I visited the fascinating though little known Bujang Valley Archaeological Museum in Merbok nestled on higher ground in the foothills of the Kedah peak, surrounded by paddy fields that had turned brown in the scorching heat.

At the entrance to the musuem building, I came across what appeared to be a staff member selling old coins at the entrance, some dating back a hundred years ago – others, he said were a thousand years old from the Chola kingdom, going for over a hundred ringgit, apparently.

I asked him, if you sell these, wouldn’t the museum lose these coins?

Smiling, he explained these coins were from his own private collection, gathered from nearby kampungs.

Interesting, because I didn’t spot coins among the artefacts inside the museum itself, though I didn’t really look for them.

A notice on the door said the air-conditioning was out of order, which made the interior warm despite a few electric fans whirring.

Anyway, I spotted a couple of displays about early Indian references to Kedah and the Hindu-Buddhist settlement in the Bujang Valley going back to the Second Century, which I thought might be of interest. You know, stuff that our school history books don’t elaborate on.

Bujang valley Indian literature

And from the map at the top, you can see that Bujang Valley was a port frequented by traders from India.

Bujang Valley was a thriving settlement. All in, there are said to be more than 50 Hindu and Buddhist candis in the area, a few of which have been reconstructed inside the grounds.

This is the main reconstructed Hindu tomb temple (candi) in the museum grounds. The wooden roof and pillars have rotted and vanished over time.

main candi in Bujang Valley

More information here.

44 COMMENTS

  1. The Hindraf Chief cautions the Government of Malaysia against relying on certain archaeological researchers to deny Bujang Valley World Heritage Status.

    Hindraf Makkal Sakthi has called on the Government of Malaysia to engage with several world bodies to support world heritage status listing for the Bujang Valley.

    These bodies, said the NGO in a statement, include the International Council on Monuments and Sites (ICOMOS) and the World Conservation Union (IUCN).

    “These are sanctioned by Unesco to provide the World Heritage Committee with evaluations on the cultural and natural sites nominated,” added Hindraf Chief P. Waythamoorthy in a statement. “Much work was also done in Bujang Valley during the British period.”

    He implied that using local archaeological researchers to deny the world heritage status of the Bujang Valley was driven by attempts to “rewrite history” based on politically-motivated “collective amnesia”.

    “Pre-historic and pre-Islamic Malaya was Hindu-Buddhist,” stressed Waytha in drawing on history including the Kadaram Civilisation in Kedah. “Even paganism was an ancient form of Hinduism.”

    Waytha, who was briefly in the Federal Cabinet and in the Senate in 2013/2014, was taking the position that Universiti Sains Malaysia Professor Mokhtar Saidin’s comments on the Bujang Valley were not inspired by a “scholarly and academic” approach.

    “Scholars must have an apolitical, clinical and dispassionate mindset to win global recognition and approval,” he said.

    He referred Mokhtar to Unesco’s ten selection criteria, based on “outstanding universal value” on the World Heritage List. “A site is qualified if it meets at least one criteria,” explained Waytha.

    The Hindraf Chief pointed out that Mokhtar, who is Research Director at USM’s Centre for Global Archaelogical Research, must comply with Unesco standards and cannot dictate what a world heritage status must mean.

    Mokhtar was quoted in the media as claiming that “animism”, rather than Hinduism-Buddhism, was the dominant feature in the 2,500 year old Bujang Valley.

    • Hinduism existed 4,000 years ago.
      Bujang Valley existed 2,500 years ago.Indian traders frequented Bujang Valley.By rights or ptactical thinking they carry some form of hinduism practiced.

      rajraman.Mohktar existed since 1951 when UMno is born.Mohktar practiced UMNo history.

      • Before the Arabs culture the UMNo practiced Hindu Culture.
        rajraman. Before Hindu Culture i don’t want to say it openly like Mokhtar said.
        What Mokhtar accestor practiced David?

  2. Questions are being asked after a reader of theSun expressed concerns over conservation measures being taken at the Bujang Valley Archaeological Musuem in Pekan Merbok, Kedah.

    The worries came after an April 9 visit where the reader saw a group of university students playing what seemed to be station games cum treasure hunt on top of the chandi (tomb-temple).

    “The main site, Chandi Batu Pahat, was tied with raffia ropes all over with chairs (and) blindfolded students were to walk across the challenge,” the complainant said in an email.

