PETALING JAYA: Mountains have captivated the imagination since the dawn of man, the towering pinnacles inspiring fear and wonder alike.
Malaysia has its own fair share of legendary peaks – think Gunung Santubong and Gunung Kinabalu – yet, the mountain with the greatest claim to mythical fame has to be the highest one in Johor.
Dominating the landscape, the 1,276m-high Gunung Ledang is home to a large array of fauna and flora, some of which are rarely found anywhere else.
Natural attractions aside, this popular tourist attraction is also famed for its supernatural beauty, one whose story is still being told to this day.
This, of course, is none other than the legend of Puteri Gunung Ledang.
A brief history lesson: as chronicled in “Sejarah Melayu”, Sultan Mansur Shah, the sixth Melakan sultan, wished to marry the recently widowed princess of Gunung Ledang.
Hang Tuah, legendary warrior of Melaka, was sent to the mountain with the sultan’s proposal but, owing to his age, was unable to complete the journey. His compatriot, Tun Mamat, reached the peak instead.
There, an old woman appeared before him and gave him the conditions to be fulfilled before the princess would accept the sultan’s hand. Among other things, the princess called for seven trays of mosquito hearts and a vat of virgin tears.
The sultan nevertheless agreed to the conditions, including the princess’ request for a cup of blood from his own son, and was about to cut him open when she magically appeared before him.
The princess denounced the sultan for his cruelty, declaring she would never give her hand in marriage to a man like him.
And thus, she returned to her mountainous domain and there she has stayed, her story – and reported supernatural sightings – keeping her alive through the ages.
Legends and hearsay notwithstanding, Gunung Ledang National Park is a green space that is worth visiting simply because it provides travellers with a well-deserved break from the hustle and bustle of city life.
Tour packages are offered by the national park, with guides, accommodation and meals all provided.
Those who don’t intend on hiking up the slopes can stop by the visitor centre, which has a herbal garden featuring plants found on the mountain, as well as a natural stream for kids to cool off in.
So, be it for exercise, leisure, self-enrichment or pure curiosity, be sure to spend time at Gunung Ledang. Who knows? You just might see the true beauty of the mountain with your own eyes!
Visit the official website of the Gunung Ledang National Park.
Taman Negara Johor Gunung Ledang
Batu 26, Jalan Segamat,
84020 Sagil, Ledang, Johor
Contact: 06-963 1030/ 019-777 2057
An art gallery like no other
While you’re at the peak, take a look southward and you might just catch a glimpse of the coastal town of Muar, where another place of interest awaits.
The Muar Art Gallery & Café is a community enrichment centre that defies the misperception that art galleries have to be uninteresting.
Did you know that Muar is sometimes called the “Furniture City of Malaysia”? Indeed, 60% of exported local furniture is manufactured here.
As such, examples of these household products are featured in the Furniture Centre on the third floor of the gallery, highlighting the town’s significance to the furniture industry.
Much of the rattan used to create these tables and chairs were grown in the outskirts of Muar itself. In fact, many of these furniture pieces were made by local talents.
The gallery also functions as a hangout for artists, and houses a café where locals can bond over a hot coffee and kuih.
On the ground floor adjacent to the café is the Art Space, where laughter and chatter can be heard for most of the day. Here, children and adults from the vicinity spend time sharpening their artistic skills – and, well, to simply have fun!
Woodworking workshops are frequently held, the wood obtained from Muar’s furniture makers who often have little use for smaller pieces of leftover timber.
Racks on to the walls show off the creations made by Muar’s enterprising children, ranging from little toys to jewellery boxes.
Speaking with FMT Lifestyle, Muar Art Gallery & Café founder Ken Lee said he started the gallery in 2016 as a way of giving back to his community.
The furniture entrepreneur shared that the venue often hosts local performing musicians, including the Muar choir and orchestra, who regularly rehearse in one of the spaces upstairs.
And this September, the gallery will be hosting a musical festival on its premises. “All are welcome to join, as we want people to see the best that Muar has to offer,” Lee concluded.
Muar Art Gallery & Café
66-1, Jalan Junid,
84000 Muar, Johor
Business hours: 8am-10pm daily
This article was written as part of a Johor agrotourism visit organised by Tourism Malaysia.