Alor Setar

Alor Setar (Jawi: الور ستار, Kedahan: Loqstaq), known as Alor Star from 2004 to 2008,[2] is the state capital of Kedah, Malaysia.[3] It is the second-largest city in the state after Sungai Petani and one of the most-important cities on the west coast of Peninsular Malaysia.[4] It sits along the country's longest expressway, located 400 km (250 mi) from Kuala Lumpur and 79 km (49 mi) north of George Town, Penang. The city is home to the Central State Administration Centre and is the administrative centre of Kota Setar District.

Alor Setar
City of Alor Setar
Bandaraya Alor Setar
Other transcription(s)
 • Jawiالور ستار
 • Chinese亚罗士打 (Simplified)
亞羅士打 (Traditional)
 • Tamilஅலோர் சேதார்
Flag of Alor Setar
Official seal of Alor Setar
Bandaraya warisan dalam taman
"Heritage city in the garden"
Location of Alor Setar in Kedah
Alor Setar is located in Kedah
Alor Setar
Alor Setar
   Alor Setar in    Malaysia
Alor Setar is located in Malaysia
Alor Setar
Alor Setar
Alor Setar (Malaysia)
Alor Setar is located in Asia
Alor Setar
Alor Setar
Alor Setar (Asia)
Coordinates: 06°07′06″N 100°22′10″E / 6.11833°N 100.36944°E / 6.11833; 100.36944Coordinates: 06°07′06″N 100°22′10″E / 6.11833°N 100.36944°E / 6.11833; 100.36944
CountryMalaysia Malaysia
StateKedah Kedah
DistrictKota Setar
State capital status24 May 1888
Municipality status1 February 1978
City status21 December 2003
Founded bySultan Muhammad Jiwa Zainal Adilin II
 • MayorMohd Zohdi Saad
 • Total666.0 km2 (257.14 sq mi)
7 m (23 ft)
 • Total405,523
 • Density608.89/km2 (1,577.0/sq mi)
Demonym(s)Alor Setarian
Time zoneUTC+8 (MST)
 • Summer (DST)Not observed
Postal code
International dialling code prefix+6047 (landline only)

Its location along the main travel route from Malaysia to Thailand has long made it a major transportation hub in the northern Malay Peninsula. At present, the city covers a land area of 666 km2 (257 sq mi), which is occupied by more than 300,000 inhabitants (as per the 2010 census). At the local-government level, Alor Setar is administered by the Alor Setar City Council.[5]

Alor Setar is the birthplace of two Malaysian prime ministers, YTM Tunku Abdul Rahman[6] and Tun Dr. Mahathir bin Mohamad.[7]


The name came from the combination of two Malay words: Alor ("small stream") and Setar (Bouea macrophylla Griff.; known as the marian plum, gandaria, or plum mango), a tree which is related to mango.[8]

The city's name was changed to Alor Star during a 21 December 2003 ceremony proclaiming it a city. The city's previous name was restored on 15 January 2009.[2]


Alor Setar was founded in 1735 by Kedah's 19th Ruler, Sultan Muhammad Jiwa Zainal Adilin II and was the state's eighth administrative centre since the establishment of the Kedah Sultanate in 1136.[9] The earlier administrative centres were located in Kota Bukit Meriam, Kota Sungai Emas, Kota Siputeh, Kota Naga, Kota Sena, Kota Indera Kayangan and Kota Bukit Pinang.[10]

Significant events held in Alor Setar include the returning of Perlis and Setul (now Satun) to Kedah by the Siamese in May 1897 (both provinces had been separated from Kedah in 1821) and a 90-day festival from June to September in 1904 to celebrate the wedding of the five children of Sultan Abdul Hamid Halim Shah.[11]

Alor Setar was proclaimed a city – the ninth in Malaysia – on 21 December 2003. A ceremony was held at Dataran Tunku, Alor Setar, attended by the Kedah's Sultan Tuanku Abdul Halim Mu'adzam Shah, his consort Che' Puan Haminah Hamidun, the heir apparent, other royalty and politicians.[12]


Locations of Alor Setar and its suburbs

Alor Setar is located in the north-western part of Peninsular Malaysia, at the edge of the Malacca Strait which separates Malaysia from Indonesia. The Kota Setar district includes Alor Setar, and borders the districts of Kubang Pasu, Pokok Sena and Pendang.

