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Grand Audience Hall (Balai Besar)

By Dato' Hj. Wan Shamsudin Mohd Yusof
(Translated by Syed Zulfilda S.M. Noor)

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Initially the function of the building was the Balai Rong Seri or Balai Penghadapan (audience hall), that was situated at the back area of the Kota Setar Palace complex. The original building was built in 1735 by HRH Sultan Muhammad Jiwa Zainal Adilin Muazzam Shah, the 19th Sultan of Kedah (1710-1778). The pillars, roofs and floors were made of wood.

This building was destroyed due to attacks by the Bugis armada (1770) and Siam (1821). During the reign of HRH Sultan Abdul Hamid Halim Shah, the 26th Sultan of Kedah (1882-1943), this building was refurbished (1896) spearheaded by Muhammad bin Lebai Tambi, an architect with the Public Works Department of Kedah State for the wedding ceremony of His Royal Highness's five princes and princesses (1904).

Beside the wedding ceremony, the Balai Besar was used for
installation ceremonies, official ceremonies, State Council Conferences since 1905 until 1973.

Two Kedah Sultans were officially installed at the Balai Besar:
HRH Sultan Ahmad Tajuddin Halim Shah II, the 22nd Sultan of Kedah (1804-1845) in 1805 and HRH Tuanku Sultan Haji Abdul Halim Mu'adzam Shah on 20th February, 1959.

Design of the building

The design of the Balai Besar is of the characteristics of a Malay
house with lengthy roof. On the left and right sections of the Balai
Besar are the verandahs. The verandah at the right side of the throne
was the area for the Ministers' children, warriors and official officers'
children as well as the good citizens. The left verandah was the area
for the religious men, merchants and the good citizens. The centre
area of the balai (hall) was the place for "the children of the palace",
those who held the royal regalia together with the ministers and main
government officers in accordance to individual status right up to
the ordinary people.

The pillars and cross-beams were made of the highest quality of
cengal wood from the state of Kedah. The roofs were made of rumbia
(a type of palm-tree). Two large staircases were built in front of the
Balai Besar, left and right ascending to the grand hall, rumah tangga,
right verandah, left verandah as well as the pavilion, the throne and the
Balai Siak located at the utmost back section of the bulding.

presented by:

Kedah State Public
Library Corporation

Funded by:
Demonstrator Applications Grant Scheme (DAGS) of the National IT Council (NITC) Malaysia

Supported by:
Kedah State Government

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