Kellie’s Castle, also known as Kellie’s Folly, is a century-old and incomplete castle near Batu Gajah, a small city located in the south of Perak’s capital, Ipoh. It was built to become a larger mansion for William Kellie Smith, a planter from Scotland who arrived in Malaya in 1890.

The castle, with a blend of Scottish, Moorish, and Indian architecture, stands majestically among vast acres of oil palm estate. Many visitors come here because of its intriguing past. There are various folktales, stories and even myths surrounding its history, making it one of the most interesting sights to see in Perak.

The construction of the castle did not complete. However, you can still see the main rooms, a wine cellar, an elevator shaft as well as narrow stairways leading to dark rooms in the basement. Beside the castle lies the ruins of Smith’s first mansion, Kellas House, which was almost wiped out during World War II.

Kellas House: Smith's mansion that was almost wiped out during World War II.
Kellas House: Smith’s mansion that was almost wiped out during World War II.

As you stroll around what’s left of the historic architecture, description boards detailing the castle’s past will send chills down your spine. Rumors have it that spirits of William Kellie Smith and his family members still roam the castle at night. These sightings have sparked ghost hunting activities at night. Today, the castle even hosts its own Paranormal Night Tours for thrill-seekers.

Some believe the castle has multiple underground tunnels and secret rooms which the public cannot access. The tunnels link the castle to a nearby temple as well as where the rubber tree plantation owned by the same family used to be.

History

The construction of Kellie’s Castle was shrouded in a series of unfortunate events.

William Kellie Smith, a planter from Scotland, is the person who commissioned the building of Kellie’s Castle after his wife gave birth to his son in 1915. He was a civil engineer when he arrived in Malaya in 1890. After achieving success through his initial venture, he went into the rubber tree planting and tin mining industry.

Even though it is still unclear whether the castle is a gift for Smith’s wife or whether it was erected to celebrate the birth of his son, we do know that its construction is not a small feat. To build it, Smith hired 70 workers from Madras, India and brought them over to Malaya. He imported his building materials like bricks and marbles from India too.

Smith’s plan was to build a larger home for his family and connect it to his existing residence, Kellas House. He wanted to have a 6-storey tower, an indoor tennis court, a rooftop courtyard as well as an elevator. The completion of the castle would have made the elevator a first in Malaya back then.

When the construction was in progress, Smith’s workers were hit with a lethal form of viral flu. Smith, under the advice of his workers, then agreed to build a Hindu temple nearby. They believed that the temple would appease the Gods to protect them from the deadly disease. The workers also erected a statue of Smith alongside other deities on the roof of the temple to appreciate his generosity.

In 1926, Smith passed away at the age of 56 due to pneumonia that he contracted during his trip to Lisbon, Portugal. He was in the city to pick up the elevator for his castle. When this happened, his bereaved wife sold the castle and never came back to Malaya, putting the entire construction of Kellie’s Castle on pause.

Attraction Type

Sight and landmark

Name in Local Language

Malay: Istana Kellie
Mandarin: 凯利古堡

Gallery

Getting There and Around

The most popular and convenient way to reach Kellie’s Castle from Ipoh, the capital city of Perak, is by car.

You can also get to the castle by taxi, but it will be expensive due to the distance.

The most affordable option is by taking local buses. However, there is no accurate indication of stops along the bus routes. Thus, you will need to communicate your destination the driver. You must also be willing to accommodate hour-long wait times.

By Car

It takes about 30 minutes to drive from Ipoh’s town center to Kellie’s Castle, located beside a road named Jalan Gopeng.

Once you are on Jalan Gopeng, there should be road signs pointing you towards the building. It is impossible to miss it because the castle is on top of a small mountain that stands out from oil palm estates along the road.

By Taxi

Plenty of taxis wait for passengers outside Ipoh Railway Station as well as Sultan Azlan Shah Airport, which is the only airport in Ipoh.

