Melaka Heritage Tip :: China Hill Cemetery a.k.a Bukit China

Bukit China is situated southeast of Malacca Town, about 148 metres above sea level and covers an area of 42 hectares.

Bukit China used to be a resident zone for Hang Li Po and her maids in the 15th century. After Melaka was conquered by Portuguese, the Portuguese built a Franciscan chapel on this hill dedicated to “Madre de Deus” (Mother of God) but it was destroyed along with an adjacent monastery during the Achinese attack of 1629.

Now Bukit China is the largest Chinese cemetery outside of mainland China. There are more than 12,500 graves on Bukit China including approximately 20 Muslim tombs. The existence of these Muslim tombs has made this Chinese cemetery all the more special and unique.

The early cemetery that existed on this site (including the one grave dated to 1622) was fairly small. According to Cheng Hoon Teng records, there were also graves of Kapitans and early Chinese immigrants on the hill long before the hill was purchased from the Dutch Government in 1685 by Kapitan Lee Wei King and donated to the Cheng Hoon Teng Temple as a burial ground for the Chinese community in Malacca.

The oldest tomb, more than three centuries old, is a double burial. The tomb of Mr. & Mrs. Huang Wei-Hung (situated near the basketball court of SRJK Pay Fong III) was built in the second year of Tian Hee of Ming Dynasty (1622). The weather had taken a heavy toll on the tomb, and in 1933 Cheng Hoon Teng Temple had undertaken to repair it. A stone inscription was erected to mark it. The tomb was again restored in 2001.

Bukit China is the place where early traders from China were buried. It was stated on the stone stelaes that many of the Chinese traders came to this country with high expectations for success in trade. Sadly, some died before fulfilling their ambitions. Since their families did not travel with them, there was no one to pray for their souls. As such, prayers were initiated by the Chinese Kapitans for them. However, these were always hampered by strong winds and heavy rainfalls because there was no proper shelter.

In 1795, after Chua Su Cheong had been appointed as the Chinese Kapitan, he looked into this problem faced by the community and initiated the building of a temple at the foot of Bukit China, to ensure that the prayers for those buried in Bukit China would not be interrupted. The name of the temple, Poh San Teng is inscribed in the 1795 tablet of its founding and also above the front door of the temple.

The main deity is “Fu De Zheng Shen” or “Tua Pek Kong” as is the tradition of the Chinese, be it in China or Malaysia for all graveyard temples.

Many historians and people always mistaken Poh San Teng is related to Cheng Ho which is untrue.

On the root of the hill, local Chinese community erected a monument inscribed with a calligraphy by the China Nationalist President, Chiang Kia Sik to commemorate those killed by the Japanese army during the world war II.

Location & photo gallery

Category: Heritage @ Melaka