Made a really impromptu trip back to KL last week to do a bit of volunteer guiding. My friend really wanted to visit a mosque, and since we were in Kuala Lumpur, the mosque to go to is of course the most important mosque in the country, Masjid Negara – Malaysia’s national mosque.
Built in 1965 on the site of a former church, Masjid Negara was designed, in the words of Malaysia’s travel brochure, “to embody the aspirations of newly-independent Malaysia”. The mosque’s architects were a British (Howard Ashley), and two Malaysians (Hisham Albakri and Baharuddin Kassim).
Unlike most mosques in the country, the design is quite unique, as the main hall is not topped with a round dome. Instead, the design of both the main roof and minaret are reminiscent of umbrellas, with the main roof being an opened umbrella, and the minaret’s cap, a closed one. Why umbrellas? Beats me. Probably because of Malaysia’s tropical weather which brings rains and sunshine in equal doses. (In reality, these days, nobody in Malaysia really uses an umbrella.).
The main dome’s star-shape has 18 points, representing the 13 states in Malaysia and the five pillars of Islam. Before 1987, the blue and green roof was actually pink in colour! It is difficult to get a photo of the roof from inside the mosque compounds, and the photo above is my best shot.
In total, the mosque can accommodate up to 15,000 worshippers, with the main prayer hall itself accommodating 8000 people.
Just outside the main prayer room is the women’s prayer hall. The numerous pillars make for a very interesting photo.
The 73-m tall minaret, with its “closed umbrella” top.
Makam Pahlawan (Heroes’ Mausoleum), towards the back of the mosque, contains the crypt of Tun Abdul Razak, Malaysia’s second prime minister, and several other Malaysian muslim leaders. The roof of the tomb is a 7-pointed star.
My ratings: ***
In my opinion, there are more beautiful mosques in Malaysia and KL (My favourite being the nearby Masjid Jamek). But this is one of the most accessible in Kuala Lumpur in terms of proximity and accessibility by public transport.
Saturday-Thursday 9am-12pm, 3pm-4pm, 5.30pm-6.30pm.
Friday 3pm-4pm, 5.30pm-6.30pm
Entrance fee: free
Visitors to the mosque must be dressed in appropriate clothing. Robes and headscarves can be borrowed from the desk at the mosque’s entrance gate.
From KL Sentral station, take the KTM Komuter train to Kuala Lumpur Station. From there, just walk straight out the train station. Take the underpass to the KTM Headquarters Building on the other side. Go right, and you will see Masjid Negara just around the corner.