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 Bujang Valley - Merbok
Ben van Wijnen

"The grounds are a peaceful setting and really interesting for those who are taken by the Buddhist history of Malaysia, for people who are Buddhist or for those who like parks/gardens, history and the outdoors. The archeological digs are very interesting. The museum is small but detailed and educational. Good amenities for visitors but really in the middle of nowhere. I really liked it."

Historical museum
The Archeological Museum

The Bujang Valley is one of the most underrated archaeological sites in Malaysia and it is really worth a visit to spend. The Bujang Valley extends from the Gunung Jerai in the north to the Sungai Muda (river) in the south.
It is a large historic park like complex near the little town Merbok. At the entrance is a little museum (air-conditioned) in a building. The admission of the Bujang Valley Archaeological Museumis free. Inside you'll find many artefacts, which are found in this area. Relics include inscribed stone caskets and tablets, metal tools and ornaments, ceramics, pottery, inscriptions, Buddha Statues and Hindu icons. In the Valley Bujang you'll find remains of more than 50 Hindu temples, called candi.
On the grounds of the museum you'll find some of these temples. Archaeological research indicates, that there has been an ancient Hindu-Buddhist kingdom in this valley possibly as early as 300 CE.

From the 2nd century AD traders of the Middle East and India searched for an alternative route to replace the Silk Road to China overland. The Indian merchants sailed with their ships eastward. After a few weeks sailing the saw a big mountain at the end of the horizon: the Gunung Jerai.
It was the imposing peak of Mount Jerai that first captivated the travel weary traders from the Far East to anchor at Bujang Valley. After travelling for months in the high seas, the 1,217 metre Mount Jerai must have been a welcoming sight for the seafarers.
That was a landmark for the sailors after so many weeks at sea.

The route to China was too long to sail and the monsoon arrived. Heavy rainfall and devastating hurricanes are dangerous at sea. Their ships could go down!
They had to wait until the monsoon was over.
It was impossible to make the long journey from India to China in one year time. Therefore they sought a secluded place on the mainland. They found a perfect place at the foot of Gunung Jerai in Malaysia: the Bunjang Valley!

Chandi (tempel)

Now they could wait quietly until the monsoon was over. So they founded a trading center in the Bujang Valley. They were trading rainforest produce in return for metals, textiles and other rarities.
They stayed here from the 5th to the 14th century. We can divide this period into a Buddhist phase (5th to the 10th century and the Hindu-phase (10th to 14th century). This allowed Hinduism and Buddhism spread throughout Malaysia. Archaeological research has concluded that here around 300 AD a Hindu-Buddhist kingdom was founded. Old tales from the legend stories of a great kingdom of jewels and gold, that there must have been. Many people in this region believe in it. In India even go the stories in the round that expensive cars and gold jewellery are hidden caves and Gunung Jerai.

By the 7th century, Bujang Valley had evolved into a flourishing entrepot. It was also the first port in Southeast Asia - via its sea route - to link an alternative route to East and West Asia. This route was known as the Spice Route. It offered an alternative to the Silk Road, which connected Chinese and Far East traders by land. The valley continued to prosper until the emergence of the Sultanate of Malacca in the early 15th century.

Hindoe tempel xx The construction of the candi can be divided into four categories based on the material used i.e. granite, bricks, laterite, or river rocks. The roof was carried by wooden or stone pillars. Obviously the roofing has been perished in past 1200 years. None has been left.

The Candi has two functions:
1) it is a sacred place to pay respect to the deceased members of the royal families.
2) it is a place to conduct religious activities.

Since the discovery of the first temple, more temple ruins have been found. To date, a total of 50 temples have been reported. Some of them have been partly reconstructed or relocated and some remain at their original sites, still open for new discoveries.

Hindu images have been excavated at the various candi sites such as the Ganesha (the elephant faced deity) and the Durga (the consort of Siva) and a bronze image of Lord Vishnu. Buddhist images were also found during excavation at sites nearby.

Inside the Archaeological Museum is also a beautiful model of the whole area of the Bujang Valley.
The museum is located in a very natural environment against Batu Pahat hill of the Gunung Jerai mountain.
The grounds of the archaeological museum located against the tropical rainforest and close to some waterfalls. Visitors to this area can go hiking, picnicking and swimming on the grounds of the museum. There are enough parking places.

This inscription in stone, is called the Buddhagupta inscription. It is one of the older inscriptions, which is found in the region of the Bujang Valley. This stone was excavated in Seberang Perai. This town lies on the mainland opposite Penang.

The stone dates from the 5th century and was made by the captain of a ship, which was called Buddhagupte. This inscription in stone is a thanksgiving to Buddha for the successful voyage.
The Buddhagupte came from a region in India, which was called Raktamrttika. Yhe region is near the Bay of Bengal. Today this region is called: Rajbadidanga. The stone refers to the relationship between international trade Bujang Valley in Malaysia and India.

Getting to..:
The Bujang Valley Archaeological Museum is 2.5 km from Merbok town. There is no direct public transport to the museum, however, visitors can hire a taxi from the nearest town, Sungai Petani, which is only a 20-minute drive from Merbok town.
Alternatively, they can also get a taxi from the capital city of Kedah, Alor Star which is 60 km from Merbok town. The state of Kedah is the oldest state in Malaysia and located in the northern part of the Peninsular.

Lembah Bujang Archaeological Museum,
Merbok, Bedung, 08400 Kedah
Tel : +604 457 2005
Fax : +604 457 4185

Opening Hours:
09.00 - 17.00 hours (daily)

The Bujang Valley Archaeological Museum is open daily from 9.00 am until 5.00 pm except during Hari Raya Aidilfitri and Hari Raya Haji. Entrance is free to this museum.


Buddhagupta Inscriptie






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