Kellie’s Castle is a grand mansion built in 1915 that has since been abandoned halfway through its construction.
The first time I heard of this place was back in school. It was listed in the textbook as one of the places to visit in Malaysia during the school holidays.
Although I never did visit, I watched multiple videos of “ghostbusters” from other countries experiencing the supernatural at that place, like this one called Haunting Kellie’s Castle (The Paranormal Zone).
How true were those videos? I could not tell. However, the possibility of encountering a ghost really enticed me.
When my friend, Abby and her boyfriend invited me to be the third-wheel to their adventure, I said yes! I finally had the perfect reason and the chance to tour the mansion.
Here’s what I found.
What It’s Like From the Outside
After driving through a rather peppy town, we arrived at Kellie’s Castle in Batu Gajah, Perak. As I grunted and got out of the car, I turned around and there it was — a majestic castle standing right before my eyes.
Built with bricks of brown and ivory, Kellie’s Castle boasts a history dating back over a century. I was in awe, having caught sight of the flags waving when the wind blew… Well, until I was interrupted.
“It’s gonna take us forever lah!” Abby exclaimed, looking at the car park chock-full with cars.
Seeing the amount of visitors on that day, I gave up on any hope of stumbling upon William Kellie’s ghostly spirit. So we lined up, got our tickets and marched inside with the crowd.
I slowed my steps, letting my friends walk way ahead of me as we crossed a bridge with good aesthetics built across the Raya River to get to the castle. The river was wide and brown while the waters were slow-moving.
Entering William’s Unfulfilled Dreams
I noticed my friends taking pictures under the blinding sun from afar so I had to pick up the pace. Before long, I arrived at a large flight of stairs leading to the manor. Boy, was I pumped!
What really happened here? How did they build this? How many people were part of this?
Observing the details of the impeccably built Scottish mansion, I felt my chest engulfed with an overwhelming sense of second-hand regret.
Oh, what a triumph of architecture this could have been!
The Hollow Rooms
As I entered the building, I brushed my fingers over every detail of the building. The walls, the bricks, the mortar between the gaps…
I continued walking along the corridors and then I noticed a strange feeling was taking over me. A sudden shiver was crawling up my spine and my bare arms were feeling chilly.
Was it from the materials of the walls that caused a sudden drop in temperature? Or was it something else?
I jeered at myself for wanting to go on ghostly adventures, but now feeling like a coward. In all honesty, my self-admonishment was a miserable attempt to calm myself down and brush off the creepy ideas I’ve brought to my own head.
Out of nowhere, sounds of children laughing echoed around the walls, and my heart just dropped that instant! Well, it turned out to be some really excited children’s laughter echoing from the other floors.
How many scares can I take in one day? I had to pull my gutless self together and keep going.
Pretty soon, I came to the bedrooms of the Smiths.
William Kellie Smith, the man behind this castle was supposed to live here along with his wife, daughter and son, but he died before the mansion could be completed.
I felt heavily for them. The thought of all the hopes and visions they had as a family overwhelmed me as I stood in silence, inspecting the spaces.
One space connected to the other. Scouting for something impressive in these rooms made me feel like I was going through a maze.
It was as if it was made that way so that they would stay connected as a family despite sleeping in separate rooms.
Outside these rooms was the corridor where visitors would not miss posing for a picture. I could not understand how some people were all jolly taking pictures there because it was unpleasant for me.
I felt like someone was watching me. I turned around but there was no one. I guess it was time for me to leave that area.
The Wine Cellar & The Fragmentary Elevator
After a little more exploring, I found a dark and tiny room. When I entered it, I was spooked out. There were racks built against the wall, and I learnt that it was a wine cellar.
The racks somehow resembled columbariums, the storage for cremated remains in urns. That was what freaked me out a little.
I had to leave the room quickly as more people started to come in. The room was so small that I was starting to feel claustrophobic.
I continued exploring the castle until something rather unusual caught my eye. Out of all the brick structures, there was something made of metal and it looked like a cage. What was odd about it was that it did not have a floor, and it passed through all four levels of the castle.
Turns out, it was supposed to be an elevator! In fact, that very elevator was meant to be the first-ever elevator in Malaya.
What’s Above & Below?
Soon, I found a spiral stairway with steps that are only about 18 centimetres wide. I was taken aback by the lack of safety features to prevent falls. No secure railings, no fencing, nothing!
I tip-toed all the way up, silently praying that I don’t fall. Unfortunately for the people behind me, I took my sweet time to get to the rooftop.
My legs started feeling like jelly as I caught a glimpse of the scenery from the top.
Abby thought it was funny to nudge me playfully as I tried to look down. Feeling flustered, I shot her a death glare. I could actually fall off and that would be the end of me!
That push she gave made me doubt our friendship for a little bit.
It was really breezy so we decided to stay on for a little while. We could have used the rest from all that walking.
Then it was time to go down that same flight of stairs. This time, we were set to go all the way down, further below than where we entered, into the dungeons.
It was getting darker as we kept going, to the point where we had to stop ourselves because we could not see what was ahead of us.
We were spooked out. If you wondered, no, we CHOSE not to use our flashlights because we were chickens! Cold, dark and eerie? No, thanks.
A Marvel Of Architecture
I was pretty fascinated with how the spiral stairway connected two contrasting concepts. On one end was the airy rooftop which was meant for social parties, while the other end was an underground dungeon believed to be a hiding spot in case of emergencies.
The ideas put into the architecture of this castle really left me puzzled.
The style of architecture had hints of Mughal-Gothic influences, prominent in India, along with the Moorish Revival style used in Spain, used decades before its prime.
Mr. Smith included not only his fascinations, but also the cultural identities of the Indian workers he had hired to build his dream castle.
Oh, William, you must be a heck of a daydreamer.
It’s unfortunate how he passed from pneumonia while on his way to Portugal to collect parts of the lift he intended to build. The mansion would have been a six-storey home for his family.
When it was time to leave
I walked into this mansion expecting to leave with a confirmed story about a ghost. What I did not expect was how hard this visit would hit me.
Exploring someone’s unfulfilled visions changed my perception about life entirely. I used to think that things could wait and my time would come.
In actuality, life is catching up and there really isn’t much time to wait around for our dreams to happen. So I say, go for whatever it is that you want in life and go for it fast.
Get that degree. Hit that million. Find that smile. Build that freaking castle!
For more stories like this one, read: I Explored Tanjung Rambutan’s Mental Asylum – Here’s What It’s Really Like and 5 Best Places to Take Photographs in Malaysia.