Nestled in the valley surrounded by green hills is one of our favourite palace in Malaysia called Istana Lama Seri Menanti (Old palace of Seri Menanti). History has made Malaysia unique with its various monarch family and the state of Negeri Sembilan is no exception.
Istana Seri Menanti was built between the year 1902-1908 as a replacement after ‘Istana Pilih’ was burnt to the ground by the British in their pursuit of Yamtuan Antah (the 6th ruler of Negeri Sembilan) during the War of Bukit Putus.
From Kuala Lumpur, our drive took us approximately 2 hours before arriving at the beautiful serene location of Seri Menanti. Once arrived we were told that the palace is closed for conservation and restoration works until the end of 2015.
According to the person in charge, what started as a simple restoration project that should take no longer than 3 months, now the conservation team discovered a rather alarming condition of the 4 central pillars or famously known as ‘tiang seri’. This sturdy looking ‘tiang seri’ was found to be hollow as a result of termites although from the exterior of the pillars no sign of weakness could be seen.
We found out that this four storey palace was originally designed by two malay craftsmen named Kahar and Taib. The final plan detailing was done by a Mr Woodford, Chief Draftsman from the Seremban Public Works Department and in November 1902 the plan was approved by the State Engineer and British Resident.
The palace was made of wood from the ground up with no iron nails used. The whole structure is held together by wooden pegs called pasak.
The four central pillars is a unique characteristics to Istana Lama Seri Menanti. Firstly, the four central pillars represents the four palace chieftains and each pillar is 170 feet in height as a one straight piece. The tiang seri was made of Penak wood that was sourced from Bukit Pergai in Jelebu. We were told that during those days of construction, the tiang seri was transported to Seri Menanti from Jelebu using bullock carts.
Now, with the recent findings of the conditions of the four central pillars, the conservation team are now facing the challenge of getting another set of four, one piece, 170 feet of Penak wood.
Can’t wait for the palace to be open to public so that we could see the interior of the palace and the ‘tiang seri’ up close.