A good place to start your Alor Setar Heritage Trail is at the Birthplace of Dato’ Seri Dr. Mahathir Bin Mohdmmad who was Malaysia’s longest serving Prime Minister from 1981 – 2003.
As Prime Minister he was often controversial but there is no doubt he was an energetic and visionary leader and Malaysia’s economic standing in the world improved greatly during his tenure. It is interesting to see the humble home where he was brought up. The newer galleries next to his old home contain personal belongings and memorabilia from Dr. Mahathir’s schooldays, medical career, married life and his time in politics.
Nearby is the Balai Besar (Great Hall or Main Hall). This unique hall was built in 1898 to replace an earlier one which had been destroyed by Bugis and Siamese invaders. Its design contains elements of Thai and Malay architecture.
It forms part of a larger palace complex (Istana Kota Star). The palace is behind the Balai Besar and is now a museum, Muzium Diraja (Royal Museum).