Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Jalan Hang Jebat and Masjid Hang Jebat

Every since my workplace moved to West Coast, from my house, I had to pass by this road at the Portsdown Avenue area called "Jalan Hang Jebat". I was quite fascinated by the road upon passing by it a couple of times that I vowed to visit the area one day.
"Jalan Hang Jebat" street sign.
I had a chance to visit the road and prayed at the mosque at the road's end. But by August 2015, construction was on the way for realignment of roads at Portsdown Avenue. Since I had started my blog for the purpose of documenting my findings, I thought of finally going down the road once more to document my finding, for which I fear that someday, as Singapore a country with constant change and redevelopments, may eat up history and heritage once more.
Construction at the junction of Portsdown Avenue and Jalan Hang Jebat.
Construction at the junction of Portsdown Avenue and Jalan Hang Jebat.

Background

Jalan Hang Jebat depicted in 1981 maps. Credits: http://hm.onemap.sg/
It is interesting to note that Singapore has a road dedicated to Hang Jebat, one of Melaka's legendary warriors in Malay folklore. It seems that the origins of the road name led to a mosque at the end of he road, the namesake "Masjid Hang Jebat". It was named in recognition of the Malay Regiment's nearby Hang Jebat military installation, which in turn was named in commemoration of Hang Jebat, who was one of the five legendary warriors in the Malay folklore.

Jalan Hang Jebat

Jalan Hang Jebat, September 2015
Jalan Hang Jebat today is a minor road off Portsdown Avenue, houses several blocks of colonial terrace houses and a mosque at the end of the road. The road surface is littered with leaves from the overgrown trees along the roadside and some parts contained cracks and portholes. A portion of the road end contains a smaller concrete path that leads towards the end and the mosque. The surrounding undisturbed greenery instantly transports you back in time as nostalgic views of the past quickly comes to mind thanks to the colonial terraces and lush greenery lined up along the road.
Jalan Hang Jebat, September 2015
Entry into Jalan Hang Jebat from Portsdown Avenue
Portsdown Avenue street sign.

Portsdown Road Taxi Kiosk

Located right after you enter Jalan Hang Jebat lies an old shipping container that was once a Taxi Kiosk. Probably similar to the ones in Boon Lay Gardens and Sembawang Hills Estates, I presumed that before the evident of mobile phones and pagers, this taxi kiosk served as a gathering point for taxi drivers to get cab bookings.
Behind the vegetation lies the former Portsdown Road Taxi Kiosk
Portsdown Road Taxi Kiosk
Portsdown Road Taxi Kiosk
Today, as with all the taxi kiosks in Singapore, it no longer oprates as such. Instead it currently serves as a place for construction workers to take their break at the nearby road project.

Colonial Terraces at Jalan Hang Jebat

Self explanatory on the signboard, the terraces were built by the British from the 1930s to house British personnel working the nearby military installations. These terraces were once homes for junior ranking officers from the British Armed Forces.

A sign with a description of the colonial terraces.
Colonial terraces at Jalan Hang Jebat
Colonial terraces at Jalan Hang Jebat
Colonial terraces at Jalan Hang Jebat
When the British withdrew from Singapore in 1971, the houses were handed over to the Singapore government and are rented out as private residences.

Colonial terraces at Jalan Hang Jebat
Colonial terraces at Jalan Hang Jebat
Colonial terraces at Jalan Hang Jebat
The colonial terraces really add to the historic charm of Jalan Hang Jebat, blending in with the surrounding flora, tall trees and hills, providing a calm and verdant sanctuary for the residents and passer-bys.

Masjid Hang Jebat

Built as a surau in 1952 to serve the solders of the Royal Malay Regiment. With the British forces leaving Singapore and the Royal Malay Regiment moving back to Malaysia, the surau was handed over to the Singapore government in 1971 and was later opened to public

A sign with a description of Masjid Hang Jebat
Masjid Hang Jebat entrance.
A sign adjacent to the entrance.
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The view of the building from the car park
Masjid Hang Jebat. September 2015
While the former KTM railway line was running behind it, it was also known as "the railway mosque". Nearby worshipers from Queenstown had to walk down the defunct Queens Crescent and cross the tracks to access the mosque. This tradition continues into today as worshipers still walk down the empty patch of land where the tracks once were. It was reported that in the 1970s and 80s, a few residents were hit by the KTM trains, much to the relief of worshipers and residents, KTM ceased operations in 2011.
The former KTM Railway behind the mosque. Now known as "The Greenway"
The mosque today has a mixture of old kampong charm and bits and pieces of stone walls and concrete modern facilities. The facilities are quite basic, but did feature upgraded toilets, air conditioned offices, classrooms for madrasahs and the prayer hall.
The extended praying area of the mosque.
Masjid Hang Jebat. September 2015
The 70's era grill.
The  grill up close with the "Masjid Hang Jebat" sign
Modern offices within Masjid Hang Jebat
Main prayer hall, featuring modern comforts.
The mosque's minbar.
"Jebat Cafe" The mosque's canteen where the regular worshipers gather.


Conclusion

A chicken at Masjid Hang Jebat
Once again, by documenting this, I hope to share and preserve my experiences. Singapore today is rapidly changing, but its still nice to know that there is still a bit of history and heritage left. The government may leave Jalan Hang Jebat alone due to the colonial terraces located along the road but as the demand for land for development grows, I only fear that developments could close in to the area, taking away the lush and rustic nature of the place and its identity, making it just another typical road in Singapore.

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