18th June 2021
On the ground, in the center of the Old Gateway is the entrance to a tunnel. People have entered the tunnel but never came back out again because they were eaten by a giant snake that lives in it.”
– Local legend
In 1920’s, there was a sudden growth in interest on the history of Melaka and the underground tunnel. The locals were aware about the existence of an opening hole inside the old gateway. During that time, there were stories of three fearless explorers who never resurfaced after entering the ‘tunnel’ in the old gateway. Hence, as a way to discourage people from going into the “tunnel”, stories like dragon-like creature living in the “tunnel” spread like wildfire across the town. But, it will made more sense that the cause of people disappearing in the hole was because of toxic fumes and oxygen deficiency in such confined space rather than the idea of them being eaten by a giant serpent.
In the early 1900s, the British administration had to guard the Old Gateway with fences to prevent any intruders from entering an opening. Sadly, the British took further action by covering the hole with a metal plate. If you were to step into the Old Gateway now, you can literally see some sort of sunken ground on the inner ground. The sunken ground might used to be the exact location of the opening that was covered with the metal plate. There is a joke among locals where they remind whoever wishes to step into the old gateway to not jump too hard on the ground or you might fall into the “tunnel”.
On 2nd February 1936, the Straits Times newspaper published an article entitled “Malacca Search for Buried Treasures hidden 300 years ago by Portuguese” and the staff reporter who wrote the article expressed great confidence for the discovery of underground tunnels under St. Paul’s Hill and the reporter even speculated that the real purpose of the excavation was to look for buried treasures.
It was written in the article that the “uncovering of the underground passage in St. Paul’s Hill in the coming excavations is believed to be virtual certainty. Whether it will lead to the entrance of other tunnels or the supposed hidden treasures are subjects of considerable speculation in the town of Malacca”.
Visit the Old Gateway, more commonly known as A’Famosa fort now! Capture your own findings, share your thoughts on the possibilities about the existence of the sunken ground. Don’t forget to tag us at @vivify.mp and we will share your post as well. Let’s get people to talk more about Melaka together.