Karikal Mahal

A pale-bluish mansion occupies a large plot of land at the junction of Still Road South and St Patrick’s Road. It is the Karikal Mahal, the former residence of a rich Indian merchant.

In 1917, wealthy cattle merchant Moona Kadir Sultan bought this plot of land and built a large mansion for his numerous wives. The majestic mansion was completed three years later and comprised of four houses with a luxurious garden, fountains and beautiful angel sculptures by an artificial lake. The whole project, modelled after a mixture of Victorian, Italianate and Indian-styled designs, cost $500,000, a huge amount in the twenties.

Karikal Mahal was named after Moona Kadir Sultan’s hometown, a small town located in South India’s state of Tamil Nadu. Mahal means palace in Indian. Before the land reclamation of Marine Parade in the late sixties, the mansion was only a short distance away from the coastline, allowing the residents to enjoy sea breezes and listen to the sounds of waves.

In 1947, the property was sold to a local company Lee Rubber Company, who renovated the mansion into a 20-room budget hotel, named as Renaissance Grand Hotel. The hotel had enjoyed brisk business in the past but today its glory days have clearly passed, with the mansion converted into a temporary warehouse for unwanted furniture.

The land is still owned by Lee Rubber, and is estimated to be worth $300m in the current property boom.

The government acquired part of the land in 1973 in order to construct a main road linking the north part (Joo Chiat area) to south. Still Road cuts through the occupied land, splitting the garden from the mansion. Today, one can still spot some small old huts located in a barren land directly opposite Grand Hotel (or formerly Karikal Mahal).

Nearby, there is a road named after Karikal Mahal. It is the Karikal Lane, a short stretch of road perpendicular to St Patrick’s Road. There was once a Karikal Road too, but had become part of the present-day Still Road South.

Some 100 buildings, including Karikal Mahal, around Joo Chiat and Katong area were placed on the conservation list by the Urban Redevelopment Authority (URA) in 2009.

Published: 03 February 2012

60 Responses to Karikal Mahal

  1. Eugene says:

    Brilliant. It’s great that you are documenting our heritage and past. Been wanting to get inside this place to do some interior photography.

    Enjoy reading your posts. Very unique! What’s next? :) Rochor area?

  2. nicolas villar says:

    I lived in that address with my wife for a while in 1972. When we left for Italy we were told the place was slated for demolition, and it broke our heart. I’m so happy it was preserved and placed in the Conservation List.

  3. Edwin Pereira says:

    I was born in 24 Karikal Lane in 1946 and lived till 1979 I will always remember the Graand Hotel,we payed football in the field in front before Still Road cut it in half.

    • Teo Meng Toon says:

      I would like to say hello to Mr Edwin Pereira. I remember you well. I lived in the workers’ quarters of the Grand Hotel where my father was a waiter. We were there from I think 1948/49 till 1968. Yes we played football and flew fighting kites in the big field outside the Grand Hotel. What is now Still Road South was Karikal Road, and Grand Hotel’s address was then 24/26 Karikal Road, Singapore 15.

      • Edwin says:

        Yes, I remember you too, ‘suki’ we were young then, we played football and flew kites, I have been living in Sydney, Australia for the last 28 years, I remember you had an older brother, I hope everything is well with you.

    • Sahida Jinah says:

      I was brought up at 22 karikal Lane. If anyone remembers. I have 4brothers all from St Patrick. HAKAMALI, Habib
      AHMED and Riyaz.
      I remembered your mum. Mrs pereira. That’s what we used to call her. Maybe it was your grand mother. Are you still staying there. I was looking to buy back my old house. But the house on sale is 24 karikal Lane.

  4. elroygoh02 says:

    I thought the Karikal Mahal was a haunted house. And why there are air-con? One time I saw some cars inside the ground surrounding the building. How do they get there when the gate is closed?

  5. xlash says:

    Yo ! I am doing a project on this can I give ma more info

  6. Typi says:

    I was from Katong Convent Secondary (1978-1981) at Martia Road and my art class overlooked the compound of Karikal Mansion. It inspired many of the styles I used during Still Life painting as I brushed along daydreaming about this mysterious and massive mansion which beautiful as it was I did not see anyone there for some years. Till I read your post it was always a mystery. Only once did I remember seeing bikini clad white women happily dipping in the swimming pool. This place shaped many a fantasy during art lessons and now at 47 finally the mystery is unravelled. I wish I could one day visit past the lawns that I used to admire from my classroom window on the upper floors of the old convent. Now thanks to you, I understand its 2 parts to the mansion split by Still Road.

