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Sunday, January 24, 2010

The Blue Mosque of Shah Alam

The mosque at Shah Alam, the famous Sultan Salahuddin Abdul Aziz Shah Mosque or Blue Mosque, is famed as one of the largest on earth.  Indeed, at one time it held the records for the tallest minarets and largest dome and is one of the largest domes in the world at 170 feet in diameter and 350 feet high.  While those records have been surpassed (I understand a mosque in Casablanca has taller minarets, now), it is still an impressive visit although a bit of a challenge to get to.

Visiting the mosque and the somewhat sleepy and conservative Shah Alam, capitol of Selangor state.  Shah Alam is located about 25km south west of Kuala Lumpur. It replaced Kuala Lumpur as the state capital of Selangor when Kuala Lumpur became a Federal Territory. It is a planned city with modern buildings, parks and beautifully landscaped roads. It was granted the city status on October 10, 2000 with a current population of about a half million residents.

The very best option for travel is to take a KTM commuter train to the Shah Alam station (toward Port Klang) from the KL Sentral Terminal in Kuala Lumpur.  The painful part is you must take a taxi both to and from the commuter train terminal, there being no easy or timely way to avoid this inconvenience.  You can also take the RapidKL bus number 63 or 338 from Kuala Lumpur and stop at the bus station near the Maybank building in Shah Alamat the city center. From here, you have to take a taxi to the mosque area. You'll have to return there in order to get back to KL or you can always head to the train station.  We found that waiting for buses (and knowing where and when to catch them) was too painful of an experience.  After waiting at the Pasar Seni bus station and hour, we decided to take the train and got there much more quickly.

Be aware once arriving at the mosque there is a specific entrance for non-Muslim, tourist visitors, and proper etiquette, like removing your shoes, are still expected of you. 

The mosque is stunning.  The huge blue dome that gives the Blue Mosque its name is made of aluminum covered with enameled steel plates.  The calligraphy, a rosette of verses from the Qur'an.  Enjoy your visit, and try your best to get a symmetrical photo!


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