Historical records reveal that Ming Dynasty’s Admiral Cheng Ho (Zheng He) visited Melaka (Malacca) at least five times during his famous seven voyages to the Western Ocean (Southeast Asia, Indian Ocean, Middle East and Africa). He set up a huge warehouse complex along the northern side of the Melaka River. Thus far, there has been no serious investigation made on this fascinating topic. Some people claim that Zheng He’s warehouse was located in Bukit Cina because there is a Sampo (or San Bao referring to Cheng Ho) well and the area is named Sampo Hill. However, many others do not agree. The exact location of Cheng Ho’s warehouse is certainly worth serious study.

 

Cheng Ho Navigation Map in Wubeizi showing the location of Man-la-ka (Melaka) and Guan Chang

 

In 2000, attention was drawn to a cluster of dilapidated ancient buildings in the old part of Melaka town. At least three of them could have been built two or three hundred years ago. All of them have Ming architectural style. This discovery immediately rekindled interest on the mysterious location of the warehouse complex or Guang Chang mentioned in Ma Huan’s book Ying Yai Sheng Lan.

 

Convinced by the fact that most ancient ports are located at river mouths, it is believed that the ancient Guan Chang could be sited on the present location of Cheng Ho Cultural Museum. After three years of intensive research, many convincing evidence were found including relics found in the original house and dug up in the ground. A detailed description of the evidence can be obtained in the book Cheng Ho and Malacca written by Tan Ta Sen.

The original Guan Chang covered an area of approx. 10 acres of low land opposite the Malay Sultan Palace, shown in pink on the map.

Present-day Melaka River is about 1/3 of its original width. This stretch shown in the photo passes beside the Palace on the left and Guan Chang on the right and empties into the Melaka Straits about 150m from here.

Descriptions by Ma Huan were used to reconstruct the Guan Chang in the design of the façade and interior of the museum. For instance, a pair of watch towers (drum and bell tower) at the front of the Museum just as it is described by Ma Huan in his book, are constructed. These have been removed subsequently.

 
It is believed that the present Museum is situated on the original site of Guan Chang built by Cheng Ho, the Ming Grand eunuch, about 600 years ago. His mighty fleet of several hundred ships sailed seven times to the Western Ocean from China from 1405 to 1433.