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Unveiling Keppel Hill Reservoir Things to See and More!

Unveiling Keppel Hill Reservoir: Things to See and More!

Seasoned travellers know that Singapore has a lot more to offer than just shopping centres, heritage shophouses, and amusement parks. 

The island has dozens of hiking trails and parks, and if you’re feeling a little adventurous today, we have just the spot for you. 

Keppel Hill Reservoir is an abandoned (and possibly haunted) reservoir that several brave hikers visit for fun. 

If you’re looking for someplace new to discover in Singapore, we’ve cooked up a tell-all guide to exploring Keppel Hill Reservoir and the mysterious points of interest near it. 

Best Time to Go

The best time to go to Keppel Hill Reservoir is in the morning or mid-afternoon, on a sunny day. Since the reservoir is abandoned and relatively unknown to the public, it is unlikely for the area to be crowded with hikers or visitors. 

Rainy weather may cause the hilly terrain towards the reservoir to become slippery and potentially dangerous to hikers. If the weather is unreliable, reschedule your trip to the reservoir for another day.

How to Get There

By Train: The closest MRT stations to Keppel Hill Reservoir are the Telok Blangah Station and the Harbourfront Station. The former is located west of Keppel Hill while the latter is on the east. Both sides are roughly a 5 to 10-minute walk to Seah Im car park where an entrance to Keppel Hill from the Seah Im Bunker is located. 

By Bus: The closest bus stops to Keppel Hill Reservoir are the Bef Seah Im Road stop or the HarbourFront Bus Interchange. Both bus stops are just a 5-minute walk from Seah Im car park, but if you’re planning to enter Keppel Hill Reservoir from Wishart Road, the closest stop is Bef Seah Im Road. 

By Taxi or Car: Driving or hailing a taxi to Keppel Hill Reservoir is one of the fastest ways to get there. You can either park your car at Seah Im car park or tell the taxi driver to drop you off at the HarbourFront Bus Interchange. 

What is the history of Keppel Hill Reservoir?

Keppel Hill Reservoir is an abandoned reservoir built during the colonial period of Singapore. 

It was off the radar until 2014, after a team of researchers from the National Heritage Board came to discover that the reservoir had historically significant materials dating back to the 19th century. 

Little is known about the true date of when it was built, but Keppel Hill Reservoir was originally named the Keppel Harbour Power Station Reservoir in 1905. 

There are sources that state the reservoir’s excavation could date back as early as 1899 after New Harbour Company commissioned the building of a reservoir near Mount Faber. 

From 1905 to around 1925, Keppel Hill Reservoir supplied water to nearby villages and the Pasir Panjang Government Beriberi Hospital. 

After cases of malaria rose significantly in the area, the reservoir was flagged as one of the main breeding grounds of the fever. 

Keppel Hill Reservoir was also relatively tiny. It could only channel its supply to small areas, thus the reservoir’s use was short-lived. 

Residents in nearby villages as well as Japanese officers during the country’s occupation of Singapore in the 1940s used the abandoned reservoir as a swimming pool. 

Over the decades, Keppel Hill Reservoir’s popularity waned, and it was eventually forgotten by the locals. 

By 2000, the reservoir was completely unlisted from survey maps and remained forgotten until 2005. 

Charles Goh and a team of paranormal investigators came across the reservoir, thinking it was a huge lead on a lost tomb they were searching for in the area. 

Is Keppel Hill Reservoir haunted?

Although paranormal investigators rediscovered Keppel Hill Reservoir in 2005, there is no actual proof that Keppel Hill Reservoir is haunted. 

There are, however, speculations of paranormal activity in the area due to the number of freak accidents that occurred there. 

The first notable incident happened on April 6, 1936, after two Middlesex Regiment soldiers drowned in the reservoir. It was reported that the bodies of the two soldiers, Alfred Birch and Francis Hubbard, were found at the bottom of the reservoir. 

It took a team of 30 other soldiers and one diver to recover the bodies. Since then, The Middlesex Regiment soldiers were banned from stepping near the reservoir for fear of repeat incidents.

Another incident happened roughly ten years later, in 1946 when a man named Chew Teik Pin swam in the reservoir and drowned. 

Little is known about what truly happened in the incident, but his death was ruled as a misadventure the following month. 

Top Things to Do

Explore the grounds of No. 11 Keppel Hill House

When Keppel Hill Reservoir was still under the New Harbour Company in 1899, a house was built to serve as the main residence of the company’s manager. 

The No. 11 Keppel Hill House stands today as one of Singapore’s conservation projects because of its historical significance. 

The vacant house can be seen as you walk through 11 Keppel Hill, a trail that extends along the southern end of Keppel Hill. It is located southeast of the Keppel Hill Reservoir and almost directly south of the Japanese tomb. 

In order to visit No. 11 Keppel Hill House, permission must be granted from the Singapore Land Authority. It’s currently vacant but heavily protected, so trespassers are definitely not welcome there. 

Although it’s practically sealed off from the public, the house is still a wonderful sight to behold if you come across it during your trek. 

Look for steps that lead you to nowhere

If reading about Keppel Hill Reservoir’s haunted stories didn’t creep you out, you might want to get an up-close view of where the freak accidents happened. 

