Melaka (or Malacca) is a state in Malaysia, and was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2008. Melaka is famous for its historical ruins and culture. In the 1400s, it was re-discovered (I would not use the world ‘discovered’ here because Malays already inhabited the state before that) by Parameswara, the King of Singapura (no points for guessing its present-day name).
According to legend, Parameswara, tired after a day of hunting, rested under a tree close to the Melaka River. One of his hunting dogs spotted a mouse deer and chased it. But what followed was particularly surprising – the mouse deer retaliated and caused the dog to fall into the river. Parameswara saw this as a symbol of the weak rising against the powerful. It is at this spot that Parameswara declared Melaka his empire – and he named it after the tree under which he took rest – the Melaka Tree.
From then onwards, Melaka became a strategic port. Due to its importance, the Portuguese were able to colonise it in the 16th Century. The Dutch then followed. Finally the British Empire took over from the 19th to 20th Century until freedom was restored.
Today Melaka houses some famous ruins from its colonial past. A’Famosa, a fort, is what remains from Portuguese rule. Stadthuys is what the Dutch left behind. There are also some old houses in Bukit Cina (the Chinese area of Melaka), as well as a Little India.
I spent a day in Melaka going around the ruins of A’Famosa, St. Paul’s Church, Dutch Square, Bukit Cina, St. Francis Xavier’s Church, as well as some other museums. If you do not have much time to stay in Melaka, you can spend a day there and see all the major sights. However, get ready to walk for a good number of hours. For me, it was easily more than 12 hours of sightseeing and more than 9 hours of walking. However, you can avoid the walking by going around in some overly-adorned trishaws. There’s a lot of shopping that can be done – at Dataran Pahalawan and Jonker Street (which opens only at night).
Here are some photographs of the trip.