Unfortunately, most of these drivers do not use their meter. You will need to negotiate the fare with them before getting into a taxi. A return trip from Ipoh to Kellie’s Castle should not cost more than RM100. Negotiate if they quoted a higher fare.

Ask the driver to wait for you if you need to get back to the town area after your visit. Getting a taxi at Kellie’s Castle is impossible. You can opt to pay the driver only after you are back in Ipoh. Doing so makes sure he does not drive off while you are exploring the attraction.

By Bus

To take a bus from Ipoh to Kellie’s Castle, you need to get yourself to Medan Kidd Bus Station, which is about 10 to 15 minutes walk from Ipoh Railway Station.

Here are the directions to go from Ipoh Railway Station to Medan Kidd Bus Station:

  1. Exit Ipoh Railway Station.
  2. Upon reaching the main road outside of the railway station, turn right while staying on the same side of the road.
  3. Walk straight for about 10 to 15 minutes. You will walk past a Poslaju building on your right.
  4. When you reach a roundabout, Medan Kidd Bus Station should be on your right.

From Medan Kidd Bus Station

  1. Take the Route 66 Perak Transit bus heading to Kampar.
  2. Disembark when the bus reaches Gopeng.

From Gopeng

  1. Take the Route 67 Perak Transit bus heading to Batu Gajah.
  2. Disembark when the bus reaches Kellie’s Castle.

If you are unsure when to alight from buses, make it known to the driver of your destination. You should also stand or sit somewhere near to the driver’s seat. Doing so allows him to notify you when the bus is approaching your destination.

To head back to Ipoh from Kellie’s Castle, cross the main road outside the castle to catch Route 67 Perak Transit bus heading to Gopeng. The bus runs on an interval of 1 hour, and the last bus will drive past the castle at around 6:00pm every day.

From Gopeng, you can take the Route 66 Perak Transit bus back to Medan Kidd Bus Station in Ipoh.

Things to Note

  • If you are carrying huge luggages, you can leave them at the ticketing counter.
  • The stairwells of the castle are narrow. Try to give way to others whenever you can.
  • Be careful when you are at the castle’s rooftop. There are no barricades preventing someone from falling off the edges.

Key Attractions

The following attractions do not bear any meaning unless you spend some time reading about Kellie’s Castle’s history.

Aside from wandering around the castle and its compound, visitors love to ascend to its rooftop for a scenic view. Come at night if you are someone who is daring enough to join the Paranormal Night Tour.

Different Sections of the Castle

Aside from admiring the various architectural elements of the building, parts of the building garners more interests due to paranormal sightings.

Smith's spirit was seen roaming at this corridor at night.
Smith’s spirit was seen roaming at this corridor at night.

For example, people have sighted Smith’s spirit pacing across the corridor outside the main rooms of the building.

Helen’s (Smith’s daughter) ghost had also been seen appearing from the door of her room for seconds before vanishing. Those who believed to have sighted her said they saw a young girl around six years of age wearing a white blouse. There were also people who saw toys moving on their own in her room. Some even heard frightening childlike laughter. However, these claims were disputed because Helen left Malaya with her father before his death and never came back.

Wall Sculpture in the Room Built for Smith's Son
Wall Sculpture in the Room Built for Smith’s Son
Blue Plasterwork Around the Ceiling in Helen's Room
Blue Plasterwork Around the Ceiling in Helen’s Room

Other than Smith’s family members, visitors have also reported that they saw Gopal, who is the laundry man for the family, cleaning up the linen room. The underground wine cellar beneath a flight of spiral stairs is also an interesting place to check out because it is dark, cold and eerily noiseless.

Wine Racks in Kellie's Castle Underground Wine Cellar
Wine Racks in Kellie’s Castle Underground Wine Cellar

Don’t miss a flight of spiral stairs down to a secret room during your visit. The purpose of the room is unclear. People believe it is a hiding spot for Smith’s family if an emergency occurs. However, in an advertisement dated 7 October 1927 to sell both Kellas House and this incomplete castle, the secret room was labeled as a “circular darkroom for photography”.

