Bukit Puteri (the hill of the Princess) or Princess hill, covered an area of 0.688 hectares and is 200 meters in heights, is situated just beside the Istana Maziah and the General Post Office in Kuala Terengganu City Centre(KTCC) and forming a nice scenic background of Kuala Terengganu which overseer the Sungai Terengganu river mouth.
Bukit Puteri is a hill with many legend and history which is well renowned since well before the reign of Sultan Zainal Abidin I (1724-1733), the first sultan of Terengganu till today. There are many stories of on how the hill got its name. Still it very certain that the name of Bukit Puteri have existed long before the 16th century as the earlier written record had recorded that during the rule of Megat Seri Rama who was sent as representative to Datok Bendahara Pahang Saujana from Johor, who died in 1697,the hill was already known as Bukit Puteri.
Another of the many story about the Princess hill, claim that the name Bukit Puteri was name by “Tuk Raja Menteri” a Johor Chieftain noblemen who had lead a group of people from Johore to Terengganu and was the first person to open the area at the foot’s hill of Bukit Puteri as village.
Still the most popularise believe among the many local that the name Bukit Puteri ,was derived from a fact that a real Puteri Bunian (a fairy princess) had live here long ago until the 1920. Bukit Puteri was once the residence for a Fairy Princess . The Fairy Princess does exist as during the 1880’s strange thing had happen in Kuala Terengganu. Silverware and plate show up in Bukit Puteri when the local populace around Bukit Puteri planed to have any festivity and event like wedding or “Kenduri”. This had shock a lot of people during that time. When I was little, my and the other elder who once live in my Kampung told us about the strange happening which they heard from their father and elder and how the princess had left the Bukit Puteri to another hill in Besut District this you can read at The Legend about Bukit Puteri.
From the top of the hill,you can see the entire city of Kuala Terengganu and see the magnificent view of the South China Sea and its many fishermen and boat bustling the riverfront back and fro with their catch.Visitor can find many public amenities that been built here for the public and the many visitor that came here from day to day whether for taking picture of the the entire view of the town or just a leisure walk or just to rest here while breathing the cool air that emitted from the tree and wild flower.The Pricess hill is among the favourite spot in Terengganu. The Bukit Puteri hill is open to the public from 9am to 5pm everyday with entrance fee of Rm1.00.
Kuala Terengganu Defence Fort and the Civil War.
Beside the Fairy which was once the main attraction to Princess hill. The hill have also had many historical attraction as Bukit Puteri was once use as a strong hold and defence fort during the civil wars which accur when Baginda Omar, Sultan Mansur Syah II, and Sultan Muhamad were fighting for the throne of Terengganu.. Before the war , because of the desputed for the throne, a high level meeting was held and it was settle that both Tengku Mansur and Tengku Omar would jointly rule the state from 1831 AD onward. Where the Tengku Mansur became the Sultan of Terengganu , wheres Tengku Omar was appointed as the Yang Di Pertuan Besar of Terengganu.
The division of power and reef between the two powerful men did not end the dissension. Each men insited on selecting their own Pembesar- Pembesar Daerah (Chief of District).The civil war continued, where Tenku Mansur made his stand at Balik Bukit and Tengku Umar at Bukit Puteri.
The Fort was also popular call by the non local as “Kubu Bukit Puteri”in Malay or “Princess Hill Defence Fort”
Kuala Terengganu Defecence Fort which lies on top of the hill was build during the Terengganu civil war that happen in the 1830s. The fort was built by Tengku Omar (In the year 1831 , Baginda Omar once sat on the throne replacing Sultan Daub and is also the then Yang Dipertuan Besar of Terengganu) in his effort to de-throne the then Sultan of Terengganu, Tengku Mansur who was conferred the title of Sultan Mansur Shah II.
The fort was made by brick and cemented by honey,lime and egg white. This is the headquater where baginda Omar plan and launch his strategies with his “Panglima” and “hulubalang” (general and Warior).During the relentless war, the Fort of Bukit Puteri was finally fall to Sultan Mansur II and Baginda Omar was force flee from Kuala Terengganu and regroup.
