New maritime heritage trail offers insights into past and present

Launched in support of the Singapore Bicentennial, the Maritime Trail includes visits to Commercial Square, the Rochor River and Kampong Glam and ends at the Malay Heritage Centre.
Launched in support of the Singapore Bicentennial, the Maritime Trail includes visits to Commercial Square, the Rochor River and Kampong Glam and ends at the Malay Heritage Centre.ST PHOTO: KELVIN CHNG

SINGAPORE - As visitors stepped into the Fuk Tak Chi Temple, they were greeted by an intricate model of a boat with Chinese characters wishing seafarers a safe journey painted on its sail.

Originally a shrine set up by Confucianists and Taoists to give thanks for their safe journey to Singapore, it was converted to a museum in 1998.

Located on Telok Ayer Street, the area is replete with temples, mosques and shrines set up by immigrants after their journeys across the sea. One of these, the Nagore Dargah Shrine, was built in memory of Shahul Hamid who was believed to have miraculously saved sailors in distress as the Saint of Nagore in southern India.

Today, the shrine serves as an Indian Muslim Heritage Centre.

These places form part of the Singapore Maritime Trail 3: Our Legacy, a free guided walk which was launched on Friday (March 29) by Mr Baey Yam Keng, Senior Parliamentary Secretary for Transport and for Culture, Community and Youth.

Attended by around 50 members of the public, including local students, Friday's short tour offered a sneak preview of the full 2.5-hour heritage trail.

Ms Tan Beng Tee, assistant chief executive (development) of the Maritime and Port Authority of Singapore, which is behind the trail, said it aims to "pique interest in Singapore's rich maritime heritage and excite the young in the maritime sector".

Among the sites visited in Telok Ayer Basin were the Nagore Dargah Shrine and the Thian Hock Keng Temple, which is the trail's starting point.


Mr Yip Yew Chong, who was commissioned by Singapore Hokkien Huay Kuan to paint the 44m-long mural behind Thian Hock Keng Temple, introducing his piece. ST PHOTO: KELVIN CHNG

Visitors were impressed by the 44m-long mural behind the temple depicting the life of early Hokkien immigrants when they first arrived at Amoy Street. The mural was painted by Mr Yip Yew Chong, who introduced his piece to the visitors.

For Mr Ang Beng Thong, 81, it was his first time visiting many of these places, including the Sultan Gate at Kampong Glam.

Mr Ang, a pioneer who worked in the import and export industry as a clerk for 33 years, was once based in an office at Telok Ayer where he oversaw cargo.

"It is now totally different," he said. "Things have changed very fast, but it is good. Change means improvement."

 
 

Launched in support of the Singapore Bicentennial, the Maritime heritage trail includes visits to Commercial Square, the Rochor River, Kampong Glam and ends at the Malay Heritage Centre.

The third Maritime Trail was set up after the success of the first two which pull in a total of around 1,000 people a month.

Trail 1 was set up in 2014 and starts at Fort Canning and ends at Tanjong Pagar Terminal while Trail 2 starts at Keppel Harbour and ends at the Singapore Maritime Gallery.

Student Melvin Chin Yong An, 22, who is president of the Maritime Business Society at Nanyang Technological University (NTU), said the trail helps participants to "remember our past to create a better future".

Mr Baey said: "This trail reminds us of our history, which still plays a very important part in our development. We hope that this would interest younger people to find out more about our history."

The trails are open to the public and are held on the third Saturday of each month. To join, call 6836 6466 or register online via the MPA website.