If you live in KB, you would know that there is a guest palace there at the top end on the right of Jalan Maulana just after the roundabout heading towards Kuala Belait. The palace has tall white walls with a label that says Istana Manggalela. For those who do not know where that is, use my description to find it. But if you do find it, ask permission before taking photographs. Last December when I went there with my family wanting to take a photo in front of the gate, an armed gurkha came out and said I was not allowed to do that.
Anyway, the Istana was built in 1956 and completed in 1958 and was originally designed to be the palace for His Majesty Sultan Haji Omar Ali Saifuddien whenever he visited Kuala Belait. Remember in those days, the roads linking the capital to KB was in its infancy and in some parts cars can only be driven along the coast. At some places, you have to wait until the tide goes out before you can drive across. Unlike today's one hour drive, in those days, the BSB-KB trip can take as long as one day or more. So a palace was essential for the Sultan whenever he goes to KB.
The original name of the palace was not Istana Manggalela, it was originally called Istana Hinggap - 'hinggap' is a Malay word meaning to stay temporarily. In Malaysia, this is widely used, in fact, there are still a few palaces called Istana Hinggap there.
Where does the name 'Manggalela' come from? According to an article I read in the Berita Muzium which gets their sources from a newspaper called Berita Brunei April and July 1958, the name was derived from an old battle which happened in Padas, Weston in Beaufort, Sabah.
During the North Borneo Chartered Company days which then already controlled parts of North Borneo (Sabah), the Company wanted to own all the lands in Sabah including Padas which at that time still was still governed by the Brunei Sultan under the leadership of a Brunei noble named Pengiran Shahbandar Hassan. The Bruneians living around that region protested and the North Borneo Company sent its army. During that battle, the North Borneo army failed to defeat the Bruneians. Part of the reason it was said that around the Manggalela Fort, the defenders had put up a white cloth curtain as a shield against the army and bullets supposedly did not go through it. The shield was considered as 'magical'.
I found an interesting description of the battle named the 'Padas Damit Battle' in the Sabah local government homepage which described the battle. There was no mention of any magic bullet proof curtain but what was important was the building of a very strong fort made up of eight foot tall round wooden pillars at Kampung Galila which prevented the well armed British army from attacking. And what was also important was the bravery of the locals who were only armed with knives and swords as opposed to guns and cannons. It was a long battle and fought between the two sides between December 1888 to May 1889. The locals eventually lost when the British declared them as pirates and started to kill them one by one. The British eventually took over the area and renamed the whole area as Beaufort in 1895 after Governor Beaufort who was the British Governor based in Labuan then.
The name of the Istana was chosen in commemoration of the bravery and skills of the locals at that battle. The Istana is also a listed building under the Antiquities and Treasure Trove Act.