  7. Teo Meng Toon says:

    Hi Edwin, good to know you read my post. Yes have not seen you since 1968. I am contactable at my email address “mtteo@pacific.net.sg”. If you care to we can exchange some musings of old times. Yes my elder brother and I are both well.

  8. Edwin Pereira!Wow haven’t heard or seen you for ages.We always mention you when talk about the old times.Do you remember Barnaby Leicester,Peter Foo,Jared Lazaroo, Chew Hai Huat and Charles Remedios and Barry Desker?We still meet up at times for lunch.

  9. Edwin says:

    Yes, Lionel, I remember all these guys, I have been living in Sydney for nearly 30 years, I have seen Barry on Channel News Asia discussing subjects on Asean with Kisho Murabini, I watch CNA via satellite, still pluged in to Spore, still working for the Dept of Health, please send my regards to all our school mates.

  10. I will.You might be receiving some contact from some of them when I let them know I’ve located your whereabouts!Keep well and safe.

  11. Peter Dunlop author "Street names of Singapore" says:

    Huts? Surely servants quarters, garages/stables

  12. daralkhayrat says:

    Anyone interested to hear the story, briefly, of Moona ? He is from my community and I grew up listening to these stories and my late uncle who shared most of the stories had lived around the time of Moona to know him also.

    • mariam mohd karim osman kader sultan says:

      Hi daralkhayrat,hmmm..just to make sure u hear the right stories ya…I’m his great grand daughter.I’m not sure if we are related? Would love to hear from you too…and by the way what is your good name?

      • Taher Saheb says:

        Assalamu Alaikum ! I am resident of KARIKAL ( FRENCH TERRITORY-INDIA ). Still I have good contact with your relatives in KARAIKAL.. It will be more delighted if they come to know you also one of their ( KADER SULTAN ) family member. My cell number 0091 9894517606

    • davidyap2013 says:

      Hi Daralkhayrat,

      Greetings!
      Some information on Mr. Moona Kader Sultan:
      Born : 1863 Karikal – French India
      1877: Arrival in Singapore at the age of 14
      1924: Received the rank of Knights in The National Order of the Legion of Honour from The French Government
      Mr. Kader Sultan iss the first French Indian subject and one of the most important member of the Muslim group in Singapore. He is a member of the Muslim Advisory Board of Singapore, where he serves as a Justice of Peace.
      He owns the Straits Cattle Trading Company.
      1936: He was sued and went bankrupt and his Karikal Mahal was put up by the British to be auction at $90,000. He did not attend the hearing as he was ill and was in Karikal.
      4th June 1937: Mr. Moona Kader Sultan passed away in his hometown in Karikal at the age of 74.
      By the way, he also built another building at Little India located at Campbell Lane (now known as Madras Street) which has been restored to a Boutique Hotel called The Daulat.

  13. daralkhayrat! let’s hear your story!The original owner was a rich cattle trader etc if I am not mistaken from stories I vaguely remember from my father who used to play for a football team he sponsored in the late nineteen twenties to the early ninteen thirties!

  14. Just passed by Karikal Mahal.Its all boarded and covered.Some kind of renovation works going on.Anybody in the know about this?

  15. Eileen says:

    My family are some kind of distant relatives with Lee Rubber so anyway. I have pictures of myself as a toddler playing in the garden of Grand Hotel and i think it dates back to 1983-1990. We still lived a few doors to Grand Hotel. The old servants of Lee Rubber are still living inside. I’ll try to listen to gossips and find out what’s going on with the renovation!

  16. Thank you Eileen.Sure would like to know what’s happening!

  17. Eileen says:

    Roof fell down couple of months ago so they are just restoring and repairing it that’s all. No one lives there anymore, they lived on the other Grand Hotel side. Still road still actually belongs to Lee Rubber, they merely loaned it to the govt. The colonial SD behind are also owned by them. They acquired all the units many years ago, probably 10yrs or more and its all rented out. The front garden was sold and it’s now a condo D’Ecosia, they tried it buy it back from the condo residents but they refused to sell.

  18. Melissa says:

    Wow Eileen, thanks for the update! So, any plans for Lee Rubber to sell this place, or do something about it?

  19. Melissa says:

    daralkhayrat – please do tell us your stories!

