Singapore may appear to be largely urbanized, but one can still enjoy the beauty of natural landscapes around the island. We may not have vast mountains or valleys, but at least there are several rocky outcrops, hills, shorelines, and even a hot spring to admire. Here are several facts about geological land-forms in Singapore that you probably knew little about.
One of Singapore’s most massive landforms is ironically called Little Guilin, mainly because it is a smaller version of the expansive natural features in Guilin, southern China. Unlike the limestone karst and river gorge found in Guilin, Little Guilin is a flooded quarry situated off Bukit Batok MRT station made of gabbro, a type of igneous or volcanic rock. This grey-black rock is commonly used in concrete aggregates, as a road base material, for kitchen countertops, and even in graveyard headstones. The landform at Bukit Batok also consists of lighter grey streaks, attributed to granite dykes that have cut into the gabbro when the rocky outcrop was first formed. As beautiful as this place seems, it is said to be haunted by the spirits of those who died in quarry accidents or drowned in the lake.
Even if you have not scaled this 164-metre hill, chances are you would have driven by it along the Bukit Timah Expressway or Pan Island Expressway. Bukit Timah Hill is made of igneous granite, a rock that was so sufficiently present in Singapore that it was exploited to construct roads during the early days. Bukit Timah granite has been around since the Middle to Late Triassic period, that’s about 245 million years ago when dinosaurs roamed the Earth! Today, Bukit Timah Hill sits in a protected nature reserve and is home to many of Singapore’s native flora and fauna, including the endemic commelinid, Hanguana neglecta and two species of freshwater crabs.
Also known as Batu Berlayar or Sailing Rock in Malay, the Dragon’s Teeth Gate refers to the pebbly sandstone (not granitic) outcrops that once stood at Keppel Harbour. It was previously a hideout for pirates, as well as a prominent landmark for Chinese navigators like Zheng He, to find his way around the waters off Singapore during his voyage in the 14th century. In 1349, the Chinese historian Wang Da Yuan called it the Long Ya Men or Dragon’s Teeth Gate owing to the shape of the rock. Subsequently, the British blew up the outcrop in mid-1848 to widen the channel for larger vessels to sail through to Keppel Harbour. Thankfully, a painting of the original landform existed and allowed for the reconstruction of this replica that currently stands at Labrador Park.
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