To the average tourist, Kampar is an unknown sleepy hollow 40 km south of Ipoh, but to World War II veterans, the town was the scene of a ferocious battle between British and Indian troops from the 11th Indian Infantry Division and the Japanese 5th Division.
From 30 December, 1941 to 2 January, 1942, the British and Indian forces, numbering only 1,300 men, inflicted heavy casualties on an invading force of more than 6,000, before retreating. This battle was a Pyrrhic victory for the Japanese Imperial Army. Today, a memorial stands at Green Ridge, which, sadly, is not sign-posted.
What to do in Kampar?
Do a walkabout to see old buildings
Exploring Kampar does not require any map as it has only two main roads. With gentrification sitting on a back-burner, the town still retains its Old World charm. Its most noted heritage building is the Anglo-Chinese School which was founded in 1903 by Reverend W.E Horley.
Located on Jalan Kuala Dipang, the present structure was built in 1919. During the Japanese Occupation, it was turned into a Kempetai detention centre. The two-storey structure features a lower veranda that is supported by semi-circular arches. Balustrades run along the entire length of the first-storey veranda.
Several other pre-war buildings located along the same road showcase a myriad of architectural styles:
Constructed in 1929, Persatuan Nam Phun Soon exhibits a hybrid of Chinese and Art Deco influences. A low pediment on the ridge of its flat roof is embellished with horizontal pilasters.
The Hokkien Kong Hoey harks back to 1937, and typifies Art Deco style with an emphasis on vertical and horizontal elements. The frieze of its roof is adorned with horizontal motifs.
The former Mayban Finance Berhad exhibits Georgian designs. Sadly, it now stands abandoned.
Another eye-catching structure is the Wisma Tamil Methodist with its Baroque and Palladian motifs and friezes above window panels. Two pediments of a pans design hem a central semi-circular pediment. The church was founded in 1952 and services are in Tamil and English.
At Jalan Iskandar stands the quaint Sacred Heart Church at Jalan Iskandar. Established in 1908, the church’s present structure was constructed in 1937. Two pediments of a pans design hem a central semi-circular pediment. The church was founded in 1952 and services are in Tamil and English.
Visit the lakeside park and Muhibbah Garden
Kampar is also the site of the TAR University. Its campus stands beside a scenic lake where verdant hills form a backdrop. Bursting with beautiful flowers, a park on the bank of the lake becomes a focal point for morning exercises and evening strolls among the town folks.
Muhibbah Park, inspired by the concept of a Japanese garden, also offers quiet moments amidst landscaped greenery. The park is located opposite the Kampar police station.
Eat claypot chicken rice and chicken biscuits
Finally, mention must be made of Kampar’s famous claypot chicken rice. The dish is rice cooked with marinated chicken pieces and sausages in a claypot, and served with a small piece of salted fish. A good buy before your goodbye is chicken biscuit, which is sold by confectionery stores and grocers.
How to find Kampar
The town is about two hours north of KL, via the Lebuhraya Utara / AH2.
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