Located on top of the hill along Jalan Babu Raja, rose the Balai Khazanah Islam Sultan Haji Hassanal Bolkiah (SHHB). An imposing building that sits just opposite the Darul Ifta’, it stands wide with its four towers towering over the main building. Designed based on Bruneian and Islamic architecture, it is a sight in itself.
A potential one-stop Islamic tourist centre, the Balai Khazanah Islam SHHB contains nine galleries, encapsulating objects from various aspects of Islamic civilisation and history, from ages past to the current day. A modern heritage museum, it is fitted with interactive screens and projectors for a more immersive experience. It is as its name suggests, a treasury; full of priceless artifacts and manuscripts, a display of knowledge, from His Majesty’s personal collection as well as the rest of the world.
However, it is more than just a showcase as the term its previous name, ‘pameran’ suggests. The transition in name to ‘khazanah’ is also meant to echo the sentiments of Baitul Hikmah, the greatest Islamic library recorded in history; to collect, preserve, study, and to spread Islamic knowledge and its heritage, supporting a more comprehensive civilisation.
Upon entering the Balai Khazanah Islam SHHB, visitors are greeted with a cool, airy, spacious entrance where they are greeted by the largest Quran contained within the walls of the building. It sits open in a glass case, with lights illuminating the final verses of Surah Al-Isra and the first verses of Al-Kahfi, inviting visitors to begin their tour of the khazanah.
Each of the galleries welcomes visitors with a verse from the Quran to match with its allocated contents. The first gallery, “The King’s Wisdom” is framed by two golden pillars, marking the start into the heart of the khazanah. The only gallery located on the ground floor, it exits to an indoor black-tiled pool, with lighted water spouts, beneath a staircase leading up to the rest of the khazanah.
Among the trove of treasures inside the Balai Khazanah Islam SHHB, the most outstanding of all is perhaps in the third gallery. It contains a room specifically allocated for the keepsake of a strand of the noble hair that was once on the head of Prophet Muhammad SAW. Guarded even inside the room, visitors must remove their shoes before entering. It sits in the middle of the room, in a glass case propped with a magnifying glass for viewing.
Visitors should be aware that taking photos and videos are not allowed inside the galleries. However, the corridors in between the galleries, the pool, fountains, and the garden outside are still a sight to be captured. Also, make way for the doors to the right of the inner pool with its water spouts, where there lies a fossil tree, its length spanning the long room from end to end.
Should you desire for a breath of fresh air, make an exit and look for a quaint surau surrounded by a small garden, giving off a middle-eastern vibe with its water fountains, phoenix palms, and fresh jasmines. Benches are also provided for a lazy afternoon relaxation.
Anyone interested is welcome to visit the Balai Khazanah Islam Sultan Haji Hassanal Bolkiah from Tuesday to Sunday, between 9.00am to 5.00pm, or on Fridays from 9.00am to 11.00am and 2.00pm to 5.00pm.