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Wednesday May 3, 2006

Cultural and historical treasure trove


MERBOK in Kedah with the largest mangrove forest in the country and a river that flows into the Straits of Malacca is a centre of ecological treasure.  

It also boasts of being the centre of archaeological heri-tage. 

The 4,833ha of mangrove fo-rest with 30 types of mangro-ves located in Merbok, near Sungai Petani, Kedah, is the country’s largest mangrove re-serve and home to fireflies and 80 species of birds.  

Bujang Valley containing ruins of Hindu and Buddhist temples in Merbok lends a historical importance. 

It used to be an important trading centre centuries ago. 

BACK TO NATURE:Boats plying in the Merbok River.
Realising the potentials, Ke-dah is preparing a master plan for the development of Merbok as a centre for eco-tourism in-dustry and cultural heritage.  

The master plan would see changes along the Merbok River, including up-grading the available facilities at Semeling and Tanjung Dawai jetties. 

Also being planned is a river cruise from Se-meling to Tanjung Dawai and Bujang Valley ar-chaeological site and vice-versa. 

Kedah Mentri Besar Da-tuk Seri Mahdzir Khalid said the master plan would include an information centre to help tourists to get information on the cruises and the mangrove area.  

Also in the plan is the upgrading of fish-cage aquaculture projects, boardwalk and tower for tourists to enjoy the over-view of the mangrove forest. 

“We believe our master plan will help lure more foreign and local tourists to Kedah,” he said.  

It is understood that the master plan has 18 components which incorporates the development of the cultural, agricultural and tourism aspects in Merbok.  

River cruises, floating chalets, the proposed mangrove walk and eagle sighting are expected to become popular with tourists from countries such as Hong Kong, Taiwan, Japan and Singa-pore. 

“We have infor-mation which could prove that Bujang Valley history is much older than Ma-lacca’s and that Ke-dah was the first state to embrace Is-lam,” Mahdzir clai-med. 

Maharaja Derbar Raja from the Kedah Sultanate is believed to be the first ruler who converted to Islam and changed his name to Sultan Muzaffar Shah. 

He ruled Kedah from 1136 AD to 1179 AD and was laid to rest at Kampung Langgar, Mukim Bujang. 

It is also learnt that studies are being conducted to ascertain Islamic ruins in the area.  

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