Ahoy there! ship in the distance
Legend has it that the early kings of 'Singa-pura' (Lion- City) lived and was buried on 'Bukit Larangan', the ancient name of Fort Canning Hill in the 13th century. In Malay, it meant 'Forbidden Hill', ostensibly due to it being the hallowed (haunted) grounds of royalty then. It was sacked and burned down in the early 17th century and remained abandoned for several centuries, until the arrival of the British East India Company (EIC) and Sir Stamford Raffles. It was duly explored by the officers of the EIC, and hence debunk the myths of ghostly hauntings by the early settlers around the hill.
Raffles thought it was a great vantage point near to the river port and administrative town, and with a vista covering Chinatown over the South and a great look-out to the sea for outgoing and incoming trading vessels calling to port (where there exist a Flagstaff and Light house for maritime communications). He also built his residence up there in his brief time on the island. In 1859, due to growing need for securing the increasingly busy and important city of Singapore, the hill was fortified and become an important military post. It remained so all the way through the 2nd World War, when it was used as an Allied central command facility in the secretive bunker built into the hill (known as the 'Battle Box' now a war museum). The final decision to surrender to the Japanese Imperial army was made right there. After Singapore gained limited self-rule and then independence post 1959, the military barracks was handed over to the Singapore Armed Forces to run. The fort is now largely for non-military use.
The 18-hectares park can be a strenuous work out, so take it in the early morning and later in the afternoon. You can go on walks that highlights the ancient history of Singapore from the 13th century when the old kings of Singapura ruled from the top of the hill. Chance upon the ancient archaeological digs exhibition, Keramat of king Iskandar Shah. Fast forward to the 19th century when colonial Singapore saw the building of the military fort for the southward defense of the island. The colonial brick buildings like Fort Canning Centre and Hotel Fort Canning were military barracks during the war. You might come across some cannons facing out to sea. At the Raffles Terrace, Raffles House, the Flagstaff and Lighthouse are remnants of a time the hill played a part in the maritime history of Singapore.
You might prefer just to enjoy the lure of nature, the fresh air and the serenity of the park in the city. Listen out for the calls of king fishers and woodpeckers. There is also an old Christian Cemetery where the early pioneers both European and Asian Christians and Catholic were buried. Right up the slope is the location of the Fort Canning Centre.
*The Battle Box is open after extensive retrofitting. Discover the secret bunker of WW2 and the final moments of Fortress Singapore's capitulation and surrender.
RLC recommends :
A definite must visit and highly recommended for its pure historical value and significance.
Tour the Battle Box.
Pop over to the National Museum, down from level 3 of the new wing to get to the ground level to buy tickets for the museum. 5-10 minutes walk down Fort Canning Rise to the Philatelic Museum and Peranakan Museum.
Nearby attractions include Singapore River, Clarke Quay and Chinatown.
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location and getting there (fort canning)
NEAREST TRAIN STATION
Dhoby Ghaut MRT (CC1/NE6/NS24)
City Hall MRT (EW13/NS25)
Clarke Quay MRT (Singapore River)
Accessible by several entrances from Canning Rise, Fort Canning Road, Clemenceau Ave, River Valley Road, Hill Street and Coleman Street.
gallery (fort canning)