The sleepy state of Perlis does not draw much attention except among those who like the quiet and the rustic in their travels. Indeed, this is the charm of the state – no hurly-burly, no hustle and bustle, just serenity and tranquillity amidst rural landscapes and paddy fields.
A big portion of Perlis’ 230 000 population are Malays, and all of them are Muslims. That said, one is likely to run into a mosque or a surau (small mosque) every other kilometre or so. The prominent amongst the mosques are the Syed Alwi Mosque, the Royal Mosque (also known as the State Mosque), and the Syed Putra Mosque. The latest addition is the few-week-old Masjid Terapung Kuala Perlis (Kuala Perlis Floating Mosque).
The Royal Mosque is in Arau, Perlis’ royal town. Situated just across the Royal Palace, it is of modern architectural style, although a hint of Moorish influence can be discerned. It was built in 1972 on a site where the Old Arau Mosque (Masjid Lama Arau) used to stand. Just like many other mosques in the country, there is an area where the wudu (ablution – an Islamic cleansing ritual) is performed, and an open space for prayers. The flooring is made of marble, but most have now been covered with carpet. Geometric designs adorn the carpet, repeating the design found on the iron grill surrounding some parts of the mosque wall. Up to 7000 worshippers can be accommodated at any one time. There is an upstairs section of the mosque, where women pray.
There are essentially no decorative features in the interior, save two rows of wooden carvings near the pulpit (an elevated structure where the imam delivers his sermons), and the pulpit itself. The pulpit carries with it a bit of history worth retelling. It was made in the turn of the century (circa 1905) during the time of Raja Syed Saffi Jamalullail, the ruler of Perlis, to be placed in the Old Mosque. The craftsman who made it was from Penang. The pulpit was transported from Penang to Kangar (about 10 km from Arau) via the Tebing Tinggi River, before it was carried by a horse-driven carriage to Arau. When the Old Mosque was demolished to make way for the new State Mosque, the pulpit remained.
The exterior of the mosque is not much different from other mosques in Malaysia. It is whitewashed, accentuated with blue borders, and has the characteristic golden dome found in other mosques. There are several minarets that bring out the splendour of the dome. A covered courtyard surrounds the mosque, protecting worshippers from the sweltering Perlis sun when the mosque is fully occupied.
A visit to the Perlis Royal Mosque is an absolute must when having holiday in Perlis. The non-Muslim visitor will no doubt enjoy the repeating sight of the minaret-and-dome blend which is a unifying imagery of Islam throughout the world, but adapted, in this mosque, by local Perlis artisans. The Muslim traveler can obviously benefit from the calmness of the ambient when offering prayers in it.
|Recommended Hotels in Perlis:|
|Hotel Seri Malaysia Kangar|
|Beautiful view with small hill as backdrop, clean and spacious room.|
|Spacious room and huge bathroom.|
|Putra Putri Lodge|
|Comfortable room and value for money accommodation in town centre.|