The city encompasses an area of 666 km2 (257 sq mi), including the neighbouring district of Pokok Sena which falls under the jurisdiction of the Alor Setar City Council.[13][14] Alor Setar is surrounded by important river systems such as the Kedah River, River Langgar, Tajar River, Anak Bukit River, Alor Malai and Alor Merah.


Alor Setar features a tropical monsoon climate (Am) under the Köppen climate classification. Alor Setar has a very lengthy wet season. As is common in several regions with this climate, precipitation is seen even during the short dry season. Temperatures are relatively consistent throughout the course of the year, with average high temperatures around 32 degrees Celsius and average low temperatures around 23 degrees Celsius. Alor Setar has an average 2,300 mm (91 in) of annual precipitation.

Climate data for Alor Setar
Month Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Year
Average high °C (°F) 32.9
Average low °C (°F) 22.0
Average rainfall mm (inches) 19.1
Average rainy days (≥ 1.0 mm) 2 4 8 12 14 11 13 14 17 18 15 7 135
Source: World Meteorological Organisation[15]


The city of Alor Setar had a population of 405,523, according to 2010 census data.[16]

Kedahan Malay make up the majority in Alor Setar, followed by Chinese, Indian, and Thai.

Places of InterestEdit

Cultural sitesEdit

Balai BesarEdit

Initially the function of the building was as the Balai Rong Seri or Balai Penghadapan (grand audience hall), that was situated at the back of the Kota Setar Palace complex (Istana Kota Setar). The original building was built in 1735 by Sultan Muhammad Jiwa Zainal Adilin II, the 19th Sultan of Kedah. The pillars, roofs and floors were made of wood.[17] Two Kedah Sultans were officially installed at the Balai Besar: Sultan Ahmad Tajuddin Halim Shah II in 1805, and Sultan Abdul Halim in 1959.

Balai NobatEdit

Balai Nobat

This 18-metre-tall (59 ft) three-tiered octagonal tower's sole purpose is to house the royal musical instruments including the serunai (wooden flute), nafiri, gendang (drum) and nobat (gong). The original Balai Nobat, constructed of wood, was among the early buildings already completed when Alor Setar town was officially founded in 1735. It has been rebuilt twice, most recently in 1906 in concrete and metal with a dome representing the Islamic element.[18]

The Tou Mu Kung TempleEdit

The Tou Mu Kung Temple (Chinese: 斗母宫) is a Taoist temple situated on Jalan Gangsa. Worshipping the Empress Registrar of Birth or Dou Mu [zh; 斗母] and Nine Emperor [zh; 九皇大帝] deities, the temple has both Taoist and Buddhist influences.

Kota Kuala KedahEdit

Kota Kuala Kedah (a.k.a. Kota Kuala Bahang) is the remains of a fort on the bank of the Kedah River (Sungai Kedah), which for centuries protected the Kuala Kedah Kingdom from naval attacks. The fort was originally constructed to provide protection against the Portuguese, and also stood against attacks from the Achenese from Sumatra and the Bugis. The fort was rebuilt in 1771–1780.[19]

Museums and GalleriesEdit

Muzium NegeriEdit

A state museum, Muzium Negeri houses a large collection of Kedah's historical, cultural, and royal heritage. The collection includes early Chinese porcelain, artefacts from the archaeological excavations in Bujang Valley, and a pokok bunga emas or 'gold tree' produced as a tribute to the Thais. The museum is also a research centre which specialises on Kedah's cultural history.

Before the present premises were built in 1936, parts of the museum's collection were on display at the Balai Besar. The museum was officially opened on 3 February 1957.

Pusat Sains NegaraEdit

The Pusat Sains Negara (National Science Centre) is located at Gunung Keriang next to the Alor Setar Aquatic Centre and Paddy Museum. It is the first science centre built in northern Malaysia.

Muzium PadiEdit

The Muzium Padi is the first paddy museum in Malaysia, and the fourth in the world after Japan, Germany and the Philippines.[20][21] The museum showcases the rice cultivation process in Malaysia and the tools and equipment used. Murals feature the work of 60 artists from North Korea.

