Geoff’s awe-inspiring tales of the wonders of Putrajaya convinced us to hire a car for the day and drop by for a few hours before continuing on to Melaka. There was enough time, he assured us.
At 7:30 in the morning, all five of us were piled in a rented blue Avanza driven by Tony which only cost RM350 for 10 hours; cheap by Malaysian standards. It was still early and there were hardly any cars on the highway so it took only around an hour and a half to this city in Selangor state.
Putrajaya is spankingly clean, new, and beautiful. It looks like a Disney park of wonderful modernist Islam-inspired architecture. The roads are wide and there are beautiful views from everywhere. Except for some high-rise residences being developed in one area, Putrajaya is largely home to government offices. If Malaysia intends to show-off its wealth and rapidly progressing step towards 21st century modernity, then they’ve succeeded with this sparkling city. Even the street lamps look futuristic.
As we drove through the city, marveling one building to the next, we all commented that this would be a great area to go to work to.
One of the most beautiful buildings was the Putra Mosque with its pink domes and 5-tiered minaret that dramatically rose against the gun-metal sky. It stood grandly overlooking a placid lake. Nearby was a shopping and dining complex but the establishments were still closed.
At 9:30 sharp we were allowed to enter the courtyard with its gleaming tiled floors and the prayer hall. There were few visitors due to the early hour.
Shoes had to be removed and placed in racks along the corridor while women had to wear pink robes with a hood that completely covered the head. We only realized it’s significance when an attendant patrolling the mosque pointed at Jeannette’s head when her hood fell off exposing her hair.
The prayer hall was even more breath-taking with its huge chandeliers, columns, and cupolas. Light streaming-in from the windows and doorways illuminated its magnificence. What I love most about Islamic art is its beautiful use of abstraction. Geometric figures blend seamlessly blend into each other to create pretty pictures that are so pleasing to the eye and breathe life into bare walls, ceilings, and floors .