    Frustration was also evident as the reader asked how could artifacts more than 1,500 years old be treated like this.

    http://www.thesundaily.my/news/1772750

    • Treasure hunts? That’s dumb! What if the students actually started digging around and found artifacts and took them home for souvenirs or for sale to supplement their meagre student grants! Anil already said the museum staff was selling old coins found in the area. Won’t be surprised if more than coins had been found in the past. Maybe even makaras, steeles, statues, etc, were found but we wouldn’t hear of these finds as the locals and maybe even the museum staff would have dealt with them.

  3. A new religion Dinkoism is emerging in India, according to BBC.

    Dinkan, the mouse messiah bringing salvation to India’s atheists
    https://youtube.com/watch?v=NYDuLs7UQaY

    According to devotees of India’s Dinkoist movement the universe was created by a cartoon mouse called Dinkan many millions of years ago. But Dinkoism itself is one of the world’s newest faiths having only been created by atheists in 2008 as a vehicle for parodying the excesses of organised religion. But while some followers of other religions don’t see the joke, social media is helping Dinkoism gain new converts.

    http://www.scoopwhoop.com/This-Group-Worships-A-Caped-Mouse-Heres-All-You-Need-To-Know-About-Dinkoism/

  4. Reported that most folks during that era are in commercial trading businesses in that region. However, probably religions superseded economic activities so we can witness the faltering empire to focus more on after live activities with the arrival of preachers?

  5. The ancient Indian military came here on mighty Indian elephants (also used by Attila The Hun)?
    And brought with them livestocks like Sambar deers & cattles.
    Maybe our gajah-gajah are direct descendants of continental Indian gajah. And Lord Ganesh blessed these fearless gajah-gajah to multiply in the new land of Malaya Nusantara.
    And may I assume our Pantera Tigris (Harimau) is also direct descendants of continental Indian tigers, which might have followed the irresistible trail of nature’s food chain like Sambar deers on transit down south to this Malay Archipelago.
    The word Nusantara: Dvipantara is a Sanskrit word for the “islands inbetween”, the synonym to Nusantara.

    • Hahaha! The soldiers, whether Indian or recruited from the region would most probably have arrived by ship/boat. As for the animals, who knows? There has been a lot of talk that coins, body ornaments and remnants of iron or steel weapons – rusted sword and dagger blades, spear heads, arrow heads, etc. – have been found in the vicinity all these years and the locals and collectors have come digging them up. Has there been any effort to catalogue these finds? Is it even allowed in law for ordinary people to simply help themselves to these items and sell them, as the museum staff seem to be doing? Has there been any attempt to stop this looting? That is what it is – looting!

    • Did you learn this from historian Prof Khoo Kay Kim?
      Or you try to impress us with your imagination?
      I do not find it in our Sejarah syllabus.

    • How about a 2nd Indian Wave of ‘Invasion’ of Malaya Nusantara?
      – Indian Cambridge-speaking English Teachers (tongue-rolling to perfection)
      – Indian IT / Software Engineers & Technicians (down-to-earth experts that don’t demand like American$$$)
      – Retro-Style Indian Barbers (very rare in these days of Korean-style metrosexual ‘which-sex-are-you?’ blurred image)
      – Bollywood Film Directors & Producers (that actually give you the real creeps)
      – North Indian Ori-Maestro Chefs (spicy cuisine as irresistible as fair & lovely North Indian ladies)
      CAVEAT: Provided they also bring along livestocks like Sambar deers & cattles to naturally attract (on trail) the virile Indian Continental Tigers on transit down south to this Malay Archipelago.

      The Benefits:
      1) Increase our waning tiger population in Malaya Nusantara. These Indian tigers are born with intrinsic Kamasutra genetic skills which may help to fast-track our Malayan tiger numbers thro’ cross-breeding. Also, can give a booster to Harimau Malaysia (national football team) to become more aggressive ala Mokhtar Dahari era.
      2) Improve English speaking & writing skills. Learn Cambridge English via tongue-rolling which is fun learning.
      3) Improve IT competitive edge. Learn like the Indians do without Bill Gates & yet thrive.
      4) Cheaper + affordable haircuts – Rm5.00? Manly Retro-Elvis style haircut is still possible.
      5) Produce better horror movies ala Night Shyamalan of The Sixth Sense that give you ‘no sleep’.
      6) Time to revamp our local Indian cuisine back to original recipes. Ditch the garish fusion food craze.

      • Another century Indians and Chinesse will be like Malayan Tiger. They (could) be ‘endangered’ race in Malaysia if UMNo still rule.

        rajraman. Now i am thinking of migrating.since every other days i see more pretending Arabs in Malaysia.

