FRASER’S Hill is spread across seven densely forested hills in the Titiwangsa Range, the backbone range of Peninsular Malaysia.
It is 100km from Kuala Lumpur and its origins can be traced back to the 1890s as “Pamah Lebar”, a tin mining community where its founder, Scottish prospector Louis James Fraser, discovered rich tin deposits and opened a mining facility.
However, when its tin reserves were depleted in 1913, miners and farmers left in search of greener pastures.
Earlier in 1910, Fraser had also mysteriously disappeared from the town.
His friend, Reverend C.J. Ferguson-Davie, the Bishop of Singapore, searched high and low for him but failed to find him.
However, the reverend saw the potential of the cool climate of the area and decided to set up a hill station there.
Present-day research has revealed that Fraser had returned to Great Britain and died while travelling to Austria-Hungary.
Work began in October 1919 and the mining area was soon converted into a resort.
The place was renamed Fraser’s Hill and opened to visitors in 1922.
Sir George Maxwell, in his report on the history of the hill in 1925, attributed its development “to some freaks of chance”.
In the Federal Council Paper of 1925, Maxwell wrote: “Fraser’s Hill will always be the most exquisite and dainty hill station in Malaya and I have no doubt that in a few years we will see great development of enterprise in building bungalows there.”
Some of the bungalows named after the early British residents of Pahang before being renamed to that of its districts still stand.
However, a number of these grand displays of Tudor architecture are now in a state of neglect or abandoned.
There are fears it would go the way of Maybank Lodge and Jelai Resort, which were demolished last month to make way for a 15-storey resort and spa.
Rapid development traced bacl to the 1970s had left its mark on the ecosystem of the hamlet by way of deforestation and water pollution.
Fraser’s Hill is rich in a diverse range of flora and fauna that attracts scientists and researchers from all over the world.
Some 952 indigenous species have been found in Fraser’s Hill, which accounts for 10 per cent of all plant species discovered in the peninsula.
The hill is also home to 250 types of birds and this has attracted significant birders from all over the world.
Birdlife International has also given it recognition as an important area for birds.
A census in 2013 said Fraser’s Hill has a population of 1,000. In recent years, it has also been the focus of increasing touristic activity, as well as hiking, cycling, golfing, archery, tennis, swimming and squash.
By : Veena Babulal – NST