Bujang Valley (Lembah Bujang) is home to an archaeological museum exhibiting collections and ruins which evidence the existence of a thriving civilisation in this area from the third to the 14th centuries AD.
Lembah Bujang was called “Nusantara” and its strategic position was known to traders from China, India and the Middle East.
They say that if you launch a boat from the Coramandel Coast of Southern India and allow it to drift along with the natural currents, it would eventually wash ashore on this stretch of the Malaysian peninsula, close to Kedah Peak (Gunung Jerai) which has acted as a landmark and navigational aid to sailors for centuries.
The architectural remains and cultural artefacts found at Bujang Valley and the surrounding area prove that a Hindu-Buddhist civilisation existed here until the early 1100’s.
In 1864, Colonel James Low started digging around in this area. Subsequent research during the period 1936-1939 by H G Quaritch Wales and his wife Dorothy documented 30 candi sites here.
The word candi (pronounced Chandi) refers to Hindu and Buddhist architecture dating from before the coming of Islam. The word is derived from Chandika, the wife of Lord Siva.
More discoveries were made and research carried out in the following decades.
Bukit Batu Pahat Temple is the main temple at the site, built around 2000 years ago.
Lembah Bujang Archaeological Museum
The museum was built in 1978. Various artefacts are displayed inside the museum including pottery, stone caskets, tablets, metal tools, ornaments, ceramics, statues, jewellery and iron nails.
The grounds surrounding the museum building are where the candi are found.
Some have always been here while others, such as Candi Pengkalan Bujang were found nearby and relocated here in the 1970s.
Candi Pengkalan Bujang is an eight-sided structure forming the foundations of a stupa. The superstructure would have been made from wood.
The museum is situated in a beautiful and secluded valley, ideal for picnics and relaxing.
Although Lembah Bujang cannot compare with Angkor Wat or Borobodur, it is historically significant and well worth a visit. It is also free and uncrowded.
Bujang Valley Archaeological Museum
242 A, Bangunan Dispensari Lama
08400 Pekan Merbok, Kedah
Tel: 04-457 2005
Open daily: 9am to 5pm. Closed on the first two days of Hari Raya)
This article first appeared in malaysia-traveller.com