The History of Batu Gajah

source : Phamplet Batu Gajah - Heritage Driving Trail, produce by Kinta Heritage Group Sdn Bhd

Batu Gajah is a town located in the Kinta District of Perak, approximately 20km south of Ipoh. The town lies on the bank of Kinta River, with an estimated 2010 population of 46,000.

The name Batu Gajah means "elephant stone". There are various legends as to origin of the name including one from Malay folklore which refers to two elephants crossing the Kinta River who were turned to stone by a small pixie-like creature.

Batu Gajah started out as one the many small  Malays villages of mukim Sungai Terap, developed under its chief, the Dato' Seri Amar Di-Raja from the early 1800's.

Batu Gajah rose to prominence in 1881 when it was chosen as the river port for the nearby Papan tin mines.

Land was sold to traders who built shop houses near the port along Jalan Sungei, which later came to be known as Batu Gajah old Town. Many of the original shopkeepers were malay and Mandailings.

In 1884, Batu Gajah was chosen as the new capital of the Kinta District. The commercial town continued to grow, and by 1888 Batu Gajah had 127 lots already built on or about to be built on. New Government offices were established in 1892.

The first English school was founded in 1907 by K.Malai Perumal Pillay. In 1910, this became the Government English School and later the Sultan Yussuf School. The sultan Perak, HRH Sultan Azlan Shah, who was born in Batu Gajah, is a noted alumnus.

The land between Old Town and Changkat was further developed and by 1917 the town had been substantially laid out. by 1921, the town's population had increased to 5,000.

In addition to being the capital of the Kinta District, Batu Gajah's location in the rich tin-bearing Kinta Valley made it a natural centre for economic growth. This was further supplemented by vast rubber plantations in the surrounding region.

By the 1930's the continuing expansion of Ipoh had become a strong competitor to Batu Gajah. This was exacerbated during the Japenese Occupation 1941-1945 when Ipoh was made the capital of Preak, in place of Taiping.

While Batu Gajah continues to this day be teh capital of the Kinta District, some of the administrative duties of the Kinta District are now carried out in Ipoh.

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