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Putrajaya: Malaysia’s New Garden City

December 10th, 2010 by

Putrajaya is located about 25 km south of Kuala Lumpur (KL) and only 20 km from Kuala Lumpur International Airport (KLIA) at Sepang.  In 1999, a new seat of government was chosen to avoid congestion in frenetic KL. The development of a new capital city was an idea hatched by former Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohammad years before. As a result, the planned city was built over a vast 5,000 hectare swamp.

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In 2001, Putrajaya was made a Federal Territory of Malaysia, the third in the country with KL and Labuan.

Even if KL is the de facto commercial and financial capital of Malaysia, a lot of locals refer to Putrajaya as the new capital.

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To get to Putrajaya from accommodations in KL, one simply has to take the KL Monorail to KL Sentral. At KL Sentral, purchase a ticket to Putrajaya for the KLIA Train Transit.  The journey takes half an hour in all. From there, taxi drivers usually offer a tour of the city for about RM 25 to RM 30 per hour.

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Putrajaya has a notable abundance of wetlands and lush botanical gardens. Wide boulevards provide a somewhat European vibe and architecture in Putrajaya is notably diverse.

One exceptional landmark is Perdana Putra, which houses the office complex of the Prime Minister of Malaysia. In front of Perdana Putra is Putra Square.  The area hosts many local festivals and the annual Malaysian Independence Day Parade.

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Putra Bridge is one of the main spans in the new city. The bridge is a popular access point for pedestrians, vehicles and the Putrajaya monorail, with piers that feature popular restaurants with views over the water. The most spectacular bridge in the city, however, is the avant-garde, Santiago Calatrava-like Seri Wawasan Bridge.

Man-made Putrajaya Lake is the primary waterway in the new capital. Built to mitigate the hot climate and provide recreation for residents and tourists alike, the lake is a perpetual focal point.

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One of the most conspicuous marvels on the Putrajaya skyline is Putra Mosque. The eminent place of worship adheres to traditional aesthetics in many respects but stands out as a modern icon nonetheless. As with many landmarks built for the new capital of Malaysia, the mosque has strong Persian design accents. The minaret, a virtual copy of Sheikh Oman Mosque in Baghdad, is 116 metres high. The red granite used to construct Putra Mosque provides the structure with a pinkish hue.  Inside, the mosque is even more impressive and contains a library, museum, auditorium, seminar room, and exhibition hall. In all, the mosque can accommodate up to 15,000 people.

As a day trip from Kuala Lumpur, Putrajaya is well worth the effort. The city may not have the razzle-dazzle of the linchpin metropolis of 7 million people, but indeed, as a purpose-built capital, unfurls enough charm to keep visitors busy for a day or two.

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