Masjid Panglima Kinta, Ipoh was recognised by the Department of National heritage as an important heritage building. Built on a 45,000 square feet site adjacent to the Kinta River, it was the first mosque to be constructed in Kinta by Dato’ Panglima Kinta Mohd Yusof bin Salam. Although it is said that the purpose of the building was to commemorate the loss of his wife, it had served as a centre to fulfil the needs of the Malay community of Kampung Kuchai and the surrounding neighbourhoods. Usually, the administration of Malaysian mosques is run by the committee or qariah voted by the local majority. However, Masjid Panglima Kinta is chaired by an individual appointed by His Royal Highness, the Sultan of Perak, with the title Orang Besar Jajahan Kinta (Territorial Chief of Kinta) or better known as Dato’ Panglima Kinta. This tradition is still ongoing.
Carefully planned in linear form, a madrasah (Islamic School) was built at the front of the mosque and ended with a Muslim cemetery located at the rear near the port. This method is a complete package for mosque designs whereby activities, especially religious-related activities enlivened the surrounding area. Today, modernisation in Ipoh has claimed its ownership. Kampung Kuchai was abandoned as many people had migrated from the rural areas to the urban region. Parallel to these circumstances, Masjid Panglima Kinta is now without a proper community. However, the mosque still manages to draw good support from visitors and city dwellers, with numbers increasing each year due to the growing development around the mosque.
In general, the Panglima Kinta Mosque is juxtaposed between Moorish and Vernacular Architecture. It was built in a rectangular form, approximately 40 metres in length and 25 metres in width. The prayer hall is distinguished by a square shape enclosed with a two-tiered pyramid as roof. The roof emphasises vernacular architectural elements of the tropical climate and is enhanced by Moorish and Colonial details. However, the pyramid roof is hidden behind blocks of the parapet wall to accentuate the dome as a dominant element on top. The doors and windows are assembled in horseshoe arches with a parapet wall that portrays the Moorish elements that encircle the entire building. These features represent a dominant facade that had formed the main characteristic of the mosque.
The building has an extension to the ablution and toilet areas on the left side of the prayer hall. The design also adapts to the local climate by building rows of windows and arches on the external walls to maximize natural ventilation and lighting. Moreover, it has two minarets on the right and left sides attached at the front. These three storeyed minarets are connected by corridors equipped with a timber spiral staircase as to reach to the top of each minaret. The size and mass of the minarets complete with exceptional Malay ornaments and its finial have made the mosque an attractive focal point that can been seen from afar.
This mosque adheres to the standard space requirements of a mosque. People are welcomed by the front porch that is linked by balconies before entering the prayer hall. Corridors surround the prayer hall with access from all corners so as to allow users to move about freely and at the same time serve as a supplementary praying area. The prayer hall can accommodate 400 people at the most, while an additional 200 people can use the corridors at peak hours, especially during the Friday Prayers. The mihrab was built at the centre of the front part of the prayer hall extended beyond the wall line. The space is completed by the minbar on the right side, made of hardwood with intricate and fine craftsmanship resembles the Malay culture.
The main materials used for this building are lime plaster and bricks. It is mostly used to construct vertical structures such as the wall and finished in white paint with strokes of blue lines. The limestone and masonry came from the limestone hill around Kinta valley. Whereas on the floor especially along the corridor, the ceramic tiles are influenced by the Moorish design and used as finishes. It is in red match the colour of the two-tiered pyramidal roof above. The dome was built with the use of concrete and plaster finishes to complete the overall architectural look. Today, the distinctive design of the floor tiles is concealed below the carpet which was installed later, particularly in the main prayer hall.
In conclusion, Masjid Panglima Kinta features unique and extraordinary architectural details embroidered between the Malay world and the east. It is conveyed not only in the shape and form of the building, but also in the use of colossal columns, walls, stained glass windows, finial, ceramic floor tiles and minarets. Hence, it is especially important to preserve this mosque as a heritage monument because of its outstanding architecture and its cultural influences to the Malay world, so that it can be valued by generations to come.