Third Legend:
Tunnel From Inside Stadthuys to Melaka River

25th June 2021

“In line with the hill stood the residence of the Governor, a building of elaborate design. To reach it one could walk through a tunnel built into the hill. There was also a door giving direct access to the river.”

– Hikayat Abdullah

A drawing of Stadthuys in 1840 by Louis Pierre Alphonse Bichebois

There is a legend on the existence of an escape tunnel in Stadthuys towards Melaka River. This theory was brought up by Munshi Abdullah in his book, ‘Hikayat Abdullah’.

Munshi Abdullah was a Malay writer and he once worked as Sir Stamford Raffles’ assistant and was once the translator in Melaka and Singapore. His most important work was the Hikayat Abdullah, an autobiography. It was completed in 1843 and first published in 1849, making it one of the first Malay literary texts to be published commercially. This profound achievement gained him the title ‘Father of Modern Malay Literature. 

Hikayat Abdullah, 1849

In Hikayat Abdullah, it was stated that there were tunnels built into the hill, which connects the Stadthuys direct to the mouth of Melaka river. It was said to serve as an escape route for the Dutch.

With regards to Munshi Abdullah’s claim that there was a door in the Stadthuys that give direct access to the river, the Dutch conservation architect, Laurens Vis had already confirmed during his investigation of the building, he did not find any secret tunnels or hidden passageways inside the building.

Melaka River embankment in front of Stadthuys collapses (source: The Star, May 27th,2011)

Such an opportunity presented itself on 27th May 2011. There was news that part of an embankment along the Melaka River, believed to have been built during the British era, had collapsed. As luck would have it, the embankment that fell into the river was at the exact location where the supposed tunnel would likely to have been. Upon a first hand view of the affected area and also from photographs obtained from the press, it was a surprise that there was no evidence found of anything that looked like an underground tunnel in the earth of the broken embankment.

Therefore, the underground secret tunnels in Melaka still remain a mystery. PERZIM has recently declared that more explorations and excavations will follow. We are eager to know more about these mysterious “tunnels” and waiting for many interesting and intriguing findings from PERZIM.

If you’re keen on the history of Melaka, please keep a close eye on our page. We have reached the end of our “The Legends of The Melaka Underground Secret Tunnel Series”. It has been an enjoyable ride with you guys. We hope this series create and re-ignite your love for Melaka and its wonderful history. Do share your thoughts or any interesting stories you may have heard of the Melaka Underground Secret Tunnels and tag us at We would love to hear your take on this!

 We would like to give a massive thanks to Dennis De Witt for taking the time to talk to us and sharing everything he could on these legends. If you love the mystery of these Melaka secret underground tunnel, you should get his book “Legends of The Secret Tunnels of Malacca”. You can purchase it at Kinokuniya or directly to Nutmeg Publishing. 

Legends of The Secret Tunnels of Malacca by Dennis De Witt