Whether you love nature or legends or biking, Gunung Jerai is a place you have to put in your itinerary
Gunung Jerai, formerly known as the Kedah Peak, is a mystical mountain located in the northern Malaysian state of Kedah.
In the days of yore, the mountain played an important role as a landmark for sailors who came from all around the world. Today, it is Kedah’s premier hill resort and recreational park.
On any given day, with good weather, the picturesque peaks offer a panoramic view of the coastal plains in Kedah to its neighbouring state, Perlis. These peaks can be seen from Penang in the south to Langkawi in the northwest.
At about 1,217m above sea level, Gunung Jerai is a stunning monument of nature.
Shrouded in Legend
Gunung Jerai is steeped folklore, making the mountain all the more interesting for the intrepid visitor to explore. Ancient traders regarded Gunung Jerai as a sacred peak and legends surrounding it abound.
One such legend was that of the infamous bloodthirsty Raja Bersiong (Fanged King) who ruled over an ancient kingdom near the foot of Gunung Jerai.
What’s certain is that the mountain and its surroundings in Bujang Valley have an age-old history of human settlement, evidenced by many archaeological remains. It formed part of a thriving Hindu-Buddhist kingdom that existed thousands of years ago.
A Playground of Fragrances
On Gunung Jerai’s slopes is the Sungai Teroi Recreational Forest – a forest virtually untouched by time that contains a rich collection of mountain flora and fauna, with orchids, rhododendrons and pitcher plants found in abundance. Visitors have been known to remark on the richly-scented interior filled with delicious scents.
Another great way to appreciate the sights and sounds Gunung Jerai has to offer is to use the Tangga Kenari, or Canary Stairs, which starts at the foot of the mountain and leads all the way up to a resort. The series of 1,300 steps is a formidable climb and suited only for the truly fit and healthy. Do consult your doctor beforehand.
Other attractions include a forestry museum conveniently situated halfway up the mountain, in the recreational forest.
Two other must-see spots are the Telaga Tok Sheikh (Tok Sheikh Well), and an open area called the Padang Tok Sheikh (Tok Sheikh Field), both of which are named after a prominent Muslim sage who lived in the Middle Ages.
The cool, clear and pristine waterfall known locally as Lubuk Naga (Dragon Pool) is a lovely getaway. Just a 20-minute hike from the foot of Gunung Jerai, Lubuk Naga is not as heavily frequented as the average waterfall in Malaysia. The chilly water and picture-perfect scenery will do much to soothe your tired body.
If you’re looking for more high-adrenalin kicks, go mountain biking on Gunung Jerai. Mountain biking presents an opportunity for you to exercise and to keep fit, while discovering the innate beauty of Malaysia in a free and adventurous way.
The Gunung Jerai Mountain Bike Challenge is both challenging and scenic, undulating through rural areas, rubber and oil palm plantations, and mountain tracks.
How to Get There
Malaysia Airlines serves Alor Setar, capital of Kedah, from locations such as Kuala Lumpur, Penang and Kota Bharu. Gunung Jerai is accessible by road from the town of Gurun, about 33km south of Alor Setar via the truck road or the North-South Expressway.
Private taxis charge about RM6 for a round trip to the foothills and back.
Express buses, outstation taxis, and trains also offer regular services from Butterworth in Penang to Alor Setar.
For more information or enquiries, please contact Visit Malaysia Year 2014 Secretariat, at +601300885050 or log on to www.vmy2014.com.