This small museum displays more than 2,500 artefacts from Malaysia's earliest civilisation that have been unearthed from the surrounding excavation sites.
Gold, gems, ceramics, Hindu gods and beautiful Buddha stone statues dating from the third to 14th centuries are all on display, though its main feature is Chandi Bukit Batu Pahat, a reconstructed temple built to worship the Hindu god Shiva.
Around 1,500 years ago Indian trading ships travelling to China would stop here to wait for the yearly monsoon to pass. Gunung Jerai was seen as a favourable spot as the mountain slopes overlooking the sea gave protection while traders out at sea could easily navigate here by heading for the mountain. At its zenith, Bujang or Nusantara as it was also called, proclaimed suzerainty over most of the peninsula, including what is now south Thailand. With the arrival of Islam in the 15th century the kingdom's glory faded and its temples were swallowed up by surrounding jungle.
How to get there
The museum is situated 17 km from Sungai Petani in a small town called Merbok. Regular buses pass through town on their way to Yan and you can catch one from Sungai Petani's local bus station, but getting off in Merbok means that you still have to walk 3 km to reach the museum since there aren't many taxis. The bus runs every 15-20 minutes and costs 2-3 ringgit. Take a taxi and save yourself the hassle, but remember to ask the driver to wait for you. A taxi costs 25 ringgit each way and takes 15 minutes.
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