|The Lukut Massacres
In 1834, Raja Busu decided to impose a ten per cent levy on
tin extracted and exported from Lukut. This greatly angered the local
miners, as well as their financial backers in Melaka. One dark, rainy
in September, 1834, this anger erupted into rage when some 300-400
converged upon Raja Busu's palace and surrounded it, angrily shouting
demanding that he either come out or they would set fire to his home.
Busu defiantly shouted back "Muslims are not afraid to die - do what
Upon hearing this, the mob attacked
the Palace and the houses of Malays nearby,
with hundreds being robbed and killed. Not a single soul in the palace
In the words of Isabella Bird, "these miners rose upon their
burned their houses, and massacred them indiscriminately, including
enlightened Rajah; and his wife and children, in attempting to escape,
thrown into the flames of their house. The plunder obtained by the
exclusive of the jewels and gold ornaments of the women, was estimated
3,500 pounds. This very atrocious business was believed to have been
and abetted, if not absolutely concocted, by Chinese merchants living
the shelter of the British flag at Malacca."
The fort is located on the summit of a hill known as Bukit
Gajah Mati (Hill
of the Dead Elephant) or Bukit Raja, and was accessible by a winding
from the foot of the hill. The fort overlooks Lukut town and gave an
view of the Lukut river, its surroundings and even the Straits of
Built by convict labour, it was square in shape and measured
200 metres by 170 metres.
Its red laterite stone walls were surrounded by a moat eight
wide and between eight to ten metres deep. A forest of bamboo stakes
planted at the bottom of the moat and the barricaded stone walls were
with the latest Dutch-made cannons. Cannon were also placed at the main
to the fort, on the north wall, and a smaller entrance on the west
The fort was further enlarged and fortified during the reign
Raja Bot, Raja Jumaat's son, and the Malay garrison stationed there was
with the employment of 30 Arab mercenaries. A 'sepak raga' court within
fort provided the garrison with sporting entertainment.
The British Resident of Melaka, Captain MacPherson, reported that the troops in Kota Lukut wore uniforms similar to those found in Melaka and that their conduct was "very orderly and disciplined"
A palace was built in the middle of the Fort for Raja Wok, the
of Raja Jumaat. Water pools were located at each corner of the fort's
which were replenished with water brought from the river up to the fort
However, the royal household had exclusive use
of a walled well, called the
Princess' Well, which was under guard at all times. Another well
outside the fort was called the Perigi Beracun or Poisoned Well, and
used for the execution of criminals, who were lowered down the shaft
a deadly mix of water, latex and poisonous tree saps.
Raja Jumaat's reign was one of peace and growing
prosperity and ended with
his death in 1864. During Raja Bot's reign, however, Raja Sulaiman of
Raya attempted to overrun Lukut, resulting in the fort being used as a
for women and children fleeing hostilities.
A battle ensued at Kampong Cina and Raja Bot's forces had to
to the fort when every one his Arab mercenaries fled the field after
one of their number
was killed in the fighting. However, the fort's Malay defenders
back Raja Sulaiman's assault and he was forced to flee back to Sungai
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