  20. Mariam says:

    Daralkhayrat please tell us your story.
    My great great grandfather was Moona Kadir Sultan, my grandfather was actually born in the Karikal Mahal and lived there until his father died. I would love to hear the stories you know

  21. KS descendant says:

    Hi Mariam. Could we be related? My grandfather was Hussain Kader Sultan. We still have old black and white photographs of the men in the family in rows with long moustaches and their tarbush hats. The only female in the group photo of about 20+ people was my aunt as a baby. I have always been intrigued by why the family estate was sold shortly after World War II ended a mere 30 years after the estate was built. They lived such a life of grandeur then but the family empire in Singapore fell apart quite quickly. I heard stories that the Cattle King left Singapore for India quite abruptly after he was disappointed by one of his children’s behaviour. The estate was then sold off by one of the children who then ran out of the country with the proceeds. I can’t confirm these stories. But if anyone could shed some light on this mystery and on what had really happened, maybe it could give some peace to a many of the Kader Sultan descendants.

    • mariam mohd karim osman kader sultan says:

      Yes we are related..can I know your real name..this is my contact 82454709 ..

      • Taher Saheb says:

        ASSALAMU ALAIKUM Mrs Mariam Mohamed Karim ! Have you met some of your relatives in Karaikal. Hope you had a wonderful time on that day.

      • Rokiah says:

        Hi Mariam, my name is Rokiah and my grandfather is Mohamed Yusoff bin Kadir Sultan son of Moona Kadir Sultan. I have always been interested in our family history and I am sure we are related. My grandfather had nine children and my father grew up in Karikal Mahal. But my father’s family left Karikal Mahal when my grandfather died at a young age of 41 years old. My grandmother and my father have told me many stories and most of it are sad incidents. My family and I have lived in England since 1972 but last year I visited my cousins in Singapore and went past the old mansion. It is still magnificent even at this age. If you have any other stories , I would love to hear it.

  22. L H Tan says:

    Hi All!! This is great I live very near that area. Can someone post a beachfront picture or any old one of Kariral Mahal next to the sea please. Or painting. I hv been searchin so long .
    My email is ketch232002@yahoo.com.sg

    tx

  23. Suraya KSM Anuar says:

    :-)

  24. Suraya KSMA says:

    would be great to create a group or facebook page to link up all the members of the Kader Sultan Family. (me being one)
    i could start off, but any takers?

    • Suraya says:

      a descendant just passed away on Tuesday. Kareem bin Osman Kader Sultan.
      my granduncle. Alfatehah for him please. :(

      • mariam mohd karim osman kader sultan says:

        Hi suraya..mariam here,,yes that is my dad.how are you..stay in touch

      • Suraya KSM Anuar says:

        Salam Mariam. Add me at FB. @elyqa azura (bibi n suraya kadirsultan)
        And we can start connecting again.
        Like I mentioned, thot of creating a page for The Kader Sultan family. :)

  25. kader mastan says:

    Could you please send any photos related to that,,,,,
    my name is kader mastan and my father name k.sulthan maraicar and his father name kader mastan maricar and his father k.sultan maricar,,,,,,,, he is the cattle king king in 1920’s “kader sultan”

    • mariam mohd karim osman kader sultan says:

      Hmmm..hi kader,,I’m am surprised we are related too..I went to India pondicherry and had seen the kader sultan mahal there itself..

      • David Yap says:

        Hi Mariam Mohd Karim Osman Kader Sultan,

        I was chance upon your story and I am not related in anyway but I have some question about an older building believed to be owned by Moona Sultan Kader and was ordered to be built in 1912 at Campbell Lane (Madras Street now). The previous name before the developer bought over was named as GEO building, but now has been converted to a beautiful boutique hotel, called The Daulat. I would like to piece the history data together and bring some recognition to the gentleman who order this to be built then. I wish I could attached a picture of the facade which was just completed but couldnt get it attached here. The original story which this building was built was to house his immediate family and workers for his cattles (cows and goats) and his cow shed was just behind this building streched till Perak road.

        Best wishes,
        David Yap
        davidyap@thedaulat.com

  26. Peter Dunlop author "Street names of Singapore" says:

    Hey! Campbell Lane is still there, according to streetdirectory.com

  27. David Yap says:

    Hi Peter,
    Sorry to confused you. Indeed you are right, Campbell is still there. Madras Street is part of Campbell Lane previously that connects to Dalhousie Lane. Madras Street was named between 1935 to 1940. The building that Moona Kader Sultan owns is located now at the Madras Street.

  28. Lee Yong Ming says:

    Hello. I’m very keen on purchasing a copy of Peter Dunlop’s “Street Names Of Singapore”. Can anyone help me please? I’m Lee Yong Ming and my Handphone number is +65 96683118. Thanks everyone.

    My aunt used to work at the Grand Hotel. Alice Thomas is her name. I also knew Susan Ang who was a famous Singapore model from my era. She lived in the wooden hut across the Still Road South from Grand Hotel.

