The River of Life: heart and soul of Kuala Lumpur

We are at the confluence of the Gombak and Klang rivers, in the original heart of Kuala Lumpur. All around is a modern take on the heritage of the area, with easily accessible pedestrian areas designed with the visitor in mind. There is plenty of space just to sit and observe, or pose for pics.

My working soul is firmly embedded in this part of Kuala Lumpur having been employed as Landscape Project Manager in 2015 to work on ‘The River of Life’, a Federal Government funded project to beautify the river corridors of KL. A near 10,000 sweaty steps a day was the normal activity gaining intimate knowledge of this place, with works going right to the mosque walls and all around this historic precinct.

This area being completed in 2018, now has the benefit of five years of rapid tropical plant growth that to the uninitiated appears to have been here for a long time. That is the way it should be.

River of Life 7 - Happy Go KL

Early morning light and mist are casting an ethereal glow over the river, as the eyes drift upwards and outwards to the minarets, domes, wall murals and cityscape nearby. Green lushness of now well established trees and shrubs provides a potential cooling solace to a sunny and hot day to come.

The river mist is courtesy of micro-misting water jets along the river, with a large fountain display at the base of Masjid Jamek’s river steps.

A historical place in Kuala Lumpur

River of Life - Happy Go KL

We’re on the lookout platform just off Leboh Pasar Besar looking upriver towards Masjid Jamek, which was established in 1909. Just to the left is Panggung Bandaraya with its black domes – completed in 1904 – and further left the iconic Sultan Abdul Samad building (BSAS) with its distinctive large copper dome, completed in 1897. The influence of Moorish influenced architecture can be found in every micro-detail of these heritage structures. Cantik! (Meaning ‘beautiful’ in Bahasa Malaysia). 

On your right you can observe a wonderful three-story wall mural, depicting aspects of early Malaysian rural and city life. There are so many wonderful details to absorb within these vivid colours.  

River of Life 9 - Happy Go KL
River of Life 3 - Happy Go KL

A nice stroll

You could start your walk at the Leboh Pasar Besar lookout facing Masjid Jamek, and continue left past the historic buildings up to the arched pedestrian bridge – near the ‘Bandar Raya 50 years’ cube sculpture – towards the mosque. If time allows, you could stop at the mosque and explore its grounds. Dress modestly or hire one of their visitor gowns for a reasonable price.

Keep walking past the mosque in front of the LRT station and turn right at the end of the station down past the HSBC building, staying next to the river and the boardwalk that takes you down next to the mural walls back to the lookout.

If you still have time, take in the sights around Dataran Merdeka (Independence Square) and the Library precinct including the historic St Mary’s Church (1894) and the Royal Selangor Club, all at walkable distance. Another great place to visit is the National Textile Museum, just around the corner at 26 Jalan Sultan Hishamuddin.

Kuala Lumpur

There are many choices for your route, especially if you arrive by train at LRT station Masjid Jamek, and you can’t get lost. It is truly a relaxing and fulfilling experience for the whole family to enjoy at their own pace.

Tips and how to get there

  • At night the River of Life really comes to life, with a combination of fountain and misting display and synchronised lighting displays to top it off.
  • For families with strollers, it’s good to know that 90% of the area is accessible. There are steps only on the mural side near the Leboh Pasar Basar end.
  • LRT station Masjid Jamek is right on the doorstep. LRT/MRT station Pasar Seni is a five-minute walk away on the other side of Central Market.
  • You can also park at ‘Dataran Underground’ Carpark, which is a five-minute walk away underneath Dataran Merdeka, off Jalan Raja on the non-river side of BSAS.

If your kids are into exploring more areas in Kuala Lumpur, have a look here at our post for a day out at KLCC.

River of Life 4 - Happy Go KL

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