Etymology

Bukit Timah, which literally means "tin hill" in Malay, was already identified on the 1828 map by Frankin and Jackson as Bukit Timah. The hill was depicted on the map towards the northwest as two hills at the eastern source of the Kranji River.

Since the interior of the island was not fully explored at that time, the location and name of the hill for the map probably came from the Malay community. According to one source, Bukit Timah has nothing to do with tin. The original Malay name for the hill was Bukit Temak, meaning "hill of the temak trees", referring to pokok temak, a tree that grew abundantly on the slopes of the hill. However, to the western ear, Temak in Malay enunciation sounded like Timah, hence Bukit Timah. Some say that timah is an abbreviation of Fatimah, a popular Malay girl's name.
In December 1843, a carriage way road was completed leading up to the hill. A small hut with chairs was constructed for visitors. The hill was viewed then as an "excellent sanatorium", as the air was "cooler and fresher than the plain, producing an agreeable exhilaration of spirits".
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