Regularly during my stay in George Town I used to pass by this mosque, right in the center of the old town. There is a big lawn around it and the building is in the typical Indo-Saracenic or Moorish style, so popular during the days of the British Empire in this part of the world. There are domes and arches and a minaret standing separately.
The mosque is the largest in town, but also the oldest, going back to the times of Sir George Leith, the Lieutenant-Governor of Penang. At the beginning of the 19th century he granted to the leader of the 'Chulia's', as the Muslim Tamils immigrants here were known, the land to build a mosque. Not far from the mosque is Lebuh Chulia, one of the most famous street of George Town. The name is derived from the once famous Chola Empire in southern India, who had expanded all the way to Indonesia.
'Kapitan' was in early British times the title for a leader of an Ethnic community. 'Keling' is a Malay name for Indians, referrring to the historical Kalinga Empire in central East India. Once it had been a neutral word, today it is considered derogatory. The Kapitan Keling mosque, the way we see it now, is mainly the result of an enlargement in the 1930's. It is open to non-Muslims, except at prayer time, and tours are offered.