Don’t get us wrong, as much as we love our BTOs and HDBs, it’s hard to imagine anything surprising about them. Modern neighbourhoods are highly predictable: childcare la, RC la, small playground la, you get the gist. But once in a while, a little HDB secret gets uncovered and leaves us stupefied. Enter Keramat Bukit Kasita, a royal shrine in the Bukit Purmei neighbourhood.
“How even -” you may ask. Ditto, we had the same question too. Some say the grave holds the descendants of Sang Nila Utama, others say it’s more than 300 years old. While the shrine isn’t open to the public, we managed to get a peek inside for the curious:
Image credit: Google Maps
You can find Keramat Bukit Kasita on Google Maps, but there are no reviews and only a 360-degree street view of a car park to provide any sort of insight. It’s rather intriguing that something in the heart of our concrete jungle can remain ever-so-mysterious. Yet, we have this obscure resting ground that only a handful knows about.
According to records, the gravesite holds the remains of several prominent people in history. This includes Sultan Abdul Rahman II, the last sultan of the Riau-Lingga Sultanate. Abdul Rahman II found himself in Singapore after he was exiled for going against the Dutch in 1911. Unfortunately, not much is known about what he did during his time here, but some sources say lost his fortune and passed away in 1930.
If you look into the family tree, Sultan Abdul Rahman II’s bloodline also traces back to Sang Nila Utama, the 13th-century Srivijayan prince from Palembang. Yes, the very same Sang Nila Utama who founded Singapore in the 12th century.
Kampung hut near the shrine.
Today, Keramat Bukit Kasita is said to house anywhere from 50-200 tombs – with the oldest grave said to be from 1721. Most of the tombs are located within a walled compound – and it’s only accessible to descendants of the deceased. But go around the kampung hut, and you’ll come across a smaller group of tombs covered in green cloth.
Keramat Bukit Kasita is many things – an unexpected find in the heartlands, a lesser-known religious landmark, and a final resting place for royalties from a 19th century Sultanate . A single caretaker looks after the space today, and she has shared with us that the public is not allowed to access the space. If you happen to be in Bukit Purmei and want to kaypoh a bit, do be considerate and avoid crowding the area.
Getting there: Take bus 61,124,143 or 166 to “Opposite Keppel DP Blk 519”. From there, walk to Bukit Purmei Blk 102, which is next to the shrine.
Address: 532 Kampong Bahru Road, Singapore 099456
For more hidden things to do in Singapore:
Photography by Huiwen Chan.
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