill, and especially the Keramat. :p  I think they might have changed the design of the pavilion, which is now styled after the 14th Century Malay roof called a pendopo.

We were greeted by a guy mopping the surrounding of the Keramat. I asked if he is a volunteer and he said he is the caretaker, and told us it was okay to enter the Keramat but we had to take off our shoes (as a form of respect). We didn’t enter since he was still mopping and I didn’t want to take photo with flash out of respect, so we went around reading the signage as I really had no recollection as to who was this Malay King… :p

Ooooo…So this is the Keramat for Iskandar Syah (or Shah), the last of five kings
of Singapore….Wow!! I really don’t remember ever reading this in my History

Then the friendly caretaker told us Iskandar Syah was also known as Parameswara, whom my friend instantly recognised the name…er…but I didn’t…hahah…obviously I was dosing off during the very dry history lessons in school…. 😀 Bad Tisu Girl! :p

The Kings of Singapore

Somehow the caretaker started talking to us about the Keramat. It was never confirmed if this was the exact location where the body was buried, but there were stories (or rumours) that during early excavation, there were ‘things’ happening. We were surprised to know that he used to be an IT manager. He had been visiting the Keramat for many years but it was only three years ago that he had a certain dream that made him decide to come and look after the Keramat full time. Some kind of calling, I supposed. He shared with us some interesting titbits about the architecture of the pendopo, like the motifs that look like mask and crown, and the tiger teeth. The light was dim for us to fully appreciate the design though. He also mentioned about the 20 pillars supporting the structure – they were supposed to be the 20 (supernatural) guards guarding the tomb. According to him, when he was there, he saw many people came trying to get favours, and he vividly remembered many years ago before he became the caretaker, three men came to ask for 4D lucky numbers. When they came back again after striking it rich, one of them was paralysed, and his thought was that he was being punished for asking for short cuts in life. There were also some stories he heard from drunkards or vagabonds who slept at the Keramat at night that they saw a big creature dragging them out of the sacred site. For a moment I thought to myself, if not for the fact that my friend was with me and there was also a tourist who came to visit, I might have gone home thinking all these was my imagination, and that there was no such guy at the Keramat!! After all it was the Ghost Month! :p!

Well, whether we believed what he said is true or not, I guess we have to respect other people’s beliefs. After all, there are so many things in this world that are still unexplained. And to give up one’s career and devote his time to take care of a site (for free!) which he truly believed in is something not many people would be willing to do. But he strongly felt that it was something he had to do, and he also enjoyed talking to visitors and tourists and bringing them around the park. He also told us about a giant Fig tree that looked like a woman hugging another tree, and there were also others with snake-like roots around. It was too dark to see anything but I was already getting curious…I had decided to come back the next day to take a look, and also to look at the other part of Fort Canning Hill. We did catch about 20 minutes of Ironman in the end…hahah..

The next day when we went back to the Keramat, someone was already there doing his prayers. Not wanting to disturb him, I could only take a photo from outside…

Fresh flowers were offered. I forgot to check out the design motifs he was
telling us the previous night  😦

We saw the caretaker again. (Yeah…so confirmed I wasn’t dreaming last night… :p) So I asked him about the Fig tree…Actually it was visible from where we were standing, just that to see the woman’s feature we had to go down a small slope to get to see it…

When we reached there, all I could say was that, you really need to have a lot of imagination to see the ‘woman’…

I had expected to see a woman’s face or the whole body, cos that was what
I thought the caretaker meant…instead, what he showed me was what
looked like a woman’s lower body with legs slightly opened…er…can you
see that? This fig tree is slowly engulfing another tree, which he said is a
species of the mango family

It reminded me of the Bodhi Tree (Ficus Religiosa) at the Jin Long Si Temple 金龙寺 that believers claimed to see the Guanyin’s palm and other figures.

Believers sweared that they see the Guanyin’s palm…I remembered it looked
more obvious on the photo on display…

The caretaker also showed me the interesting snake-like roots that were only discovered after NPark cleared the overgrown vegetation there.

Hmm…this I gotta admit I have never seen Yam plants’ roots growing above
ground like this….

Finally, he showed me the ‘face’ of a unknown creature on another tree…

Wow! This one I seriously cannot make out any facial feature….can you?
It might need to be a certain time of the day with the correct lighting to have
a better view…

Again, it reminded me of the case of the Monkey Tree at Jurong that caused a big havoc years ago, which experts explained was the result of callusing, a natural reaction in which the tree grows new bark over injured areas. I am not sure about this tree, cos I am no expert in trees. But I didn’t tell him my thoughts on this, as everyone is entitled to believe in what they choose to believe in.

We walked around the park for a while before saying good-bye as my friend had to go off for a family gathering. But I managed to spend a little time looking at the tombstones again…and also some interesting finds around the park, which Itchyfingers shall write about in the next post. 8)

Also see related Posts:
> Carving a Living – Vanishing Trades
Paper Merchants
Paper Goodies
> Tomb Raiding the Tree-strangled Temple – Angkor Wat, Siem Reap, Cambodia Trip #4
Money No Enough Too
> Death Notes



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  1. Interestingly, when i visited the Keramat, they were also mopping the place. Hmm but I don’t remember any of the guy in particular being chatty enough to talk to visitors “p

    Oh and I haven re-visit the Fort Canning either… still haven tried the 19th century walk. Eh you din go and see the Congkak game in the visitor centre “p

    • Haha…that’s why I said i would think I was dreaming if not for the fact that my friend was with me….hahah….ghost month… 😀 Haven’t finished walking the whole place…anyway it goes all the way to High st and river valley side…so to finish it will take some time…hahah…

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