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Bujang Valley, Candi Bukit Batu Pahat


The Bujiang Valley does not belong to Penang state (it belongs to Kedah) but we'd like to mention it here because of it's historical relevance for the whole area. The 2000 years old Candi Bukit Batu Pahat and other younger temples get hardly the attention they deserve based on their age. Not only are the temple foundations very well preserved, they also represent some of Malaysia's oldest monuments. I found it very educational, entertaining and interesting despite I was the only visitor at the museum.

Bujang Valley, Candi Bukit Batu Pahat

Candi Bukit Batu Pahat

Bujang Valley

The Bujang Valley is located 28 km northwest of Sungai Petani at the foot of Gunung Jerai. When the temples where build this area was connected directly to the sea. Nowadays the sea is several km's further west but at the time, it must have been an important trading center.

Although in the area more than 50 temples have been found, the 4 temples at Merbok are the most impressive and best preserved. What is left of the temples is mostly foundations. But even the foundations show this was once a rich and important civilization predating many other temple complexes in south east Asia.

The 4 temples in Bujang Valley

The 4 temples in Bujang Valley

Findings in the area are now on display in the museum at the temple site.  These findings belong to a Hindu-Buddhist kingdom almost 2000 years old. The kings had adopted the Indian culture and religion of the time, which shows there were already more or less intensive connections between the Malay archipelago and the Indian subcontinent.

Relics found include tool made of metal, inscribed stone caskets, tablets and ornaments, ceramics, pottery, and Hindu icons.

Findings in the Bujang Valley

Findings in the Bujang Valley

Candi Bukit Batu Pahat

Candi Bukit Batu Pahat, Merbok, KedahCandi Bukit Batu Pahat is the main temple in the Bujiang Valley. It was found by Dr. Quaritch Wales during an archaeological survey in 1936 and 1937. A few decades later Alastair Lamb continued research in 1959 and 1960. The collapsed temple was reconstructed at it's original place.

Findings in the area suggest the roof was made of palm leaves with 67 pillar bases, 39 were Vimana, the other were Mandapa columns proving it was a Hindu temple.

Special attention to these findings were 8 closed religuaries, each with 9 holes containing bronze knobs.

The first sight of the temple might not be too impressive but remember, the temple had further no more than the pillars and a wooden roof which obviously have not stand the time.

Other temples

Candi Pengkalan Bujang in KedahThere are several other temples in the compound of the museum.

Candi Pengkalan Bujang was found in 1936originates from Kampung Pengalan Bujang. The excavations date from 1976 and 1977 by the Department of Museum and Antiquity.

It is mainly a brick construction where iron nails were found which meant that the structure above was probably made of wood. Buddha terracotta, elephants and Boddhisatwa, a gold ring, a bronze scorpion head, earrings and Pallava writings were found at the site.

Nowadays the museum has build a protecting roof over the original stone structure which dates from the 11th or 12 century AD. 

Candi Bendang Dalam was found at Kampung Bandung Dalam, Merbok. It was first discovered in 1960. Research and excavations only started in 1974 followed in 1976 and 1981.

The temple was build between 12th and 13th century AD. During the excavations China stoneware, pillar bases, somasutra, lingga, yoni and beads made of glass were found.

Candi Bendang Dalam in Kedah

Candi Bendang Dalam

Candi pendiat is an 11th century temple which was originally found at Kampung Pendiat. Dr. Quaritch Wales found the remains of the temple in 1940. Weapons and precious stones amongst China stoneware and a standing Buddha made of bronze were found a the original site.

Candi Pendiat at Merbok, Kedah

Getting there

There is no public transport connecting Penang with the Bujang Valley. You will have to take a taxi. Alternatively you can take a bus to Sungai Petani, 33 km north from Penang and continue here by taxi. In Merbok is a homestay should you want to stay. There is also a resort on the road up to the museum.

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