Balai Seni NegeriEdit

The Kedah State Art Gallery was set up with the objective of fostering interest in and an appreciation of art in the state. Its collection includes paintings, photographs, musical instruments and handicrafts.

Galeria Sultan Abdul HalimEdit

The Sultan Abdul Halim Mu'adzam Shah Gallery building originally housed the Alor Setar High Court, before it was moved to Kompleks Mahkamah Alor Setar in Suka Menanti. This building is located at the junction of Jalan Putera, adjacent to the Balai Nobat. This building was built for the existing Balai Seni.[inconsistent]

Muzium Diraja KedahEdit

The Kedah Royal Museum had originally been part of the Kota Setar palace. It was rebuilt after attacks by the Bugis (1770) and Siamese (1821). The current concrete building was completed during the reign of Sultan Ahmad Tajuddin Mukarram Shah, who once stayed in this palace with his queen.

This palace is also known as the "Pelamin Palace" after it was extended to include a pavilion and additional rooms, when Sultan Abdul Hamid Halim Shah arranged marriages for his five children. The grand wedding ceremony lasted for three months in 1904. After 1941, the palace was used as a school and an office for several organisations including the office for the St. John Ambulance and the Scout movements. On 25 July 1983, the palace was declared the Kedah Royal Museum.

Pekan RabuEdit

Pekan Rabu is located near the city's government offices. Although the name literally means "Wednesday Market", this market is open all week long. It sells a variety of handicrafts and is a popular spot for tourists and locals.

Menara Alor SetarEdit

Located in the heart of Alor Setar, this 165.5-metre-tall (543 ft) tower is a prominent modern landmark that signifies the rapid development in Kedah. It serves as a telecommunications tower and tourist attraction, offering a panoramic view of the city and surroundings.

Wan Mat Saman CanalEdit

Wan Mat Saman Aqueduct is the longest aqueduct in Malaysia. It connects Kedah River in Alor Setar to Gurun at the south, and was built to boost the state's rice production.

Rumah Kelahiran MahathirEdit

The birthplace of Tun Dr Mahathir, the fourth and seventh Prime Minister of Malaysia, has been designated as a historic building. Located at No. 18 Lorong Kilang Ais, off Jalan Pegawai, it was restored by the National Archives in 1992.[22][23]

Rumah MerdekaEdit

Independence House is a designated historic building which houses the collection and memorial of Tunku Abdul Rahman, the first Prime Minister of Malaysia. It is owned by the national archives.[24]

Kedah Royal MausoleumEdit

The Kedah royal mausoleum is located in Langgar, near the city centre.

Istana Anak BukitEdit

Istana Anak Bukit main entrance

Anak Bukit is the birthplace and royal palace of Sultan Tuanku Abdul Halim Muadzam Shah and of the current ruler, Sultan Sallehuddin. Sungai Anak Bukit which is situated behind the royal palace, flows through Alor Setar and is connected by the Kedah River to Kuala Kedah. Since 2008, it has been used in royal ceremonies, replacing the old Balai Besar, and is the very palace were Sultan Sallehuddin was officially enthroned and installed.

Places of worshipEdit

Main entrance and dome of Masjid Zahir

Zahir Mosque (Masjid Zahir)[25] is the state mosque of Kedah and enjoys a royal history and patronage. Built in 1912, its official opening ceremony was held on 15 October 1915 by the late Sultan Abdul Hamid Halim Shah. The architecture of the mosque was inspired by the Azizi Mosque[26] in Tanjung Pura, Langkat Sultanate (present-day North Sumatra).

Wat Nikrodharam is a significant Buddhist shrine in the city. It is located at Jalan Teluk Wan Jah, next to the city's primary roundabout. Its architecture reflects strong Thai elements with minor Chinese motifs. It offers a quiet oasis in the city centre. Both Theravada and Mahayana Buddhist traditions are observed here.[27]


  • Kolej Universiti Insaniah[28] (KUIN, formerly known as Kolej Insaniah or INSANIAH), located in Mergong.
  • Albukhary International University (AIU), a new private institution of higher learning located in the Albukhary Complex.[29]

Other institutions of higher learning in Alor Setar include Open University (opposite PNB), Nursing College (Kolej Kejururawatan), Institut Kemahiran Mara (Tongkang Yard), Kolej Poly-Tech MARA at Jalan Putra, and Kolej Tentera Udara (Royal Air Force College) located in Kepala Batas.

