2.3) The History of Istana Jahar

Istana Raja Bendahara or Istana Jahar is the pride symbol of Kelantan Sultanate and its people since then and now. It is one of the remarkable palaces located at Kota Bharu City Centre. According to the Kelantan Museums Corporation, the erection of the palace was started at the end of the reign of Sultan Muhammad II (1837-1886) and completed in 1887 during the reign of Sultan Ahmad (1886-1889).  The palace was built as a wedding gift for Sultan Ahmad’s prince, Long Kundur, who later succeeded him as Sultan Muhammad III (1889-1890) (Saleh 1987).  The palace was named as Istana Raja Bendahara after the official title of the crown prince ‘ Raja Bendahara’ .During the reign of Sultan Muhammad III, the palace was used as an administrative centre for the state of Kelantan. Nevertheless, Sultan Muhammad III was on the throne for only one and a half years. Long Mansur, a brother of the late Sultan Muhammad III, was enthroned as the next Sultan. During the reign of Long Mansur, he used another palace as his official palace known as the Istana Balai Besar  ( The Central Palace). Historically (Since 1844)  Istana  Balai Besar  was the main administrative centre of the state. It works as place to hold the coronations, installations, investitures and many other ceremonies. This also accommodates the office of the Sultan. The Istana Raja Bendahara became a palace for Long Senik, a prince of the late Sultan Muhammad III.  In 1911, Long Senik became a Sultan of Kelantan also known as Sultan Muhammad IV. During the reign of Sultan Muhammad IV, the Istana Raja Bendahara was renovated several times. Sultan Muhammad IV had ascended the throne after the sudden death of Sultan Muhammad III. He has made the Istana Balai Besar (Central Palace) as his residence and Istana Jahar still in use for other purposes. The palace was named Istana Jahar after Sultan Muhammad IV’s visit of Singapore in 1911. The name Istana Jahar was given to that palace when a Jahar tree (The  leaf of Jahar tree usually used by the Indian in curry dishes, whereby its flowers are used by the Malays in the traditional Kelantanese food called as ‘kerabu’)   was planted in palace  the compound under the order of Sultan Muhammad IV. Since then the palace was famously known as the Istana Jahar.  Later, the palace was given to his son Tengku Ismail using the title Tengku Seri Indera Mahkota. After the death of Sultan Muhammad IV in 1920, Tengku Ismail replaced him with the title of Sultan Ismail and stayed at Istana Jahar, endowed by his late father. Later, Sultans of Kelantan which then as Sultan Ibrahim (1944-1960) and Sultan Yahya Petra (1961-1979) no longer resided at the Istana Jahar .

From the time of its completion, Istana Jahar has gone through several renovation and adaptive reuse processes. There was a time when the palace was left abandoned since the succeeded Sultans had their own palace of residence. The original Istana Jahar was revamped in 1965 after so many years of abandonment. During the time of Sultan Yahya Petra, the Istana Jahar was refurbished and reconstructed to its current form. After a few sets of renovation and refurbishment works, Sultan Ismail Petra has lend the Istana Jahar for Kelantan Museum Department for maintenance and Convert it become Kelantan State Museum , which was later converted to Kelantan Royal Ceremonies Museum.

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