Langkawi, which means Reddish Brown Eagle in the Malay language is nestled on the Thai-Malaysian sea border and is the main island from a cluster of 99 islands during high tide and more than 104 islands in low tide. Legend mentioned that Langkawi used to be the place of Garuda, the mythological giant eagle rested in this island based on the Malay classical literature, Hikayat Merong Mahawangsa. Lying off the northwestern coast of Peninsular Malaysia, about 30 kilometres from Kuala Perlis and 51 kilometre from Kuala Kedah, Pulau Langkawi, as it is popularly known, covers an area of 32,848 hectares.
The island is divided into six districts namely Mukim Kuah, Padang Matsirat, Ayer Hangat, Bohor, Ulu Melaka and Kedawang and has a population of approximately 45,000 inhabitants with most of them are Malays. Out of the many small islands surrounding Langkawi, only Pulau Tuba - a fishing village, is inhabited.
A most popular beach on the island, Cenang Beach.
With a geological history dating back to 500 million-odd years, the islands contain bizarre rock formations that stir one's imagination and perplex the mind. Numerous caves like the mystical Gua Cerita, the haunted Gua Langsiar and Gua Kelawar with their stunning stalactites and stalagmites, taunt the adventurous. Fine beaches fringed with lush tropical vegetation offer sun-filled days of complete relaxation. The crystal clear emerald waters under azure skies provide a host of water sports and recreational activities, and a magical world of marine life. Unspoilt and rustic, it is a tropical paradise spectacularly endowed by nature.
But Langkawi is more than captivating beauty it is also a land steeped in legends and shrouded in mysteries. Its past is filled with legendary tales of wronged maidens and lovelorn princes, all of whom have left their mark for posterity. A well-known myth which was very interesting as it is closely related to the geographical areas across Langkawi island. According to the legend story, the island of Langkawi was populated by giant families.
The story began when Mat Raya intends to hold an engagement ceremony between his daughter with Mat Chinchang's son. However, on that day Mat Raya found
that Mat Chinchang’s son committed adultery with another woman and this
has triggered the anger of Mat Raya.
As a result, the relationship between these families was broke and they were hostile
to one another, led to the bloodshed and loss of life. The fights between these two
families led to the naming of certain locations that were believed to be related
to the story. For instance, the area where the engagement ring (ring in the Malay: Cincin) was fell after dumping was named as Tanjung Cincin.
Belanga Pecah icon at Taman Lagenda
The area where the utensils used for cooking have broken was named as Kampung Belanga Pecah. Meanwhile, the area where the sauce spill over from the utensils was named Pekan Kuah and the location where the sauce permeated to the ground was named Kisap. The name of Air Hangat also had been believed taken from the hot water which spills over from the broken utensils during the event.
Mat Raya and Mat Chinchang have been changed into rocks known as Mount Raya and Mount Chinchang. While Mat Sawar, who became the middleman to solve the problem of these two conflicts, had turned into a hill that separated into these two mountains.
Pregnant Maiden Island
Pregnant Maiden Lake also keep an interesting myth story. The lake is named so because according to an old legend, it tells about the marriage of a princess with a
royal prince of the earth. The children born as a result of their marriage have passed away just after he was born. Because this princess is very sad and disappointed
with the incident, she has buried her child's corpse in this lake water. After that, she had left the earth and returned to heaven. The princess has cursed the lake as a cure for couples who could not get pregnant and believed the barren could return.
Another best-known legend is that of Mahsuri, a beautiful maiden who lived here some 200 years ago. She was wrongly accused of committing adultery and sentenced to death by those who were envious of her. White blood oozed out as soon as she was stabbed proclaiming her innocence. With her dying breath, she laid a curse upon the island ' that it should remain barren for seven generations. The Mahsuri's Mausoleum is a sombre reminder of the wronged maiden.
As it turned out, in 1821, Langkawi was savagely attacked by the Siamese. Upon knowing the inevitable fate of the island following the battle, Datuk Kerma Jaya, the headman of Kampung Raja, the ancient capital of Langkawi, ordered that Padang Matsirat, the village granary, be burned and all the wells poisoned in order to starve the enemy. From then on, the island slipped into a slumber. This legend is perhaps the main allure of Langkawi.
Call it superstition or coincidence, the island's slumberous existence ended seven generations later. Modernisation crept-in swiftly and the lethargic landscape of the land was given a careful face-lift. On 1 January 1987, the Federal Government declared Langkawi a duty-free port and in 1990, the Langkawi Development Authority (LADA) which is housed in the LADA Complex was set up to develop the island as a tourist destination, as well as to improve the socio-economic conditions of the local people. Today, Langkawi has blossomed from a once sleepy hollow inhabited by farmers and fishermen into a prime holiday spot for domestic and international travellers. Its main town, Kuah once a sleepy hollow, is now a thriving and bustling commercial district.
On 13 January 1996, Malaysia saw the launching of MEASAT I into the earth's orbit. Langkawi was chosen to house the MEASAT Satellite Control Centre to monitor and control all MEASAT satellites in-orbit operation. The erection of the centre at Gunung Raya, the highest peak of the island, brought Langkawi's name up further in the world map.
More and more tourists from all over the world are beginning to stream into the island for various reasons ' the idyllic pristine beaches such as the Pantai Cenang, Pantai Kok and Pantai Datai as well as the many small islands namely the Pulau Dayang Bunting, Pulau Payar and Pulau Singa Besar surrounding Langkawi.
Another reason behind the arrival of many visitors are the numerous international events held on the island. Some of the international events include
the Langkawi International Maritime and Aerospace Show (LIMA), Tour de Langkawi, Langkawi International Motor Show and Langkawi International Dialogue.
The venue for most of these events is the The Mahsuri International Exhibition Centre, which covers a land area of 7500 sq. feet.
To cater for the growing number of travellers flying into the island, Langkawi International Airport, located at Padang Mat Sirat, has expanded three times within the last decade and undergone major renovations costing RM90 million. Luxurious international class hotels and resorts spring up like mushrooms all over the island. Langkawi has suddenly gained worldwide attention as a prime tourist spot, the nation's aerospace centre and as a host of top-notch events.