Friday, November 23, 2012

Bidadari (18 November)

I never stepped into Bidadari before when it was a cemtery. I had no interest back then and it was one of biggest regrets never got to experience and see the rich heritage that the place had to offer and now long gone except in people's pictures. I decided to take a leisurely nature walk in Bidadari for my very first time on a Sunday morning and that became a rewarding experience for me, for the many birds i saw as well as getting to see a solitary Variable /Finlayson's Squirrel on my very first visit there.

Variable or Finlay'son Squirrel in Bidadari
Variable Squirrel 
Getting there
Bartley Station was the nearest train station for me and only a 50 meter walk along Bartley Road before arriving to Bidadari (the malay cemetery section). It didn't take me long to spot the many variety of birds there. The first birds we saw was a group of 5 Black Baza flying in and landed on the branches of large Albizia trees above me.

There were plenty of cuckoo's spotted there, however i was very rusty in their identification. I hope i got the identification correct.

Hodgson's Hawk Cuckoo 

Oriental Cuckoo 

Oriental Cuckoo 

Laced Woodpecker (Female)

A pair of Dollar birds 

The beautiful trees in Bidadari 
History of Bidadari 
Bidadari is believed to be derived from the Sanskrit widyadari meaning "nymph of Indra's heaven" or houri, a similar meaning in Persian mythology. Prior to it being a cemetery, the estate belong to one of the wives of Sultan Abu Bakar of Johor. Her palace, Istana Bidadari sat on the 18 ha land before the colonial government acquired it on 1904 to turn it into a municipal cemetery. The graveyard was separated in sections for Christians, Muslims, Hindus and Singhalese. Believed to have more than 140,000 graves, it was closed in 1972.

Development plans
The Bidadari housing estate, according to a  URA/HDB report, will have a park and be cyclist-friendly, retaining its hilly and lush landscape and incorporate the historical aspects of the former 93 ha former cemetery site and complement the existing Bidadari Memorial Garden. As mentioned earlier, Bidadari ceased burials in 1972 and the tombs was exhumed through the early 2000s. Some 12,000 private and HDB homes will be developed on the site bounded by Bartley Road, Upper Serangoon Road, Sennett Estate and Mount Vernon Road. The new township could come up as early as 2015, with flats completed in 2018.

In meantime, i will plan more visits there before this place goes forever and become a permanent concrete jungle.

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