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Posted by: sysoptwkang on Jul 14, 2009 - 07:42 AM
St Paul’s Hill in Malacca is a mountain of mysteries. Whether it is an unexplained little indented circular ground at the entrance of a fort, an unusual arch supporting the base of a pillar or a recycled tombstone bearing names of Portuguese as well as the Dutch, they hold secrets more intriguing than the Da Vinci Code. The story that there are secret tunnels below the streets of Malacca is fact and not myth.
The three beliefs that have been circulating in Malacca since the old days are that of a big hole at a certain gate (and that there was a large snake that ate people who entered the hole), a tunnel running from the Stadthuys to Malacca River and a tunnel running from St Paul’s Hill to St John’s Hill.
The tunnels are most probably catacombs used first by the Portuguese and then the Dutch. The fact that so many historians, including Munshi Abdullah, wrote about tunnels at St Paul’s Hill showed that there must be a grain of truth in the story.
Munshi Abdullah wrote in Hikayat Abdullah (1849) that one had to walk through a tunnel built into a hill to reach the elaborate residence of the Governor on St Paul’s Hill.
Four other historians — Gasper Correa, Reverend Father Georg Schurhammer, John Cameron and Reverend Father Rene Cardon — also wrote concretely of tunnels of sorts below St Paul’s Hill.
To really carry out proper studies into the tunnels, one must be able to read the old writings and records of Portuguese and Dutch now mainly in Europe.
I hope I can get the backing from bodies such as the Malacca Museum Corporation as well as Badan Warisan Malaysia to carry out more research on these tunnels.
Tour guides in Malacca can also fire up the imagination of tourists about these tunnels. The next time we visit Malacca, perhaps we should all carry a cangkul and start digging!
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