After all that time going stir crazy under lockdown, it’s unsurprising that so many people are flocking to malls or restaurants to get back to the normal before the coronavirus pandemic. However, crowding the shops isn’t necessarily the best idea when it comes to keeping up with the new safety norms.
Instead of hopping into stores for a shopping spree for all the on-sale Adidas or seeing if the entertainment world is still alive at the cinemas, why not visit the serene little haven that sits between Tugu Negara and Bank Negara?
For the city-dwelling nature lovers, this little gem that sits in the heart of Kuala Lumpur is sure to be a delight. Spend a day away to get lost in Malaysia’s very own 66-acre secret garden filled with wonders aplenty.
Here’s what you need to know if you’re checking Taman Tugu off your list and letting your inner explorer free on your next outing.
There are 66 acres of land in total that make up the Taman Tugu area, a decent patch of ground surrounded on the edges by buildings and bustling city life. Around 40 acres and a total of 5km of trails are open to the public daily some treks may take a good hour of leisurely trekking. These areas are open from 7am to 6.30pm every day and admission is free.
It’s not just forest and footpaths here. The rest of the area holds an events space, outdoor activity grounds, a Surau-Jumaat and a Hindu Temple. This year, some of the land will also be incorporated into new trails so there will be more to explore.
It was initially proposed to Khazanah that the site be turned into a for-profit tourist attraction theme-park, which would have made for a very different Taman Tugu. Instead, Khazanah lent a listening ear to feedback from various communities as well as organisations like the Malaysian Nature Society (MNS) and were spurred into action.
It is why we have the free public space you see today, conserving a piece of the country for many to see.
Taman Tugu was once home to Malaysian government officials following the nation’s independence. This included Malaysia’s 1st Lord President, Malaysia’s 1st Director of Agriculture, and Finance Minister TunTan Siew Sin. Along the trails, there are concrete slabs that are the footprints left behind of the government quarters that once belonged there.
Aside from the remains of the past that scatter along the trails, the site was also home to the Madrasah Bustanul Ulum (a Surau-Jumaat) and four Hindu shrines. In respect for these places of worship, they have been moved and re-built in easier to access areas to not displace the current residents of the forest park.
The site is also home to the Institute of Strategic and International Studies Malaysia (ISIS-M) and Rumah-Kelab Persatuan Perkhidmatan Tadbir dan Diplomatik (PPTD) (Malaysian Civil Service Club-House), which are also current residents of the Taman Tugu site and will be retained at their existing locations.
The majesty of the Malaysian jungles is minute compared to what it once was. As is with Malaysian flora, there will always be palm trees, brought in by the British but at Taman Tugu there are also trees you may not normally get to see.
A partnership with the Forest Research Institute of Malaysia (FRIM) is to thank for the identification of up to 1,000 trees in the park. They have been tagged for preservation lest we lose indigenous species such as the Jelutong, Tembusu, Pulai and Gaharu.
Some of these giants measure more than 1 meter in diameter, potentially placing them at around 100 years old, and are a tree-hugger’s dream. For the walkers, joggers and trekkers, the trails are created in a ‘discoverable’ manner ensuring that none of the FRIM tagged trees will be compromised.
Over 4,000 trees around eight to 10 years old can be found. Of those, there are more than 230 indigenous Malaysian rainforest species sourced from nurseries and they include 1,000 trees that are categorised as ‘Endangered’ or ‘Critically Endangered’ by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) such as the Keruing, Meranti and Mersawa species.
Substantial efforts have also been made to select flora that will attract the right fauna to create a striving ecosystem including natural pollination, creating a little biome. Now is the time to see some of these trees in person, instead of reading about them in books.
Since we’re in uncertain times, there are a few guidelines in place to ensure everyone’s safety when visiting Taman Tugu. We can all enjoy having a little fresh air and good times outdoors without creating another cluster.
The Controlled Operating Environment which will be in place until further notice includes the following guidelines :
1) Only the main trails (approximately a 3-kilometre loop), car parks and toilets are opened. ALL other facilities remain closed until further notice – this includes the covered rest areas, gazebos, swings, water filter facility and other F&B.
2) The trails have been rerouted to provide separate entry and exit points as well as to ensure that everyone moves in a 1-way circulation manner.
3) Additional signages have been put up throughout the trails to guide visitors and to remind everyone of the health and safety precautions they should adhere to.
4) A visitor count is conducted throughout the day at the entry and exit points of the trails and access is managed to ensure that the trails provide enough space for safe social distancing. Temperature checks are also conducted prior to anyone entering the trails.
5) All activities including guided walks, tours, gatherings and functions have been postponed until further notice.
The last entry into the park is at 5.45pm and gates may be closed earlier due to inclement weather or other health and safety hazards. To get there, search for ‘Taman Tugu Nursery’ which is the main entrance to the Park.
For curious cats, there is more information available online at www.tamantuguproject.com.my
@friendsoftamantugu on IG/FB