On 1837,Sultan Mansur II later were replace by Sultan Muhammad. Baginda Omar later launch several campaign to recapture Fort Bukit Puteri, The fort was successfully recaptured on the third attempts and launch his campaign. Where on the year 1839, Baginda Omar defeated Sultan Muhammad and reclaims the throne of Terengganu
Baginda Omar spent most of his early days as the ruler of Terengganu within the fort itself .During the rule of Baginda Omra( 1839 – 1876 ), the state of Terengganu progress rapidly. Sultan Baginda Omar turned the fort into a defensive fortress with many cannon during his reign period. To perform the function of a protective fortress that overseer the river mouth and a “Genta” The bell served as an ‘alarm’ whenever there are enemies were detected.
The “Genta” of Bukit Puteri
At the top of the hill are some historical artefacts can be found here which have a large and significant link to the history of Terengganu. Among them are the hunded year old yellow copper “Genta” a large bell which is on the middle top of Bukit Puteri hill ,which are used since many generation of ruler to warn the people of danger and also use to gather the people during important day now during the time peace . If the bell damaged it will replace with a new ones. The last time it was replace was during reign of Al – Marhum Sultan Zainal Abidin III on the year 1326 Hijrah (1908).
The “Genta”s circumferency is about 228 cm.Its height 78cm.it was made from brass and its weight is about 175 Kg. Arcording to the stories that was first recoreded. The bell was first cast in front of Istana Maziah during a royal ceremony. The mastercraftman who had craft the bell was Wan Ali Bin Wan Awang ,and he was assited by other caftman from Kampung Tanjung and Kampung Paya ,Kula Terengganu district.
The Genta was first used during the reign of Sultan Omar, the ninth Sultan and Ruler of Terengganu and all its dominion ,One the 17th of Sya’aban 1270 (15.May.1853).The bell are well guarded and look after by the “budak-budak raja” and Encik Ali Bin Abdullah is the royal scout that had been in charge bye the kingdom as keeper and guardian of the Genta from the reign of Sultan Omar to the reign of Sultan Zainal Abidin III (19.05.1881 – 25.11.1918) and the Genta was first called “Negara” or Nation.
The “Genta” and the people of Terengganu
The role of the Genta during that time was used as away to alert everyone in the city if they was any major commotion or disaster happened, like fire or if some one was running “amok”or the approaching of enemy attack toward the city. From the record at the Public Library of Terengganu States it is recorded that according to tradition if they were people running “Amok” in the town,the Genta will bell in odd time and without harmony , thus when the inhabitant of the town during that time will close their doors and be prepare. While the member of the aristocrats; the Pembesar Raja and the town people will run to the Istana with armed and ready and if they are fire in town the they will go and help each other.
The bell was once used as a breaking fast reminder during the fasting month , the Hari Raya and Hari Raya Haji. In the fasting month, the bell will be rang at 6 in the afternoon until the time of the breaking fast or sahur time and also at the “imsak” time which mark the beginning of the fasting period to the Muslim in Terengganu .Beside that the bell are also rang at 12 midnight (which was call the “Goncang” meaning Shake) and fallow up with a shot by the cannon from Bukit Puteri.
For Hari Raya and the Raya Haji the bell will be rang with a rhythmic and harmonious sound to mark the bergining of of the prayer and the departure of the ruler to the mosque .But this tradition and custum was cancelled during the reign of Sultan Ismail Nasiruddin Shah and was not used anymore.
The Royal Flagpole of Terengganu.
The Flagpole can be clearly seen on top of the Princess Hill
The “Tiang Bendera or the Flagpole on Bukit Puteri is 18 metres tall and is buried 2 metres deed. The flagpole are used to raise the royal flag ,the king flag (Bendera Raja) was first raise on the 22nd april 1899 or 12 Zulhijjah 1316 Hijrah of the Moslems Calendars ,during the reign of Sultan Zainal Abidin III with full cerenmonious honour accompanied by 16 cannon salutes.While now the current flagpole at the top of Bukit Puteri was raised during the reign of Sultan Sulaiman Badrul Alam Shah.
The Defence Cannon of Kuala Terengganu
The ancient Cannon of Bukit Puteri
Beside the Genta the light house and the flagpole ,Visitor can find a group of historical Meriam Beranak (a family of Cannons) which are used to protect the river mouth of Sungai Terengganu and was once used in the defence of Kuala Terengganu. A light house to guide the boat which come in and out of the river mouth. Old defence wall and a defence fort can be seen on top of Bukit Putri with the cannon diligently guarding the Istana Maziah and the whole town of Kuala Terengganu and the main port. These cannon was also used to repel enemies attack from entering the cities and also from the South China Sea and are also use in many royal and other ceremonial state occacion.
