Muar town is known as Bandar Maharani (Empress Town), a name given by the late Sultan Sir Abu Bakar in 1884. It’s might not be as famous as the Unesco World Heritage sites of Malacca and George Town but it, too, has a rich past and its fair share of old buildings.
Bandar Maharani a Royal Town
In November 2012, the present Johor ruler, Sultan Ibrahim Ibni Almarhum Sultan Iskandar, declared Bandar Maharani a royal town or Bandar DiRaja.
With the royal town status, Muar has joined others in the country, namely Klang in Selangor, Pahang’s Pekan, Arau in Perlis, Anak Bukit in Kedah and Seri Menanti in Negri Sembilan.
Bandar Maharani has rows of well-preserved heritage buildings built between 1900 and the 1950s with Chinese, English and Malay architectural elements. The date when the buildings were constructed can be easily identified as they are displayed on the exterior.
These buildings portray Muar’s prosperous past and include the Abu Bakar Building completed in 1929 that houses the town’s administrative offices, the Customs buildings in 1909, Sultan Ibrahim Jamek Mosque in 1927 and Muar High School in 1915.
Muar State Railways (MSR)
Muar also is unique for having its own railway network known as Muar State Railways (MSR), operating just four years after the first railway line of the country from Taiping to Port Weld was inaugurated in 1885. The railway operated from 1889 to 1925 linking Jalan Sulaiman in Bandar Maharani and Sungai Pulai for a distance of 22.5km.
A relic from the Muar State Railway (or MSR), is displayed in a landscaped area near Tanjung Emas recreational park.
Muar High School
Muar High School was founded in 1902 as a government English school. It is among the oldest schools in Johor and has produced many famous names including former Johor Menteri Besar the late Tan Sri Osman Saat, International Trade and Industry Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin and Johor Mentri Besar Datuk Abdul Ghani Othman.
Sultan Ibrahim Jamek Mosque
Construction of Sultan Ibrahim Jamek Mosque on the Muar riverbank in Jalan Petri was begun in 1920 and completed in 1927 at a cost of RM10,000. It is noted for its four-storey minaret in its backyard and a worship place that depicts European-classical and Islamic architectural influences.
Sultan Abu Bakar Building
Passers-by in Jalan Mejidi will not miss the Sultan Abu Bakar building (built in 1921) as it is a replica of the Istana Besar or Grand Palace of Johor Baru, which is now the Johor Royal Museum. It houses the Muar Land Office and District Office.