Bahtera Merdeka - Latest Tourist Attraction In Melaka

Last update: 17/10/2014

By Hidayah Nazri

First of a two-part article on Kembara Cuti-Cuti 1 Malaysia (KCC1M): Melaka, organised by Gaya Travel Magazine and Tourism Malaysia, Melaka

MELAKA (Bernama) -- Bahtera Merdeka, the latest initiative of the state government, is set to realise Melaka's goal of positioning the state as the world's main tourist destination.

Visitors to the historical city will be able to relive the history of Melaka at this new tourist spot in Banda Hilir, which was officially opened to the public in September this year.

A group of journalists on a media tour taglined Kembara Cuti-Cuti 1 Malaysia (KCCIM) visited the RM62.59 million 'Melaka Alive - Bahtera Merdeka: History In A New Way' project recently. The visit from Sept 30 to Oct 3, was organised by Gaya Travel Magazine and Tourism Malaysia, Melaka.

Visitors to Bahtera Merdeka can watch the performance inside a ship that has been built to be like the ones that have been used during the Melaka Sultanate era. The ship is known as Bahtera Merdeka, a Malay word for big ship.

This site promises visitors a unique experience in which they will journey through time from the arrival of Melaka's founding father Parameswara, also called Iskandar Shah, in the 14th century to the invasions by the Portuguese, Dutch and British until present day Melaka.

World's First

It is said that this new tourism icon in Melaka is poised to make Melaka, the first in the world to use light and sound performance, that uses the history and heritage as the theme.

The project, which applies new technology to make the performance more unique and interesting, invites tourists to learn more about Melaka's history since 751 years ago until the day Malaya achieved its independence.

Bahtera Merdeka, which can accommodate up to 500 people at one time, is sort of a cinema cum amphitheatre but utilises the water fountains in its showcase. This is the first fountain cinema screen built in Asia based on European and American technology.

It comes alive with a showcase of Melaka's history - how Parameswara founded Melaka in the 14th century, as related by his assistants Panglima Awang and Puteri, with visuals transmitted via a projector.

The Story of Melaka via the 'Maritime Adventure with Panglima Awang and Puteri', which is the first of three shows offered to the public, is displayed on a large water screen. The other two shows will be staged at different venues around Banda Hilir.

The Story of Melaka

According to the Malay Annals, legend has it that Parameswara, the then king, was resting under a tree by a river when his dog started to attack a mouse deer, which later pushed the dog into the river.

The brave gesture of the mouse deer had impressed him to immediately build a city on its spot. He then asked his followers to name of the tree which he was resting under, and was advised of its name - Melaka. He named the state 'Melaka' since then.

The Bahtera Merdeka project will be a new 5D experience, a theatrical show with lighting, water and explosion special effects.

It took the organisers about three years to complete the production of the Melaka story, as performance at Bahtera Merdeka is subject to approval from the relevant authorities, given its status as a United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO) Heritage site.

The success of this project is also attributed to joint efforts by the various authorities such as the Melaka Museum Corporation (PERZIM), the Melaka City Hall, the Department of National Heritage).

Entrance fees to Bahtera Merdeka range from RM30 for children to RM35 for students who are Mycard holders and RM45 for non-with Mycard holders. Those born in Melaka can enter at discount rates.

It opens four times a week from Thursday to Sunday, with 3 slots per day at 7.45 am, 4.45 pm and 9.45 pm.