KL ashram, surrounding area now a heritage site

The ashram in Kuala Lumpur was built in 1908 in honour of Swami Vivekananda, a famous philosopher from India. The building is used for community education and spiritual development.
The ashram in Kuala Lumpur was built in 1908 in honour of Swami Vivekananda, a famous philosopher from India. The building is used for community education and spiritual development.PHOTO: THE STAR/ASIA NEWS NETWORK

KUALA LUMPUR • A century-old ashram in Kuala Lumpur's Little India and its surrounding land have been declared a heritage site by the government, Malaysia's Tourism and Culture Minister Nazri Aziz said yesterday.

He said that the government has rejected an appeal by the Vivekananda ashram's board of trustees, who were against turning the building and its 0.4ha land into a heritage site.

The trustees had first tried to sell the land about 26 years ago, and made another attempt 11 years ago to sell it for RM15 million. But both plans were aborted after public protests, including via the collection of more than 100,000 signatures, Malaysian media reports say.

The ashram was built in 1908 in honour of Swami Vivekananda, a famous philosopher from India. The building is used today for community education and spiritual development.

The area around the ashram in Brickfields has turned since the mid-1990s into one filled with glitzy condominiums and high-rise offices centred on the Malaysian capital's main rail transport hub called KL Sentral.

Datuk Seri Nazri said in a Parliament reply yesterday: "If they want to make changes to the building or land, or if they want to do something to it, they must meet the heritage commissioner. Case is closed."

THE STAR/ASIA NEWS NETWORK

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on October 29, 2015, with the headline 'KL ashram, surrounding area now a heritage site'. Print Edition | Subscribe