Thursday, December 12, 2013

A Historical Walk Along Fort Canning Park

Back in the olden days, Fort Canning was known as Bukit Larangan which is Malay for Forbidden Hill. It has been said that Sir Stamford Raffles used to live here in the 1800s and that Fort Canning was also the place where British governers used to stay. Military equipment also used to be stored here and an army bunker was located right here at the Forbidden Hill. Fast forward to today, Fort Canning is no longer forbidden and it has been turned into a public park known as Fort Canning Park for everyone to enjoy. The park is loaded with history and interesting facts for history buffs and for anyone who's interested in Singapore's history. Now, let me give you a virtual tour of this great public park so read on.

A very mysterious entrance

Fort Canning Park is actually quite well-hidden and its located rather high on a hill. Despite all that, it's still relatively easy to find. There are plenty of entrances and there are plenty of parking space by using this road shown above called Canning Rise. How did I get here? Just ride the MRT to Dhoby Ghaut MRT Station, cross the road to Park Mall and beside the mall, a tall staircase will lead you to the park. An alternative is to use an entrance facing River Valley Road opposite Liang Court Shopping Centre. Whichever method you choose to get there, all that walking and climbing will totally be worth it.

Lots Of Staircases

I had to climb up the stairs near the Park Mall entrance and I still had to climb some more. Tiring? Definitely. But, it's totally worth it. At the top of the stairs, loads of people can be seen jogging and strolling. Like a regular public park, plenty of plants, trees, benches and other facilities can be found here. You can even read a book and spend time chatting away under the trees as well because this park is definitely a great place to slow yourself down and enjoy the calming environment. Thinking about it already makes me feel calm.

Plenty of Art Sculptures

If you are a big fan of art, there are plenty of beautiful sculptures for you to check out. It's called the ASEAN Art Garden and you can find interesting ones like this found near the carpark. There was another piece where the whole sculpture was made out of metal nearby. I can't remember how it looked like so you have to check it out yourself.

Interesting Information Boards Everywhere


If you have some time when walking around Fort Canning Park, information boards like these will provide you with some interesting history about the park. This signboard talks about the road that's beside the park, Canning Walk, along with Lord Canning whom the park was named after. I'm not going to spoil the story for you so do visit the park and read the info boards to know more about the park. Plenty of map boards can also be found at the park so if you feel lost, just find a mapboard. Do me a favour and take a picture of the mapboard before embarking on the adventure so you need not worry about being lost in the park. Directional signs are also conveniently located almost everywhere.

Fort Canning Park Open Field

There is also an open field at Fort Canning Park itself which where a lot of popular concerts and events are held like Shakespeare In The Park, Laneway Music Festival and so much more. I can see the reason why they always like to hold it here. It's just so nice and spacious and who wouldn't want to come here at night enjoying themselves and having fun at the concerts and events? I personally have not attended a concert here before but still, I can imagine all the fun when the event is held here at night.

The Fort Canning Centre

This building looks like a very old school kind of building if you notice and it's called the Fort Canning Centre. Currently, The Fort Canning Centre is mainly just a building to host various kinds of events, exhibitions and art spaces. Many events have taken place here at the Fort Canning Centre due to its beautiful historical architecture.

I'm not entirely sure if it's accurate but it's been said that this building used to be the place where the British soldiers (when the British was under the control of Singapore) kept their weapons and it's also the place where old British governors used to live and did their work. It's amazing how they still managed to conserve and keep the building to this day although for a different purpose.

A Grand Entrance

Before entering the lawn and Fort Canning Centre, you will be greeted with this grand entrance. According to the official NParks website, this official entrance used to be the entrance for the former cemetery formerly located here. Yes, that is right, there used to be a cemetery here. Now, the cemetery has been cleared and it has been converted to the Fort Canning Green, the open field where popular concerts and events take place.

The Battle Box

This is the Battle Box. It's an attraction where visitors can actually know more about the history of World War 2 in Singapore. Back then, it has been used as an underground bunker where British soldiers used to come here as it was the command centre. Inside, you can find mannequins that dress up as British soldiers and officials showing how they work in this underground bunker during the War. It's an interesting attraction for history buffs out there.

