Built in 1915 by the Scottish planter William Kellie-Smith, this architectural marvel once featured in the 1999 Oscar-nominated film “Anna and the King,” starring Jodie Foster and Chow Yun-fat. Originally conceived to house Malaysia’s inaugural elevator, the castle was envisioned as a grand structure comprising a 6-story tower, concealed tunnels, a tennis court, and a rooftop courtyard for lavish gatherings. Regrettably, it remained incomplete.
William Kellie-Smith, born in Scotland in 1870, arrived in Malaya in 1890, joining Charles Alma Baker’s survey firm as a civil engineer. His ventures extended to rubber plantations and the tin mining industry, amassing him considerable wealth. In 1903, he brought his Scottish bride, Agnes, to Malaya, where they welcomed a daughter named Helen and a son, Anthony.
To erect this opulent mansion, laborers were imported from India, and bricks and marbles were shipped in from abroad. Tragedy struck when William Kellie-Smith succumbed to pneumonia during a brief sojourn in Lisbon, Portugal, in 1926. Following his untimely demise, construction came to an abrupt halt. Agnes subsequently sold the castle to the British company Harrisons and Crosfield, leading to its abandonment and eventual transformation into a historical landmark.
The castle’s architectural style blends Moorish, Indo-Saracenic, and Roman influences, characterized by horseshoe-shaped arches, exquisite imported tiles and bricks, and intricately adorned plaster cornice designs gracing the ceilings. Visitors are granted access to the rooftop, where breathtaking vistas of the surroundings can be savored. Despite persistent rumors of ghostly sightings in the vicinity, one cannot deny the awe-inspiring structural marvels that adorn every corner of Kellie’s Castle.
The castle welcomes visitors daily from 9:00 am to 6:00 pm. Entrance fees for foreign tourists are RM10 for adults and RM8 for children, while Malaysians are charged RM5 for adults and RM3 for children.
Directions: Kellie’s Castle is situated on Jalan Gopeng in Batu Gajah, approximately a two-hour drive from Kuala Lumpur. Jalan Gopeng is a 30-minute drive from Ipoh town.