Popular Langkawi Legends & Myths

Picture this, you're sipping a fragrant cup of locally brewed tea while soaking in the alluring sights of Langkawi, a gem amongst Malaysia's radiant archipelagos. But whatever it is that catches your eye—be it the emerald green of the tropical rainforest or the azure allure of the Andaman Sea—know that beneath the island's pristine beauty, it’s the whispering legends that capture the soul of Langkawi.

Veiled within these treasured landscapes, every landmark gifts you a folklore, a tale spun generations ago, yet living on, shaping Langkawi's cultural ethos and economic tapestry. These narratives, like exotic spices in a delicious delicacy, lending a distinctive flavour to this island paradise.

The Magnificent Seven - this isn’t a reference to the famous Western film, but to the essential legends of Langkawi, significant threads woven into its cultural fabric. Each tale is a mesmerising spiderweb of intrigue that fervently grips the locals and inspires venerated traditions. They vary from tragic romances to stories of heroic battles, each steeped in tantalising mystery that piques curiosity and drives tourism. 

As you traverse through the landmarks, you become a character in these mystical tales, exploring not just with your senses, but also with your emotions, becoming part of the lore that shapes the island's identity. These legends, while drawing you back in time, also manoeuvre the island’s present, moulding its mindset, and propelling its prosperity. Thus, as you embark on your journey to uncover these fables, remember the words of a seasoned traveller: it's the stories that make an island, not the sand.

Table of Content

Popular Langkawi Legends & Myths

Mahsuri of Pulau Langkawi

Mahsuri, the daughter of Pandak Mayah and Cik Alang who migrated from Siam about 200 years ago was accused of committing adultery with a minstrel called Derambang. She was immediately captured and tied to a dead tree under the scorching heat for days. Despite claiming that she was innocent, Mahsuri was sentenced to death by the village headman Dato Pekerma but none of the swords could kill her. Finally, Mahsuri resigned to the fact that only her death could appease the villagers, and revealed to them that she could only be killed using her father's keris.

On the day of execution, Mahsuri was stabbed with her father's sacred keris. The villagers were shocked to see white blood flowing out of her, signifying innocence. As she was dying, she cursed Langkawi to seven generations of bad luck.
" Ya Allah, Ya Tuhan Yang Maha Melihat Segalanya, aku redha akan matiku jika benar aku bersalah tapi jika benar aku dianiaya...ssesungguhnya aku haramkan darahku mengalir ke bumi ini, dan aku sumpah, bumi Langkawi tidak akan aman, berpuakalah menjadi padang jarak padang tekukur selama tujuh keturunan!"

Many locals believe the legend to be true, citing continuous decades of failed crops and invasions by the Siamese following the death of Mahsuri. It was only towards the end of the 20th century Langkawi began to prosper as a tourist destination.

Mahsuri binti Pandak Mayah
The Legend of Mahsuri of Langkawi

Gunung Mat Chinchang

Gunung Raya (880m) is the highest peak and Gunung Mat Chinchang (796m) is the oldest (450-550 million year-old) mountain on this island, and located between them is the Sawar Hill. According to myths, there was once a wedding between Mat Raya's son and Mat Chinchang's daughter, who were from families of giants. A fight broke out that day, and pots and pans were thrown at each other.

The gravy (kuah in Malay) from the pot spilled on the ground, resulting in the present day town called Kuah. The spot where the engagement ring was hurled and landed became Tanjung Cincin (Cape of the Ring), where the hot water (air hangat) spilled is known as Kampung Air Hangat (Hot Water Village), where the crockery (belanga) was broken (pecah) became Kampung Belanga Pecah (broken crockery village), and where the gravy seeped (kisap) through the land became Kampung Kisap.

The fight was finally intervened by Mat Sawar. Mat Raya and Mat Chinchang regretted their actions and  transformed themselves into mountains, immobile and benign.

Gunung Machinchang
Gunung Mat Chinchang in Pulau Langkawi

Tasik Dayang Bunting (Lake of the Pregnant Maiden)

One day, Mat Teja (a male genie) was passing through the lake and was taken aback by the beauty of Mambang Sari (a female sprite). He sought advice from a local sage, Tok Dian, on ways to win her heart, and was told to wipe his face with mermaid tears. After doing so, Mambang Sari immediately fell in love with Mat Teja and they were married soon after. She spent most her days at the Lake of the Pregnant Maiden during her pregnancy, but her beloved child died only seven days after she gave birth. In sorrow, she laid it to rest in the depth of the lake. According to legend, the baby turned into a mythical white crocodile, which could only be seen by people with the purest hearts.

Since then, villagers believe that the lake possesses the ability to heal barren women, as the water has been blessed by Mambang Sari. When seen from above, the silhouette of the lake resembles a pregnant woman lying on her back.

Lake of the Pregnant Maiden langkawi
Lake of the Pregnant Maiden or Tasik Dayang Bunting

Gua Cerita (Caves of Legend)

To ensure the continuity of the great Roman and Chinese powers, both these empires agreed to a marriage between their children. However, this decision is strongly objected by the mystical fire bird. The phoenix believed that the coalition would signify the end for smaller kingdoms, hence abducting the Chinese princess and hiding her in a palace on this island. The Roman fleet carrying its prince was also attacked by the Phoenix when it was en route to China. However, the prince survived and was washed ashore onto a beach on the same island. The prince and princess was united here, and the Phoenix soon banished itself upon learning that it had failed to prevent the marriage.

Gua Cherita langkawi
Gua Cerita or Caves of Legend in Langkawi, Kedah

Beras Terbakar (Field of Burnt Rice)

Datuk Panglima Hitam ordered the villagers to hide their rice in an underground cellar, fearing the invasion by the Siamese. They also came up with strategies to fend off attacks by lacing wells with poison. As soon as the Siamese troops arrived in Langkawi, they immediately drank the water from the wells to quench their thirst, and were gradually killed. In retaliation, the Siamese launched a massacre and killed everyone in the village, and everything, including the underground cellars, was razed by fire. Padang Beras Terbakar was the name given to the site where the cellar was built.

Air Terjun Telaga Tujuh (Seven Wells Waterfall)

Nestled amidst lush foliage lies Air Terjun Telaga Tujuh, a series of seven crystal-clear pools connected by babbling brooks that flow ceaselessly, even in the driest of seasons. This magical place is steeped in ancient lore, believed to be a favored haunt of forest fairies who once inhabited the surrounding earth. Legend has it that a coven of seven exquisite nymphs would bathe in the pools by night, but would vanish like mist at the mere sight of humans.

Seven Wells Waterfall langkawi
Air Terjun Telaga Tujuh in Pulau Langkawi, Kedah

Gua Langsir (Cave of the Banshee)

The cave was believed to be once inhabited by a Langsuir, a name given to a woman who died while giving birth. She was able to assume the form of a very beautiful woman, and would behave provocatively to lure men up the cliffs to later be tortured and devoured. One day, a lone and deaf fisherman rowed his boat out to the sea and passed this cave. The banshee started to sing but to her disappointment, the deaf fisherman did not respond. Thinking that she had lost her charm, her flew away from the cave and never returned since.

Gua Langsuir Langkawi
Gua Langsir in Langkawi

Langkawi is a great place to visit, but it's also rich in culture and history. The island has many legends and myths that have been passed down through generations. Don't forget to share your travel & dining moments with us on Instagram by tagging @rollinggrace or #RollingGrace. Happy travelling!

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