    Lee Yong ming

  29. TAHER SAHEB says:

    ASSALAMU ALAIKUM,
    I AM TAHER SAHEB FRIEND OF MR. ABDUL MAJEED AGE 51, SON OF HAJIRA UMMAL AGE 81, D/0 JAMEELA UMMAL ( EXPIRED ) D/O MOONA KADER SULTAN,( IS A GRAND GRAND SON OF MOONA KADER SULTAN) AT PRESENT LIVING IN KARAIKAL. MY CONTACT NUMBER IS 00 919894517606 PLEASE CONTACT ME FOR FURTHER DETAILS .

  30. Alia says:

    Hi. Anyone knows if this place is open for rental for a one day event?

    I love the space and the architecture.

  31. aliogoi says:

    Great. Now I know. Wish can take photos of the place. Looks beautiful and imposing even in its current state.

  32. gerry, says:

    I cannot help adding in my contribution as a ball boy to former Singapore goalkeeper Wilfred Skinner (RIP) when he trained at Karikal field every evening. Players like Vernon Lim, Gerard Bheem, Spencer (Skinner’s neighbour) Brian Plunkett, Brian Rozario (coached by Skinner and subsequently wore national colours) ,as well as many other from St Patrick’s School who were schooled by Skinner and others like Andrew Yap and his brother Sebastian, A proud football playground for the Katong boys until some brainless morons decided to destroy it with a road running right through it. Just like that.

  33. Marian Danker says:

    Does anyone know the historical reference to Martia Road.My grandmother Belinda Martia used to tell me that it was named after her father.

  34. Edwin Pereira says:

    Yes, I remember you and your brother chatu as your mother called him, I havae been living in Sydney for the last 30 years

  35. Sahida Jinah says:

    Yes that’s right. Nickname
    chotu, akuli and Habib, the younger one babu.

    • Sahida Jinah says:

      I will let Chotu know that you still remembers him. He will be excited and will recall his childhood days.

      • Edwin Pereira says:

        Yes, I remember the 3 of them Babu is the youngest, are you the eldest daughter and you have another sister the names Chotu,Akuli and Habib bring back memories, send my regards to all of them

  36. Sahida Jinah says:

    No I’m the youngest. Six girls and four boys. We were the biggest family in karikal Lane. Magi is the eldest. She is in penang. She runs the Mydin’s hypermarket in Penang. Chotu and three brothers sends their regards to you.

  37. Edwin Pereira says:

    Yes, now I recall her name Magi, your mother would be proud of her, she is doing well, did they rebuild 24 Karikal lane

    • A. Sam Jinnah says:

      This is “Akuli’ or ‘Kuli’ and sometime even ‘Hercules’ by those who could not pronounce my name correctly. Sure as been a long time and I still remember my neighbor, the studious, handsome, but very quiet guy, Edwin Pereira. My sister Sahida prompted all of us with regards to your blog that she sighted and got all of us to look into it. It sure brings back a lot of memories. Will always miss that place. My good old friend Reganadan Jaganathan; still resides at 14 Karikal Lane, but in this day and constraint time, have hardly seen him and contacted him. But surprisingly, about a month ago, I met Steven Wong (he was residing on the main road – East Coast Road) who had a brother by the name of Binny boy, over tea (4pm) at Macpherson Road, near my office. He has hardly changed but he had, without hesitation called out my name so loudly ‘Akuli’, to my surprise. Frankly this name has not been mentioned for more than 50 years now, which also means that if you see me on the road, you will definitely recognize me. We had a hearty conversation for more than two or so hours, putting aside all our other programs and in the conversation, your name, names of our other buddies were mentioned; like Franco Fernandez (staying Karikal Road), Denise Wee and his brother Tony Wee (staying in the Zinc house opposite ours), Brian Rozario, his sister Sandra, Johnson Wee and Ah Choo, the shopowners’ sons; to name the least and I was told to keep him informed should I meet anyone of you. So please keep in touch.

      • Edwin Pereira says:

        Akuli, I like your adjectives, very complementary, I can still hear you mother calling you
        Akuli, your narration brings back memories of long forgotten childhood friends like the song has ended but the melody lingers on. you had a big swing in the hall of your house, your mother and the children use to be on it. Steven Wong and his brother use to be flight stewards with SIA and Brian Rozario use to be a footballer, Thanks of the Memories

  38. A. Sam Jinnah says:

    Yes, so true. My mum is 91 and with the grace of God healthy and in good spirit. By the way Edwin, should you visit Singapore, please do not forget to call. My mum and all, will definitely love to meet up with you. My mobile number is +65-97368810, which has been the same since the eighties; hence, will not change anytime soon. Cheers!

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