Langkawi – History and Landscape

A piece of land guarded by sea, vultures and forest. Days blessed by the unity of winds, views and the ‘rain’.  And nights are unimaginably unique. farmers songs and hard work fills the fields…

At langkawi, nature and life becomes celebration….



The stony structure of Vulture could be seen from the sky. With its huge wings widespread, eyes filled with a natural hunter’s rage and claws outstretched to embark its prey, the great statue of vulture stand against the sea. With the variations in sunlight, the stony wings of the great hunter takes different colours. Dusk sets behind those massive wings. After that, we can see, vultures raising from different  parts of langkawi, ready to hunt for its prey. Flying through the dense mangrove forests, they catch fish from the Kulim river and circle over the rain forests and rest on the trees in the Mashuri village. These vultures roam across the sea and their flight extends through the land locks and up to the shore lines of Thailand. Thus, over the nights and days, these vultures guard the precious piece of land in the middle of nowhere – Langkawi.

The island lives on the beliefs of these sky guards. In local Malay language, “Langkawi” means reddish brown Vulture. In the middle of Andaman sea, situated close to Malaysia, The langkawi island bears a simplicity that is even vibrant and present in the silent wind. The waves that crushes its shores has a rhythm, a rhythm of peace, calm, rigidity. The same attire could be seen and felt in the lifestyle of the natives. It could be felt from the white sands to the denseness of the lush green forests.

Langkawi constitutes 105 island pieces, majority of which are unbiased for human habitation. The mainland of Langkawi is concentrated on 478 square kilometres close to the Thailand border. Within this space, 65000 occupants, wide streets sided by dense forests, clear sky and rain wet twilights… all become part of the city celebrations and the distant sounds of farmers song.

In distant past, Langkawi was a barren island. A greenery occupied by vultures. later, Indians and Chinese who came in search of Gold and camphor spread the human scent across this virgin island. In Malay ancient history, one of the first occupants of this island also includes ancestors from South India. It could be assured that he is of Tamil origin. Because the precedents of this great grand ancestor could be found all over the island with all the  physical features and the melodious ‘Tamil’ accent which could traced back to Tamilnadu in south India.

The locals say that this island city is over hundred year old. Houses were used to be built with bricks. Men and women had long hairs and wore sleeveless long gowns. Kings and land lords wore red shawls over shoulders, gold rings and anklets.

Forgetting the distant past, langkawi has entered into a simple life with paddy fields, fishing and rubber plantations. In 1987, the proclamation of Langkawi as “Duty Free island” began the tourist downpour to this island. City squares expanded. Forests, ponds and villages all dressed up to welcome the tourist industry. Vultures became sightseers. Now , tourism is Langkawi’s life breath.

On clear days, the island draped by the frequently blowing sea breeze gives tourists a simplicity of a feather. While boating through the Kulim river, forests, small islands engulfs us in  a ethereal web. The ‘Bat cave’ on the shores of Kulim river looks like a lone castle. A torch is a must to enter this place. On upper walls of the cave, bats could be seen as small black dots. Their count doesn’t limit on thousands or million. Approximately a cave occupied by a million bats sends a chill through the nerves. The natural relics  within the cave say that it was formed naturally a way long past within the sea. The only sound that breaks the haunting silence in this cave is the occasional clattering of the bat wings.

The mangrove forest winds and unwinds beyond the bat cave. It smells of marsh, water and algae. It seems like mangrove roots standing with their hands crossed, through we can see the swinging monkeys staring at us. It was amazing to see that there are vegetarians and non vegetarians in the monkey gang!

The most amazing spectacular scene in the Kulim river is the fish hunting by the vultures. Gliding as a spot on the high skies, dives to the river surface in a lightning speed and grabs heavy fish. Not even making a single sound, or a ripple on the surface, it felt like an art difficult to adopt. With the prey clenched in the claws, they fly and disappear behind the huge rocks or to the dense mangrove forest.

Floating restaurants in the river are haven of Malay delicacies. Chicken blended in honey, hot and chilly sea food and white rice constitutes the main course. Across the floating restaurants, we can see the ecological forest. Felt like “HOLLYWOOD” is engrailed on a huge rock. On rowing ahead, facing the sea were huge rocks that rose to the sky like castle gates. The wind and the sea has given the rocks an eye catching shape. Through them, the river joins the Andaman sea. A half an hour boating along the path will take us to the shores of Thailand.


to be continued…


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