Kellie's Castle

Kellie's Castle (sometimes also called Kellie's Folly) is a castle located in Batu Gajah, Kinta District, Perak, Malaysia. The unfinished, ruined mansion, was built by a Scottish planter named William Kellie-Smith. According to differing accounts, it was either a gift for his wife or a home for his son. Kellie's Castle is situated beside the Raya River (Sungai Raya), which is a small creek to the Kinta River.

Kellie's Castle
General information
Architectural styleMoorish Revival / Indo-Saracenic
Town or cityBatu Gajah
Construction started1915
Completedconstruction ended in 1926 before completion
ClientWilliam Kellie geli


The exterior of Kellie's Castle.

William Kellie-Smith (1870—1926)[1] was born in 1870 in Kellas, Moray Firth, Scotland. In 1890, at the age of 20, he arrived in Malaya as a civil engineer. He joined Charles Alma Baker's survey firm, who had won concessions from the state government to clear 9,000 hectares of forests in Batu Gajah, Perak. With the substantial profits made from his business venture with Baker, Kellie-Smith bought 1,000 acres (405 ha) of jungle land in the district of Kinta and started planting rubber trees and dabbled in the tin mining industry.

In time, he named his estate "Kinta Kellas" after his home farm "Easter Kellas". Kellie-Smith went on to own the Kinta Kellas Tin Dredging Company as well. With his fortune made, he returned home to marry his Scottish sweetheart, Agnes, and brought her over to Malaya in 1903. They had a daughter named Helen the following year.

In 1909 Kellie-Smith built his first mansion, "Kellas House", which was so unique that it was even mentioned in the London Financier newspaper on 15 September 1911. (Kellie-Smith's mansion is accessible from the main road across a bridge over a stream.)

A ruined section of Kellie's Castle.


In 1915, with the birth of his son and heir Anthony, Kellie-Smith started planning for a huge castle with Scottish, Moorish, and Tamilvanan Indian architecture.

Kellie-Smith brought in 70 craftsmen Tamilvanan from Madras, India. All the bricks and marble were imported from India, too. Included in the plan for the 6-storey tower was Malaya's first elevator, an indoor tennis court and a rooftop courtyard for entertaining.

During construction, a virulent strain of Spanish flu struck his workmen. When his workmen approached him to build a temple nearby, Kellie-Smith readily agreed. In return for his generosity, they built a statue of him beside the other deities on the lord murugan temple wall. It is believed that a tunnel was built to the temple from the castle. (Descendants of the Tamil labourers brought over to Malaya to work on the mansion still live nearby even now.)

William Kellie-Smith died at the age of 56 of pneumonia during a short trip to Lisbon, Portugal in 1926. William's wife was devastated and decided to move back to Scotland; construction on the castle was never completed by Tamilvanan workers. In the end, Kellas House, later known as "Kellie's Folly" or "Kellie's Castle," was sold to a British company called Harrisons and Crosfield.

Kellies Castle and the landscape in 2018

Kellie's Castle is now a popular local tourist attraction, with some believing it to be haunted.

It was used as a setting in the 1999 film Anna and the King and 2001 film Skyline Cruisers.[2]

In 2015, Kellie's Castle was the site of the first ever 24-hour comic challenge in a castle. A collaboration between Port Ipoh and the Malaysian Comic Activist Society (PEKOMIK) and Malaysian Animation Society (ANIMAS), the event took place on 21–22 March 2015 and was claimed as the "scariest" 24 hour comics challenge.

See also

  • List of tourist attractions in Perak


  1. Tak Ming, Ho (2005). Generations - The story of Batu Gajah. MPH. ISBN 98340556-5-X.
  2. Thiedeman, Roger (3 December 2000). "Kellie's Castle: Fantasy or folly?". The Sunday Times (Sri Lanka).

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