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Balai Besar, or Great Hall, is a heritage structure in Alor Setar, Kedah, Malaysia. The original structure dates back to the founding of Alor Star in 1735, and was built by Alor Star's founder, Sultan Muhammad Jiwa Zainal Abidin (1710-1778), the 19th ruler of the Kedah Sultanate, as the Balai Rong Seri, or Audience Hall. I visited it while documenting the sights in Alor Star for AsiaExplorers.

Balai Besar, Alor Star, Kedah.

The Balai Besar was destroyed and rebuilt a few times. It was brought down by the Bugis invasion of 1770, and the same happened in the Siamese invasion in 1821. The present structure dates back to 1893, during the reign of Sultan Abdul Hamid Halim Shah.

In 1904, the Balai Besar was the venue of a lavish wedding ceremonies for the Sultan's five eldest sons and daughters. The extravagant affair lasted three months, from June to September, and almost bankrupted the state.

The Balai Besar was also the venue of the installation of a new sultan, namely Sultan Ahmad Tajuddin Halim Shah II (1804-1845) and Tuanku Sultan Haji Abdul Halim Mu'adzam Shah on 20 February 1959.

How to go to Balai Besar

Balai Besar is located along Jalan Pekan Melayu, just face to face with Masjid Zahir, in the middle of the city of Alor Star.

Balai Besar Photo Gallery

Closer view of Balai Besar.

Another view of the front façade of Balai Besar.

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