Malaysia Putrajaya is every bit the planned city, with swaths of hilly areas and greenery interspersed with modern infrastructure, writes SRAVASTI DATTA
As I key in “Putrajaya, Malaysia” in the Google search bar, the phrase “Welcome to Putrajaya, the intelligent garden city” pops up constantly. A sort of an impression is formed by me right away. I imagine Putrajaya to be a rigid combination of skyscrapers, glass and steel buildings with sprawling gardens and green fields. My impression isn’t too far from the truth. Only about 40 per cent of Putrajaya’s landscape is natural, the rest is man-made.
‘Disciplined’, ‘well-managed’ and ‘manicured’ aptly describe its landscape. The trees and shrubs are trimmed to precision, the boulevards impeccably designed. Even the street lamps seem to have been measured to a T. But I’m not complaining.
Putrajaya is — as the cliché goes — a perfect getaway from the hustle-bustle of big city life. It is, doubtless, a sharp contrast to Kuala Lumpur. Crowds are conspicuous by their absence, which really brought the poet alive in me as I found myself in a pensive mood often. First created in 1993, Putrajaya was declared Malaysia’s federal administrative centre in 1999. Taxis are the best mode of transport; buses ought to be avoided as they are infrequent. Various water bodies and wetlands wind their way through the boulevards and gardens. Among the lush greenery, major landmarks of the city stand in all its architectural splendour. It’s easy to mark out must-visit-places in Putrajaya. There’s Malaysia’s largest Botanical Garden or Taman Botani; Perdana Putra, the Prime Minister’s office; Seri Perdana, the Prime Minister’s residence; the Putra Masjid or mosque; the Istana Kehakiman or the Palace of Justice and the Putrajaya Lake.
The Taman Botani covers an area of 92 hectares. The garden is divided into three areas: flowers, ornamental or decorative plants and preservation of rare plants. Taman Botani has hundred species of plants, some indigenous others imported from places as far as Africa and the Asia Pacific. Walking through its premises, a immediate connection is formed with Nature.
The Perdana Putra glints under the glare of the afternoon sun. In the evenings, it looks even grander for the many lights that illuminate it. An amalgamation of Islamic, Malay and European architecture, the Perdana
Putra has a distinct look to it for its lime green dome and many clay-coloured buildings.
Similar to the Perdana Putra is the Prime Minister’s residence, the Seri Perdana. The Istana Kehakiman or the Palace of Justice, true to its name, is relatively sober-looking, yet imposing. The Putra mosque or Masjid Putra, which has the tallest minaret in southeast Asia and is famous for its Souq Bazaar, looks pristine in pretty pink. It is built across the Putrajaya Lake, which lends an ethereal feel to the structure. The Putrajaya International Convention Centre is unique for its rooftop, shaped like that of a Malay royal belt buckle, and its criss-cross designed gardens. I’ve left the best for the last. Formed by the merging of five confluences at the North, Putrajaya, a vast expanse of crystal blue, is a 650-hectare man-made lake. A cruise ride gives a spectacular view of the city.