Legends of Melaka Underground Secret Tunnel Series

4 June 2021

Have you heard of the stories about the Melaka Underground Secret Tunnel? If you haven’t, well now you will! Buckle up! We’re going to take a step back in time.

The legends of Melaka Secret Underground Tunnel is not something ‘new’ to the people of Melaka. In fact, the story about this legend also captured the interest of historians and excavators all over the world. Stories on the secret tunnels of Melaka have been around since the era of the Melaka Sultanate Kingdom.

Since the early 1800’s, there were talks about underground secret tunnel in Melaka and yet until today, nobody has ever laid eyes on the tunnels. Locals and foreign excavators explored the tunnel for obvious reasons, treasure. Many historians, including Munshi Abdullah, have mentioned about the existence told of the secret underground tunnel at St Paul’s Hill. In Hikayat Abdullah, published in 1849, Munshi said one could walk to the Governor’s residence a top St Paul’s Hill through the tunnel. Other historians, like John Cameron and Rev Father Rene Cardon, also wrote about it, with some claiming that the records of tunnels built by the Portuguese and Dutch in Melaka are kept in Europe.

View of St. Paul's Hill from Melaka Pier in 1871 (source: Shad Ower)
Porta De Santiago in the 1900s (source: Romance of The Grand Tour)

However, anyone who entered the tunnel never resurfaced and reported to be missing. Hence, as a way to discourage people from going into the tunnel, stories like a dragon-like creature and a giant serpent living in the tunnel spread like wildfire across the town. It also came to a point where the British had to guard the Old Gateway with high fences to keep the excavators away from entering the tunnel. One of the most credible report of the tunnel being explored was in 1936 by the Melaka Historical Society. They tried to locate the tunnels but to no avail.

Meanwhile, Munshi Abdullah (in Hikayat Abdullah) confirmed that there were tunnels built into the hill, which connects the Stadthuys (Governor’s resident) direct to the mouth of the Melaka river. It was said to serve as an escape route for the Dutch.

Another theory came about where John Cameron, the editor of Straits Times claimed that there was an opening at the bottom of St Paul’s Hill and they found swords and other ancient things as well. Unfortunately, there were no further effort carried out to explore the tunnel.

JOHN CAMERON, 1861-1867 (source: straitstimes.com)

All these cases tried to confirm the existence of the tunnels but nobody seemed to be able to prove them right. Until these days, there is no official news or records of the discovery of these tunnels. It could be just stories or legends. The efforts to prove their existence seemed to have eroded over time. However, PERZIM (Melaka Museum Authority) announced that they have discovered an old secret tunnel linking St Paul’s Hill to St John’s Hill, with the state museum body saying more explorations will follow. Read more about the intriguing findings published by Portal Berita RTM & The Star

So we are going to take you through the three popular legends of Melaka Underground Secret Tunnel. Brace yourself for some amazing stories and stay tuned! Be sure not to miss out!

We will be posting on these three legends exclusively on the Vivify App only.