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According to available evidence, Batu Gajah already existed around the 1870s.According to the diary J. W.W. Birch, the first British Resident in Perak. He had visited the Batu Gajah on 30 April 1875. He called Batu Gajah as a large village on the banks of Sungai Kinta and there is a huge furnace to melt tin.


‘… at 4.15, we arrived at Batugaja on the left bank, a large and fine village
where the soil is very good. There are about 30 or 40 houses, and a large
smelting house.' (1)


It shows the early development of Batu Gajah is closely associated with tin mining activity which began to grow in the Kinta District at the time. Batu Gajah is a name taken from a stone that resembles an elephant. Several versions have been reported.

According to the first version, when the ore began to be found in Batu Gajah, many foreign merchants coming from Sumatra by the Kinta River to trade tin. They are all Buddhists who worship idols. Because the place has not been named, they have carved out two rocks in the Kinta River resembles the shape of two elephants. Later, the stone had been placed on the banks of the Kinta River for two purposes. First, to help them recognize the place and they may be a place of worship.

 

‘This stone is addressed as the Toh Gaja, and everyone passing is supposed to pluck a
Handful of grass or leaes, and striking the Toh Gaja seven times on the bres with them,
To ask him for fine weather for the journey'

 

The second version by the elderly, in the past there was a creature called The Kelembai (Gelembai or Gedembai). This creature is said to have the power to transform living things into stone when he was reprimanded. At that time, the area covered by a thick forest where wild elephants roam freely. One day, two elephants are crossing the Kinta River was reprimanded by The Kelembai and a rock in the form of two stone elephants are still found in the Kinta River near Kampung Pisang, but he nearly lost due to erosion and mining activity. (3) The story of this legend has not been validated or otherwise.

The third version of the events associated with tin mining. Initially, the mining of ore is controlled by Malays. Their employees are Chinese. During mining, they found the stones at the elephant and as hard as the head of an elephant. Miners was later named the area with the stones 'Batu Gajah' (Big Stone).   

It should be noted that the elephant is not something foreign to the Malays. The biggest land animals have been used extensively as transport vehicles or land in the Malay states until the early 1910's. In royal processions, elephant team that brought howdah*colorfully decorated usually accompanied by juak-juak+ a beautiful dress to bring the tools of greatness and the royal umbrella. In addition, elephants are also used in the work of harvesting and transport equipment revenue and tin mining in the Kintadistrict.   

Call the name 'Batu Gajah'began when he was visited by people from the tribe of Batak, Kurinci, Selayang, Bugis, Coal, Kampar and Mendailing. They came up the boat or sekuci, boats and cargo through the mouth of Sungai Perak Kinta River to continue to bring essential goods miners and villagers. Travel from Telok Anson (Teluk Intan) to Batu Gajah typically takes four to five days. Upon arriving in a village, the gong is sounded to attract customers. Kampar people carrying a black cloth, shrimp paste, a white silk cloth, swamps (batik), tobacco, palm roofs and peda fish (preserved fish) for sale. On the way back they will go to transport ore.   

Batu Gajah is located in Sungai Terap district, which is one of a district in the Kinta District. In the beginning, in the parishes of the River holding Apply Dato' Amar di Raja.He was the Big 16 under the auspices of Dato' Panglima Kinta. Between Dato' Amar, Dato'Amar famous is Tok Amar Naam, Tok Amar Abu Kassim and Tok Pandak Akhat. Tok Amar Naamwas appointed by the Sultan Ismail, who was based in his administration Cempka Island Way in 1872, before the start of British intervention in Perak. After Amar Naam Tok died, his son has taken over Tok Amar Abu Kassim. At that time, the British have come to abolish the right to be brought in the local Malay chiefs to collect taxes and administrative affairs in their areas. Tok Amar Kassim is a pious and leaders who will not bow to the British administration. The office was then held by Tok Amar Pandak Akhat. The British have made the Malay chiefs as staff. Dato' Amar Pandak Akhat has given the consolation of $ 1.050 per month. This is because his good offices to resolve the problem of fighting the Chinese on board.However, at the end of his life, he only receives a pension of $ 500 per month. (4) The role of Dato' Amar Raja becomes less important when the Batu Gajah as the administrative center of the province of British Kinta in 1892. However, as the Malay chiefs, he still has the special and unique among the local population.

Becoming Colonial Center

Initially, Old Town (River Street) near Sungai Kinta is the focus of the public. This is where a row of wooden shop houses first built. Some of the shop owned by the Malays. There is also a police station to maintain the security of the area. As in other settlements where many Chinese have settled, special homes for gambling and smoking opium available in Old Town.

River Road is still important and retention Perau (Prau)in the old town became a place of loading the goods and the results of the tin so that the transport system was developed. The first railway was built linking Batu Gajah - Ipoh as far as 8 miles 72 chains in 1893, and Batu Gajah - Kota Bharu as far as 5 miles 44 chains in 1894. (5) By tahun1895, Batu Gajah is accessible by rail to the TelukAnson. Railway transport services have facilitated the export of tin ore to the port of Batu Gajah to pelabuhan Teluk Anson. Construction of the railway has brought major changes to the development in Batu Gajah. By the end of the 1090's, many began building new stores built in the New Town area near the railway station and leads to Changkat. Business in the New Town area of Batu Gajah was then ruled by the Chinese and Indians. By the year 1905, Batu Gajah described by Belfield as 'IMPORTANT mining and commercial town' in the province of Kinta. (6)

Batu Gajah role as the central province of Kinta can be seen from the construction of government offices during the 1880s in the surrounding Changkat. Kinta district office building was built in 1892, ebuti Mendailin.