By P Chong Sun. 21 Mar. 2010
Established in 1880, Taiping Lake Gardens is the biggest urban parkland & the earliest public gardens in Malaysia. At 222 acres (62 hectares) ,it is about as big as Taiping Old Town. Within it is housed massive ponds, lakes, and reputably & the best natural zoological gardens in Malaysia.
Taiping, lying north of Kuala Lumpur on the way to Penang, the name means “peace” was the world’s biggest exporter of tin. The Lake Gardens was created out of ex-mining pools. It was not, however, without serious planning & with an eye for the aesthetics. Different sections of the garden offer a new and refreshing scenery. Along Circular Road (Jalan Pekeliling), one find the rain trees that have become almost synonymous with the garden. The many meandering rivers and ponds offer great delight to nature buffs and photography enthusiasts alike.
Within the garden is the Taiping Zoo, reputably one of the best zoological gardens in Malaysia. Its night safari allows visitors to observe the nocturnal animals and birds in their natural habitat. The site, as we know it in our boyhood days, was called Monkey Forest, where naturally as the name suggests, you’d find multitude of monkeys.
Throngs of people flood the Lake Gardens every weekend to jog, exercise or simply to breathe in the air under the foot of Maxwell Hill (Bukit Larut), which with all those colonial rest houses provides a cool & cheap place for school holidays. Transport up & down the Hill is provided by jeep or Land Rover. If you are energetic & adventurous hiking would be most delightful.
The oldest golf course in Malaysia within the vicinity was closed in the year 1995 due to the hazard it presented. The course has since been converted to parks where trees, flowers and playgrounds have replaced the common sight of a golf course. Its club house, the Lake Club, still sits on the low rise overlooking the Lake Gardens.
Of particular interest to most photographers is the huge rain trees that grow by the lake. You will notice the branches that stretch across the road and dipping into the waters of the lake as though quenching their thirst. These gigantic rain trees provide a canopy for both shade & beauty.
Couples getting married can be seen posing here in their wedding clothes against the picturesque background of serenity. It’s a great place for photo shoots.
The following facilities and attractions are available here:
A Japanese Garden
A Zig Zag Bridge
A Pagoda Bridge
A Roller-skating Rink
Open Air Gymnasium
Picnics . . . jogging or plain morning walk or cycling.
A Lotus Pool where you will see the beautiful pinkish colour lotus flowers near the entrance to Taiping Zoo. Streams & small waterfalls provides pools for swimming & picnic in the inner forested areas of the Lake Gardens – a favourite among the young during our school days.
When I was a schoolboy, I used to love to cycle round the Lake Gardens early in the morning. It was most refreshing & exhilarating. The greatest things in life are those that you really cannot put a price on.