During the old day there were many cannon at the eastcoast from Kuala Terengganu beach staring from Telaga Batin ,Batu Buruk Beach till the Beaches of Chendering covering as during that time The Sultan Mansur Syah I the first price of Sultan Zainal Abidin the first, had planed to built Kerajaan Melayu Johor Raya or Confederated of Malay Johor Kingdom which include Riau,Johor and Terengganu with Sultan Sulaiman Badrul Alam Shah.
But ,the planed was never succeded as many problem broke out including its internal problem and outside of the state. In the end Riau ,Johor and Terengganu was rule and form by its own Sultan and Ruler.
Among the many cannon that survive the Siamese, the british rule whos stole the cannon as souvenirs or gift and also during the time of the of the Japanese occupation of the World War Two between 1941 to 1945,the occupying force had removed the cannon from the fort as a present to the Siam Gorvement .But luckily the war ended before the cannon was shipped .The cannon was later moved back to its original place.
The cannon at Bukit Puteri was named as a way to show the sign of the cannon spirit and its nature.There are “Seri Johor and Seri Bueh better know as Meriam Beranak ; this was named as one of the cannon are a little cannon while beside it lay a large cannon. thus came the named ;Family cannon wheres it is said that the large cannon had given birth to the small cannon. The other are “Laila Majnum and Seri Jamlor”.All these cannon had witness many event and history that supase us .Some of the cannon was forge by the Malay ,while some are from Spain and Portugal and other part of the Malay kingdom.
The Legend about Bukit Puteri
From the elder, The strange happening of Plate and silverware was said to be happen regularly where people meet with mysterious people or lady at the hill. Still the most famous was after a Malay mother who one day want to held a feast for some event ( Sorry I’ll forgot what event). Seeing her plate and bow were very old and not “beautiful”. She went into the town with her boat and bought some plate and ware in the market. But she loss all her dishes and cutlery while crossing the river with her Sampan.
The old mother was sad that she loss her cutlery and was devastated on what to do during the feast. While walking past the foot of Bukit Puteri, she rest there saddened by her ordeal. The Puteri Bunian who live there was touch by her ordeal. When the old women was ready to continue back home she was shock to find silver and porcelain cutlery lay in front of her (as claim by her). This she knew that she(claim) had received help by the Puteri Bunian. During the day of the feast the villager and guest was surprise seeing the gold and silver cutlery and beautiful white porcelain plate that she had use on that day. The local populace were curious on how a simple pheasant can have expensive ware and where did it came from.
After being enquire by the guest and relative on how she obtain the Gold and silver plate and bowl.. She told them of her ordeal at the river and how she the cutlery lay on the foot hill.The villager and guess there agree that she had received help from the Puteri Bunian. Some who were curious of the story, fallow the old lady to the hill where she want to return the cutlery. The villager that fallow her waited and waited,near the hill to see wherther the plate was taken back by the Puteri Bukit Puteri. While waiting they bump to an old lady ,whom they ask what she was doing here. When suddenly one of the villager shouted that the culery had vanished.
During the commotion the old lady was also vanished. After some time they heard rumour about somebody , who also use the same kind of expensive cutlery as the old lady. The man claim that he went to the foot hill and shouted wheather he can borrow the culery for a feast, After waiting some time ,nothing happen that he give up that maybe the old lady had lied. Strangely and astonishingly he claim that while walking down from the hill he found the culery at the foot hill.
Since then on ,when they are any feast or gathering. The villagers will go beside the hill and shout if they can borrow her cutlery. Astonishing where in the next morning they will found the sliver cutlery laying at the foot hill. But not all request was entertain .
After finishing using it the the villager will return it in the next evening. This go on till the 1920’s .Until one day, the fairy princess was vexed and left Bukit Puteri when the local residents that borrowed her cutlery ,started to take granted of her help that some return them un wash or was not return whole or return its on time or replace them if they were damaged. The dishonesty of the borrower coused the fairy pricess to leave the hill.
The princess was said to had migrated to a hill in Besut distict ,Which the local rename the hill as Bukit Puteri as local populace in Besut claim to had meet the fairy there ( as You can see in Besut District in the Tourism map which I made )
There are some critic who claim the the gold and silver and plate was lend by wealthy people who didn’t want to expose them self that they left it near the foot hill. Still whether you want to belive or not that your choice but to the Terengganu many still belive it true as many News paper and magazine had tell or record about the mysterious even and happening at Bukit Puteri during the 1900 till the 1930. The story died out when the World War II struck Malaya.