Malaysia’s administrative fulcrum a feast for the eye

Masjid Putra (on the left) and Istana Darhul Ehsan in front of the Seri Wawasan Bridge
Masjid Putra (on the left) and Istana Darhul Ehsan in front of the Seri Wawasan Bridge

MOST tourists to Malaysia flying in via LCCT and speeding towards Kuala Lumpur aboard the KLIA Transit train might pause to take notice of the short stop at Putrajaya Station, but probably not. After all, they’ll either be tired after a long flight or looking forward to seeing the famous Petronas Twin Towers in what is the world’s 48th largest city.

What they may not know is that Putrajaya is a glittering example of Malaysia’s quiet but steely resolve to nurture the seeds of economic, cultural and political development in a highly competitive world. And the result is both impressive… and jaw-droppingly scenic!

Putrajaya is Malaysia’s administrative fulcrum. It is a modern, planned city, much like Canberra in Australia or even Washington DC in the United States. The seat of government moved from Kuala Lumpur to Putrajaya in 1999. The new city is part of the Multimedia Super Corridor, which also includes Cyberjaya, and is an integral part of Malaysia’s goal to achieve Vision 2020 and the transformation of the country into a competitive industrialised nation.

Politics and economics aside, Putrajaya is a feast for the eye. From the Taman Botani (Botanic Gardens) in the north to the Putrajaya International Convention Centre in the south, this sparkling city offers a comfortable blend of modern architecture, natural assets, cultural pride and religious devotion.

The Prime Minister's office is in Perdana Putra (on the right) with Masjid Putra's minaret in the centre and Seri Wawasan Bridge on the left
The Prime Minister’s office is in Perdana Putra (on the right) with Masjid Putra’s minaret in the centre and Seri Wawasan Bridge on the left

How to get there?

Arrive from Kuala Lumpur International Airport (KLIA), the Low Cost Carrier Terminal (LCCT) or Kuala Lumpur by taxi or light rail. Public buses are available from Kuala Lumpur.

Where to stay?

The Putrajaya Shangri-La is nestled inside a ring road to the north-east of Tasik Putrajaya, a 650-hectare artificial lake and wetland that binds the city’s major elements together. It is slightly elevated above the green lung of the beautifully landscaped Putra Perdana Park. Some rooms offer stunning vistas towards the city. The pool offers similarly awesome views and watching the sun set over the lake with a cocktail in hand… Super.

The Shangri-La Hotel pool offers superb views towards Putrajaya City
The Shangri-La Hotel pool offers superb views towards Putrajaya City

What to see?

Putra Perdana Park is a 70-hectare public space filled with trees, gardens and water fountains. This is one of the best vantage points from where to view the city. The landmark attraction is Mercu Tanda, a time capsule structure marking the beginning of Putrajaya.

Taman Botani, at 93-hectares, is the largest botanic garden in Malaysia. It offers scenic walking and cycling paths interspersed among 700 species of flowering plants. The garden is divided into five themes: the Lakeside (inclusive of a café and restaurant), Sun Garden (with its Orchid Path), Floral Gardens (boasting international collections and a Hibiscus Walk), Palm Hill and the Explorer’s Trail (with a canopy bridge).

The Moroccan Pavilion is actually situated in the Botanic Gardens and visually introduces the visitor to the Moroccan tradition of moving from public to semi-public to private spaces. The Pavilion is home to art and crafts from the four Imperial Moroccan cities of Fez, Meknes, Rabat and Marrakech.

The intricately carved Moroccan Pavilion in the Botanic Garden
The intricately carved Moroccan Pavilion in the Botanic Garden

Perdana Putra symbolises the power and grace of the emerging industrial state. This is the office of the Prime Minister, marked by the distinctive topped dome.

Dataran Perdana is a grandiose public space where the Prime Minister welcomes visiting Heads of States and Heads of Governments. This will usually coincide with the playing of the national anthems and the inspection of a Guard of Honour.

Masjid Putra is a stunning lakeside mosque cloaked in rose-tinted granite. The basement wall is based on the King Hassan Mosque in Casablanca, Morocco, while the minaret resembles the Sheikh Omar Mosque in Baghdad. The Mosque can accommodate up to 15,000 worshippers.

Tasik Putrajaya is a welcome and not-so-subtle nod to Sir Ebenezer Howard’s garden city movement, linking the city’s greenbelt and bringing balance to the competing interests of residential and industrial areas. The peaceful lake offers a variety of cruises and water sports such as kayaking.

Istana Darhul Ehsan, an impressive grey mansion on the western shore of Tasik Putrajaya, is one of the Sultan of Selangor’s royal residences. The palace is a token of the Malaysian State’s appreciation to the Sultan for ceding Putrajaya to the federal government.

Seri Wawasan is a cable-stayed bridge that spans the lake like a crown of jewels, or a wind-filled sail racing into the future. At night, the bridge is illuminated in colourful hues transforming any stroll along the waterfront into a magical experience.

The Seri Wawasan Bridge resembles a billowing sail
The Seri Wawasan Bridge resembles a billowing sail

Persiaran Perdana is the main concourse that stretches in a straight line from Perdana Putra in the north towards the Putrajaya International Convention Centre in the south. Striking modern buildings, home to various government departments and agencies, proudly line the road.

The Putrajaya International Convention Centre is another notable architectural marvel, offering a range of services and facilities to guests. It consists of five levels and in 2012 won the Travel Award for the best business destination congress and convention centre in Asia.

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