The Secret Room with an Unclear Purpose
The Secret Room with an Unclear Purpose
Spiral Stairs to the Secret Room
Spiral Stairs to the Secret Room

On top of all that, some believe workers who passed away from the virulent strain of flu while building the castle as well as those who were executed by the Japanese army at the castle during World War II still haunt the place until today.

The Refurbished Living Room in Kellie's Castle
The Refurbished Living Room in Kellie’s Castle

The company managing the castle today has fully refurbished its living room. It now has furniture and fittings which showcase how it would look like if workers completed the construction back then.

Rooftop

Smith planned to house an indoor tennis court and an entertainment courtyard at the top floors of the castle. Of course, the idea didn’t come to fruition as the construction of the building was abandoned.

Kellie's Castle's Rooftop
Kellie’s Castle’s Rooftop

Today, the rooftop offers a breathtaking view of the castle’s surroundings which consists of vast acres of oil palm estates, a gentle stream as well as a range of mountains in the background. It also allows visitors to have a glimpse down the shaft of the elevator which was supposed to be the first elevator in Malaya.

The View Down Kellie's Castle's Elevator Shaft
The View Down Kellie’s Castle’s Elevator Shaft

The rooftop does not have a barricade along its edge. Thus, it is not a place where someone who is afraid of heights will fancy.

Paranormal Night Tour

The Paranormal Night Tour at Kellie’s Castle is a tour that covers the castle’s hallways, rooms, and stairways at night.

A guide will accompany tour participants and explain to them about the castle’s history. However, there will be moments where he will leave the participants alone in dark rooms around the castle. Are you getting goosebumps at this point? Then this tour is probably not for you.

The location of the castle is far from urban development, and almost nobody uses the road outside at night. Pin-drop silence takes over when the guide stops talking. When this happens, the spookiness and eeriness of being at the castle at night escalate quickly.

Each tour takes about 30 to 45 minutes, and they only have it on the first and fourth Friday and Saturday of the month. Each participant has to pay RM80 to experience the tour. Also, it is only open for adults who are 17 years old or older.

Opening Hours

8:30am to 7:00pm. Opens daily including public holidays.

Admission Fees

Foreigner: RM5
Local Adult: RM4
Secondary School Student: RM3
Primary School Student: RM2
Child (aged six and below): Free

Contact Information

Address
Kellie’s Castle
Jalan Gopeng, Batu Gajah,
31000 Batu Gajah, Perak,
Malaysia.

Phone Number
+60 5 365 3381

Email Address
[email protected]

GPS Coordinates

4.4743826,101.0855991

Facilities

  • Toilet
  • Canteen
  • Souvenir shop

Parking

Free

Travel Blog Mentions

Exploring the Ruins of Kellie’s Castle in Malaysia

Marlies, who is a travel blogger living in Belgium, came to Malaysia to explore Kellie’s Castle in August 2015. During her visit, she spotted a tree trunk that looks like a bear’s head. Head over to her blog post to see how it looks like!

The Haunted Kellie’s Castle, Batu Gajah Near Ipoh

Jacomijn Heupink published a blog post in June 2014 about her visit to Kellie’s Castle. She even visited the temple which William Kelly Smith built for his workers after the outbreak of Spanish flu. You can see how the temple and Smith’s statue look like in her blog post.

Paranormal Night Tour @ Kellie’s Castle

In March 2014, Fuad Mnoor, who is a blogger from Malaysia, participated in the Paranormal Night Tour at Kellie’s Castle. Nobody has a better write-up on the experience than him so do check it out if you are curious to know what happened during the tour.

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Wayne Liew

Wayne fell in love with traveling and every aspect of it when he traveled to Singapore in 2013. He is a newbie when it comes to traveling and he loves chatting with other travelers to learn from their experiences. Are you a traveler? Let’s connect!

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