      • Once upon a time there is a man call Anwar.He was brought into UMNo to counter a Party call PAS ISLAM by Maha.
        Many Malays people’s bought Anwar Islamation of Malay Culture to Arabian Culture.He is so good in selling his new Arabian Culture and the fruits of is success can been seen now.

        His Party PKR still want to work with PAS although HADI from Serambi Mekah State betray most Malaysian from Negara Kebajikan to Negara Hudud and now Hadi want Negara Najib by openly supporting Najib.
        At few occasion whenever i meet a Malay lady to shake hand they hide their hands and this ladies age just below 20 years old.Is it a sin to touch my hand?

        rajraman. His wife wear glove….Our Country already become like Arabs.The Arabs country never at peace with each other.We the other hand have this pretending Arabs dividing further all Malaysian.
        Do anyone still want Anwar to be their PM?

        For once i call “May the God help Malaysian”

      • Sad to say too much Islamisation without rational thinking has actually brought the unnecessary inhibitions to the life of the Malays. No wonder one Malay student who is gay is now seeking asylum in Canada.

      • Utopia
        I am happy for him.Discarded by UMNo since he his Indian and doesn’t value him.

        rajraman.Indians had to be at their own.UMNo for Malays,DAP or Pakatan Harapan for all Makaysia but comes to Indians welfare Pakatan Harapan good for championing body snatching,Dead body in cell with twitter King,fighting for temple demolition.( all for front page publicity in online news)
        But comes to economic pies Indians forgotten.Utopia,can you tell me how many Indians appointed in Selangor and Penang GLC company and what is their post if any?

        I am racist if you think i say the above is wrong but what i wrote is facts.

  6. Kedah, not Malacca, the oldest kingdom

    Archaeological findings by USM archaeological team places the Kedah sultanate as possibly the oldest in the world. The team from USM’s Centre for Global Archaeological Research (PPAG) has unearthed evidence of ancient artifacts and an iron smelting site in Kedah dating back to 110 AD.
    Among the discoveries were a complete and intact foundation of a stone building constructed with detailed geometrical precision, revealing the unification of the concept of squares and circles.

    https://groups.google.com/forum/m/#!topic/kgmalaysiaraya/hTxlk-hUfo4

  7. Anil has really Discovered Kedah in 2016, Ahmasd Bashah would be very pleased. Remember Kedah is not just Langkawi. Unfortunately the state government tends to promote Langkawi as the sole destination for tourists. There are many poor folks in the mainland Kedah that would certainly glad to earn from tourists. Alor Setar airport is not as connected with flights like Ipoh or Kota Bahru. There is no JB-Alor Setar flight from Air Asia or Firefly that could bring in Singapore tourists to the mainland, and to Gunung Jerai. Now the Kedah folks are suffering because of the hot weather. No tourist, now no rain. The state government has wrong priority in wanting an international airport at Kulim.

    • Kedahans would surely welcome Anil set up a base in Kedah to help promote and clarify wrong perceptions on Kedah, a true peaceful and laidback country sites that can lure weekend trips from relatively more materially endowed Penangites.

      Speaking for Kedahans, I think Anil can engage the SP/Jerai folks to have more insightful accounts that can be of interest to the world not least to the Indian continent. May be historical and economical writeup for AsiaOne?

    • gk ong,
      It’s won’t happen since UMNO … and Pas … will say it’s haram to promote Hinduism or it’s Culture.
      Malay culture now (appears to be) Arabian Culture … and anything else will be erased slowly from Malaysian History.

      rajraman. Interesting to read the comments of others about Bujang Valley.

      • What is your opinion on this issue?
        It could be the birth place of your ancestor.
        Have you been there to offer your prayer?
        At least pray for rain for Kedah and Perlis.

      • Sammy2boy
        The issue? It’s a history about human civilasation and it’s happen to be Hinduism and UMNo just don’t want it to be well known.

        They even (allegedly) allows looting and demolition as proof they don’t care. If anything to do with Arabs Culture they will spend billions…

        2. My anccestor – i don’t know since all human said came from Adam and Eve but make wonder again why from one pair of them we have many colors,language,religions and fighting in the name of god until today.

        3. I don’t pray lah – free man and i don’t mind others pray.Maybe you can offer your prayers.

        4. You ask all the people’s of Kedah and Perlis to (pray) or you hire a bomoh since i don’t believed in both.

        rajraman. I think i have to horn growing in both site of my head – do you believe me since i use the beast sign 666.
        Good day and hope you will think about it.

