Gunung Ledang | Mountain of legends
Gunung Ledang Johor National Park was established in 2005 to protect this special mountain, along with all of the unique plants and animals that call it home. The 8,611.9-ha protected area, which spans the entire Ledang massif, holds an expanse of pristine tropical rainforest and serves as a critical water catchment area for both Johor and Melaka.
Gunung Ledang is also steeped in legend. Many of the legends are centered around the mythical princess, Puteri Gunung Ledang. In the most famous version chronicled in Sejarah Melayu (Sulalatus Salatin / The Malay Annals), the princess spurns the advances of the Sultan of Melaka by setting seven impossible demands for her hand in marriage.
The mountain goes by several names. Chinese sailors plying the Straits of Melaka in the 14th century called it Kim Sua, which literally means “gold mountain” in Hokkien. Also alluding to the gold deposits rumoured to be present on the mountain, British cartographers named it Mount Ophir, after the lost mines of Ophir that supplied King Solomon‘s treasure. The name “Gunung Ledang” is likely to have been coined during the reign of the Majapahit empire. In Old Javanese, “Ledang” may be translated as “high”, “faraway”, or “showy”.
While gold has never been found on Gunung Ledang, it is undoubtedly a treasure trove of biodiversity and an increasingly important refuge for wildlife. Not surprisingly, the mountain has been explored by top naturalists and scientists since the 1800s. Alfred Russel Wallace spent a week here collecting birds and insects in 1854, whereas H.N. Ridley wrote an account of the flora of Mount Ophir in a 1901 issue of the Journal of the Straits Branch of the Royal Asiatic Society.
Today, Gunung Ledang is one of the most popular mountain climbing destinations in the country – between 15,000 and 20,000 visitors attempt to scale the 1,276 meter-high mountain each year. While the summit can be reached in half a day, it is not any easy climb by any means. Those who manage to reach the top are rewarded with a spectacular 360-degree view of the surrounding plains, weather permitting.
The main entrance to the park, which is also known as Taman Hutan Lagenda, is situated at the southern foot of the mountain, near the town of Sagil in Tangkak district. While most visitors come here to climb the mountain, the park entrance itself is a great place for less strenuous activities such as a picnic or camping trip by the river. It’s a particularly suitable destination for families, school or company groups. There is a range of accommodation available, including chalets, dormitories, jungle huts and campsites; whereas there a number of group packages are on offer, with fun activities such as obstacle course, paintball and nature walks.