Alor Setar is served by many primary and secondary schools. Notable secondary schools include:

The prime building of SAHC[expand acronym]


Alor Setar has many sport facilities that are open to the public.

Darulaman Stadium is located in Jalan Stadium and Lebuhraya Darul Aman. It is used mostly for football matches and is the official stadium for Malaysian Super League's club Kedah FA. The stadium was built in 1967 and has a capacity of 32,387 following expansion in 1997. It was one of the venues for the 1997 FIFA World Youth Championship.

Other facilities are Sultan Abdul Halim Stadium, Pusat Akuatik Alor Setar, Kompleks Belia and Sukan.

Kedah hosted the Sukma Games in 2006.


The capital of Kedah is connected to all parts of Peninsular Malaysia by all transport modes.


The North–South Expressway, which extends from Bukit Kayu Hitam (Malaysia–Thai border town) to Singapore, has made it easy to drive to Kedah. It is a 6–7-hour drive from Kuala Lumpur and 1.5-hour drive from Penang via expressway.

Alor Setar is approached from the east coast via East–West Highway (Lebuhraya Timur Barat). Towns such as Butterworth and Kangar etc., can also be accessed from Alor Setar. Car rental services are available.


Most of bus companies in Peninsular Malaysia provide air-conditioned express bus services. Tickets can be bought at bus terminals or ticket offices. All buses that arrive in Alor Setar stop at Shahab Perdana Terminal Bus. Those who wish to travel to other towns, including Thailand, can board their bus at this terminal. Local bus services are also available, serving almost all towns in Kedah.


Train services are provided by Keretapi Tanah Melayu Berhad (KTMB) through their ETS services. Train are available between Alor Setar and Kuala Lumpur, Butterworth, Padang Besar, and Gemas. The city' two railway stations are Alor Setar railway station and Anak Bukit railway station. Tickets can be obtained from the train station or online booking.


The Sultan Abdul Halim Airport (Alor Setar Airport, IATA code: AOR) is located at Kepala Batas, 15 km (9.3 mi) north of the city. It serves mostly domestic flights. Malaysia Airlines, Firefly, Malindo Air, and AirAsia fly daily to and from Alor Setar and Kuala Lumpur. Since 9 September 2013, Malaysian Airline System connects Alor Setar with a direct flight to Madinah and Jeddah for the Hajj season.


Passenger ferry services to and from Langkawi to Kuah Ferry Service are provided at Jeti Kuala Kedah, Alor Setar. The jetty is located 15 km (9.3 mi) west of the city. Travellers can take bus or taxi from city to the jetty.

Notable people from Alor SetarEdit



Dato' Paduka Ahmad Basri Akil, Mohd Helmi Eliza Elias, Mohd Khyril Muhymeen Zambri, Tan Boon Heong, Lee Zii Jia

Government and politicsEdit

Tan Sri Zaki Tun Azmi, Tun Ahmad Fairuz Abdul Halim, Tun Mohamed Azmi Mohamed, Tun Syed Sheh Hassan Barakbah



New Syariah Court building on the West side
Complete administrative building on the East side

According to the Ninth Malaysia Plan, by the year 2010, Bandar Muadzam Shah in Anak Bukit will become the new Administrative Centre after Alor Setar city. Bandar Muadzam Shah (Anak Bukit) is going through major infrastructure development, including the new Anak Bukit police station, new National Registration Department (Jabatan Pendaftaran Negara) of Kedah and also new state government buildings. A new railway station (Anak Bukit International Rail Station) is to be built there when the electrified twin-railway project is completed.

Sister citiesEdit


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  3. ^ Information, Malaya Department of (1957). Fact Sheets on the Federation of Malaya. The Department.
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  29. ^ [3] Archived 13 March 2012 at the Wayback Machine
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External linksEdit

Preceded by
Capital of Kedah
Succeeded by