Since Keppel Hill Reservoir was turned into a swimming pool back in the 1930s and 1940s, you’ll find remnants of a diving platform just by the edge of the water. 

To add to the eerieness, there’s an old warning sign that says “Danger” at the opposite end of the reservoir. In case it isn’t obvious, you can’t swim in the water. 

Find your way to a Japanese tombstone dedicated to a naval engineer

East of the Keppel Hill Reservoir is a mysterious tombstone dedicated to Komoto Ekasa, a Japanese engineer who passed away due to overworking while being stationed in Singapore in 1942. 

The Imperial Japanese Navy commemorated Komoto’s hard work by building a tombstone facing Keppel Harbour in his honour. 

Apart from its secluded location, the tombstone’s existence is very much shrouded in mystery, leaving any hiker to wonder what Komoto Ekasa may have done to be honoured in such a way. 

Adding to the mystery is the fact that the Japanese decided to erect the tombstone on Keppel Hill instead of a cemetery. 

Very little is known about the backstory of this tombstone, but the sight of it adds an extra thrill to any hiker who comes by Keppel Hill Reservoir. 

Crouch or crawl in the Seah Im Bunker

If Keppel Hill isn’t mysterious enough, another point of interest that was only recently discovered is the Seah Im Bunker. Believed to have been built in World War II, the bunker was largely forgotten for decades before it was rediscovered in recent years. 

The Seah Im Bunker is located right behind Seah Im Carpark where a tall Kapok tree stands. 

The entrance is just right at the base of the tree, wherein you’ll need to pass around the fence to get to the other side. It’s astonishing how this old bunker stayed hidden for decades, knowing that a busy car park was just right next to it! 

The Seah Im Bunker is a little over one metre in height, so you’ll have to crouch down to enter it. It’s very dark, and the path takes you through a brick tunnel leading to a dead end, probably closed off for safety. 

The backstory of this bunker is a bit shaky, but it is believed to have been a storage unit for war supplies or as an air raid shelter during World War II. 

How to Hike Around Keppel Hill and to Keppel Hill Reservoir

DifficultyMedium  ●●●
Time needed25 to 30 minutes
Things you needHiking gear, water, insect repellant

The hike to Keppel Hill Reservoir is relatively shorter than most hiking trails in Singapore due to its size. Due to its close proximity to Mount Faber, many hikers pass by the reservoir on their way to Mount Faber Peak or vice versa. 

Here is a simple guide to start your trek to Keppel Hill Reservoir!

Step 1: Enter Seah Im Bunker through Seah Im car park

Start the trail by heading over to Seah Im Road car park, located just along Telok Blangah Road. For commuters, the closest bus stations to the car park are HarbourFront Bus Interchange and the Bef Seah Im Road Station. 

On the far right side of the car park from the entrance is a tall Kapok tree and a plaque near a narrow opening.

The lush forest surrounding Keppel Hill is actually fenced, so it’s important to pass through the narrow opening by the side of the tree to enter. This is an easier route to enter Keppel Hill compared to Mount Faber, so it’s friendly to beginners or newbies. 

Seah Im Bunker sits just behind the Kapok tree, so it’s easy to spot once you get to the other side of the fence. 

Step 2: Head towards Wishart Road and walk towards the junction to Keppel Hill Road

Exit back to Seah Im car park and walk towards Wishart Road which is just to the right. The road is just a few metres past the Bef Seah Im Road Station, so keep making your way until you find shophouses along Wishart Road. 

Take another right and walk up the hill to Keppel Hill Road until you reach a junction. It becomes a little steep from here, so make your way up slowly and steadily.

Step 3: Walk up towards No. 11 Keppel Hill House

The junction at Keppel Hill Road takes you to two destinations, but for this guide, we recommend taking the right side path towards No. 11 Keppel Hill House. As mentioned earlier, you can’t enter the actual house but can view the entrance from the roadside. 

Step 4: Walk back towards the junction and take the left turn

After visiting the Keppel Hill House, make your way back to the junction and take the left side path this time. The path looks a little different from the road and becomes muddier the further you go.

Step 5: Cross the concrete beam and walk towards Keppel Hill Reservoir

Follow the muddy path until you find a concrete beam that sits above a stream. Be careful when crossing, as the beam is a little narrow. 

Just a few metres away is Keppel Hill Reservoir. Take as many pictures as you can in this area, but don’t jump into or swim in the water.

Keppel Hill Reservoir is surrounded by lush greenery and sloped terrain, so be careful when walking around the area to avoid slipping. 

Step 6: Continue hiking up and eastward towards the Japanese tombstone

Just to the east of the reservoir is the Japanese tombstone. It’s hidden at the foot of Mount Faber, so the terrain here is muddy and rough. 

The closer you get to the tombstone, the less rugged the terrain will be. Eventually, you’ll reach a flight of stairs leading to the tombstone. 

Take as many pictures as you can or enjoy the secluded forest scenery as you take a break from the uphill climb. 

The route to head back is the same, just in reverse. It takes about 15 minutes to reach the tomb from the Keppel Hill Reservoir, so it’s a relatively easy and short hike for veteran hikers and newbies alike. 

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