      • At least the Hindustan movies and songs from Bollywood is still well received by the malay community.

      • sammboy

        i do not think they cares. they are more interested in bugis pirate worriors, javanese mystism, padang nasi etc something where they or forefathers came from. it is too foreign to them

  8. Why can’t the authority rebuild the candi with pillars and roof?
    Is (anyone) opposing to the reconstruction, as they do not want to acknowledge the fact that Hinduism was here long before Islam?
    This place could have been a tourist attraction to rival Angkor Wat or Borobudur but the local authority prefer to promote Islamic civilisation, thus depriving good tourist dollars to the residents of Jerai and Gurun.
    By the way, did you Anil meet up with CNA’s Sumisha Naidu while in Kedah? Sumisha was in Kedah (Jitra) recently reporting on the hot weather in Kedah.

      • Sumisha Naidu should take the initiative to meet up with Anil not the other way round. CNA (channel news asia?) ought to arrange meet up with Anil to understand the sentiments of the rakyat especially the Penang Islanders.

    • I think even the British were unsure of how the buildings would have looked like whole! The footprints of some of the ruins resemble 1st millennia military barracks or combat training chambers which you can still see in India today. Not everything was a “chandi”. In fact, safer to classify the buildings as “chandi” as they might get some protection. If we openly claim the buildings have a military or security function, it would suggest there were once garrisons in Kedah, Seberang Perai and northern Perak – garrisons serving which polity or power? And the ethnicity of the builders might be questioned once again and that might open a new can of worms leading to a Kota Gelanggi-type clamp-down.

  9. A huge glaring error in the heading! Col. James Low thought it might be Sanskrit but Laidlay claimed it was Pali. I took an ancient Indian languages scholar friend to view it and he said it was definitely Tamil-Brahmi! The readers’ comments following the above article also seem to support my friend’s opinion.

    • The author didn’t get all his facts right as he relied on errors propagated by the Malaysian museum and archaeological authorities who were themselves influenced by the erroneous opinions of British archaeologists and historians who preceded them.

      • Anil has in fact opened the door for more researches to be done and hence enlighten the people on true sejarah not yest fully explored.

  10. Off topic but may interest … Tonight 11pm TV3 Soal Has an on LGE Bangalow quickly frustrated Penang-lang can call in to let viewers to hear his grievances no affordable homes for his children.

  11. The Bujang Valley civilisation, which stretches back to possibly as early as the year 110, is the oldest in South- East Asia, predating Angkor Wat (12th century), Sri Vijaya (seventh century), Majapahit (13th century), Borobudur (ninth century) and the Malacca Sultanate (15th century).

    It’s a Malay civilisation built by the Malays who were Hindus and Buddhists then. Like Suryavarman II who built the Angkor Wat was a Cambodian, a Hindu but not an Indian. They behaved like Indians, spoke Indian with a religion and culture that were Indian, but they were not Indian. The Bujang Valley is the birthplace of Malay Civilisation.

    http://penangmonthly.com/was-bujang-valley-culture-the-beginning-of-malayness/

    • interesting. then where did these people originated from? to do more research is requied but whrre will $¥£€ come from. sponsor? public. service has only loans now no scholarship

      • Anands Krishnan with his wealth could sponsor the research/expedition to trace his roots here?

  12. China Silk Road naval navigation spearheaded by Admiral Cheng Ho wad well documented drawing foreign tourists namely to Melaka to boost tourism income.

    Samy Vellu or MIC has yet to explore early India trading and civilization in Kedah, with potential to draw Indians to Kedah not just Langkawi yo trace the roots, and in the process revise Sejarah textbooks to acknowledge that nusantara (folks) highly likely to have Indians DNA. This should revive interest in housing properties in now relatively sleepy Sungai Petani?

  13. This was a major network of trading outposts with military colonies and a major shipping beacon on Gunung Jerai supplemented by a string of military warning beacons.

  14. A Tamil scholar-cum-historian and I are privately investigating the provenance of these historical sites. We believe the British and Malaysian archaeologists and historians have got it all wrong all these years due to ignorance. A number of the so-called “chandis” are actually military barracks and fighting grounds, and there counterparts can be found in India today. This suggests that several of the so-called sites were actually substantial colonies with a military presence. Of course, whenever there was a military garrison, there would be chandis, etc. to cater to the troops, whether Hindus, Buddhists or some other religion. Some of the discovered inscriptions can still be read and understood today as they were written in ancient Tamil! The British didn’t know this and wrongly ascribed them to other cultures.

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