Not as gigantic as Giza’s Pyramid or Acropolis’ Parthenon, or popular as neighbouring Angkor Wat, not many people realize that Malaysia also offers something not less captivating than above. Nestled between forests, mountain and rivers in northern state of Kedah, archaeological wonder Lembah Bujang is a remaining proof of ‘existence of a trade and Hindu/Buddhism propagation center in Southeast Asia from the third to the 12th century A.D.

Lembah Bujang was a central port which served as a trade center for traders dominating the trading routes between the eastern and western countries especially the Chinese, Indian and Arab traders as well as Malay traders in the Malay archipelago who monopolized spice and exotic jungle goods trade for Middle East export.

Lembah Bujang’s significance as Southeast Asia’s central port was evident in archaeological finds and writings of Chinese and Arab seamen as well as in Indian literatures. These chronicles, dated between the 2nd and 14th century AD, told of the existence of a prosperous and bustling kingdom in Lembah Bujang that was known as the “seat of all felicities”.

Besides being the Nusantara’s ultimate trading center, it was also the focal point of Hindu/Buddha propagation in Southeast Asia during the 3rd to the 12th century, which proved of the existence of Buddhisme with Pala Mahayana influences from southern India. This faith was brought and practiced by Hindu/Buddhist Indian traders who came trading at Lembah Bujang, as stated by Museum Department.

Long time ago, for traders and sailors, the 1,217 metre Gunung Jerai was a landmark which could be seen from far. A bustling port and prosperous kingdom, the place keeps a 1500-year-old history of old Malay Kingdom which a mixture of traditions with many names – Kalagam, Qalha, Katahanagara or Langkasuka. The history was so old, much earlier than emergence of Malacca in 15th century A.D.

Today, some precious archaeological wonders left include Candi or Temples, scattered around the area – with much more need to be unearth. Among the great ones is the Candi Bukit Batu Pahat, which is the biggest and most significant. It was excavated and reconstructed in the late 1950s, and believe to be built in 11th century A.D.

Candi Pendiat, found in the left bank of Bujang River was excavated in 1974, and believed to be built in 9th century A.D. The main building was made of laterite blocks, granite and bricks.

Other notable temples ARE Candi Bendang Dalam and Candi Pangkalan Bujang. Both were built in 12th century A.D and 11 centry A>D respectively, much to the influence of Hindduism and Buddhism.

Interestingly, some artefacts found in those temples include ceramic shards, Middle Eastern glass and gemstones, charcoal, resin, statuettes, gold ring, iron nails, Chinese porcelain, Indian tridents – fits explanation that Lembah Bujang was a centre port which attracted all corners of the world to trade here.

For historical enthusiasts, visitors may opt to visit The Bujang Valley Archaeological Museum, to understand more about the background. It is the only museum in Malaysia which exhibits archaeological collections excavated from the sites. 

Bujang Valley, State of Kedah

Location                             : 24 km from Sungai Petani town, or 83km from Penang Airport
Tour                                    : Personal/student package tours offered
Web                                    : www.riversidetravel.com.my
Tel                                       : +604-442 2990
Other Informative web   : http://lembahbujang.com/

The Bujang Valley Archaeological Museum

Address                      : 08400 Merbok District, Kedah
Open                           : Daily
Time                            : 9.00 am to 5.00 pm
Email                           : pr.malb@jmm.gov.my
Contact                      : +604-457 2005