One problem is that, when I passed by the Battle Box back in June, they said it was closed until further notice. If you want to visit the Battle Box, you can check the website ( to find out more and to check whether or not it's open to the public.

Fort Canning Archaelogical Site

Right over here is the Fort Canning Archaelogical Site and it's the place where researchers have gone to excavate or dig up some information about Fort Canning Park. The Archaelogical site was set up in 1984 and thousands of evidences and information about the history of Fort Canning were found here. Right now, I'm unsure whether or not they still do some digging up but what I do know is that they have converted into sort of like an exhibition which you can check out if you want to find out more about the history of Fort Canning and archaelogy in general. This place can be found when walking along the Spice Garden.

Oh and one more thing, there is also another part of Fort Canning which I really found interesting and it's called Keramat Iskandar Syah which is the burial grounds of former ruler of Temasek (Singapore's old name). Unfortunately, I don't have a picture but I know that inside the place, you can see the burial grounds but there were many rumours stating that Iskandar Syah was not actually buried there. Whether it's true or not, it's up to you to believe. Anyway, Keramat Iskandar Syah is a really interesting part of Fort Canning Park and it's also located right beside the Spice Garden.

Awesome Cannons (Props)

When walking towards the exit, I spotted some of these guns and cannons that were found at the top of the park. Now, I believe these aren't actually real but they must be some sort of prop. Of course, these props make it look like the real thing used back in the days. Now you can't actually shoot something out of these things but at least you can pretend to do so. Anyway, they're very cool looking props and if you are interested in these kind of things, feel free to visit and take an up close and personal look at them.

The Fort Gate

Right over here behind Fort Canning Centre, is the Fort Gate. The Fort Gate along with the walls that accompany the Gate are the remains of a fortress which occupied the hill in 1826. Back then, Coolies had to build the fort and the fort was also the place where they placed guns, cannons and other kinds of artillery. It's been said that the cannons will shoot three times a day around 5am, 1pm and 9pm to announce the hour. Now, all that remains is this. There's also a wooden door which you can actually open but it just leads you to the other side of the park. If you don't feel like walking through this structure, you can just walk around it. Still, it's cool to see this Gate still existing.

Hotel Fort Canning

Here's another building I have spotted when walking around Fort Canning Park. It's called Hotel Fort Canning and (obviously) is located near the Park. You may think that a hotel is not really that interesting and that there are plenty of them in the city area and in Singapore in general. However, the reason why I want to highlight this hotel is because of its rich history like the other buildings in the park.

This building was formerly a military building and it was built in 1926 and considered the Administration Building for the British Far East Command. Some high profile officers had their offices in this building back then but during the Japanese Occupation in 1942, it was occupied by the Japanese Military. The British Military took it back after the war but soon after Singapore's independence it became vacant and in 2010, it has been turned into a hotel. If you want to stay in a hotel rich in history and has beautiful colonial architecture, Hotel Fort Canning is definitely for you although I have never stayed here before.


Fort Canning is certainly a great park with lots of historical heritage and it's certainly a MUST visit for history buffs out there. You can visit the Battle Box (how officers did their work but currently closed temporarily), the Fort Canning Centre (former governor headquarters), Hotel Fort Canning (former Admin Building), Keramat Iskandar Syah and so much more. I can confirm to you that when you walk out of the park, you will learn a lot more about the history of Singapore.

However, if you are not such a history buff, this park is still a great public park with plenty of facilities for you to enjoy. There are plenty of jogging tracks, open fields, benches for you to rest, art sculptures and so much more. The environment is simply soothing and it's quiet as compared to other parks in the city area. Fort Canning Park is really a great place to visit. There are plenty of entrances for you to enter the park so just make sure you know how to get there if you are planning to visit the park.

Getting Here

Bus services available: 7, 14, 14e, 16, 36, 65, 77, 106, 111, 124, 128, 162, 162M, 167, 171 (Bus stop along Penang Road near Dhoby Ghaut Station)

Nearest MRT Station: NS24, NE6, CC1 Dhoby Ghaut MRT Station (North South Line, North East Line, Circle Line) 


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