Istana Jahar which is located near Istana Balai Besar is among the interesting palaces found around the city of Kota Bharu. It was first constructed during the reign of Sultan Muhammad II (1837-1886) after the opening of Kota Bharu city and the construction of Istana Balai Besar.
The construction of Istana Jahar by Sultan Muhammad II was a gift to his grandson Long Kundur Bendahara. Following the demise of Sultan Muhammad II in 1886, the Kelantan State throne was replaced by Long Sulong which reigned with the title Sultan Ahmad. At the time of his reign the construction of Istana Jahar was continued until its completion.
In 1889, after three years on the State throne, Sultan Ahmad died and was succeeded by Long Kundur Bendahara with the title Sultan Muhammad III. He made Istana Jahar his place of residence, besides Istana Balai Besar.
During the reign of Sultan Muhamad IV, he made Istana Balai Besar as his place of residence. However Istana Jahar was still being used. The palace did not have a name until 1911 after Sultan Muhamad IV returned from a visit to Singapore and repaired the palace. The palace was given the name Istana Jahar, taken from the name of a type of flower adorning the palace lawn. The palace was then given to his prince Tengku Ismail, titled Tengku Seri Indera Mahkota.
After the demise of Sultan Muhamad IV in 1920, his prince Tengku Ismail replaced him on the Kelantan State throne with the title Sultan Ismail. Sultan Ismail did not take up residence in Istana Balai Besar, instead took up residence in Istana Jahar, the palace bequeathed by his late father.
The following Sultans of Kelantan such as Sultan Ibrahim (1944-1960) and Sultan Yahya Petra (1961-1979) did no longer take up residence in Istana Jahar, instead had their own private palaces.
Istana Jahar is now turned into the Kelantan State Royal Museum. The museum exhibits the royal history of the state from the early days right up until the reign of the current Sultan of Kelantan. The exhibition spaces available in the museum building are divided into several parts such as weaponry, traditional attires, and other articles related to the sultanate. Although it has been converted into a museum, the original design of the building is still well preserved. Its unique architecture with intricate carvings has furthermore graced this museum palace building.
Istana Jahar which is located by the side of Istana Balai Besar in the heart of Kota Bharu city is a fine and impressive example of a Malay architectural heritage. If you happen to stop by here, Istana Jahar and the other palaces are clearly evident in the midst of new and modern buildings. The rapid development of the surrounding area has not affected these national heritage buildings that have many historical secrets in store.