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home > Malaysia > Kedah > Kedah

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Discover the rich historical heritage of the little kingdom of Kedah


History of Kedah Darul Aman

myMalaysiabooks brings you the rich history of Kedah Darul Aman (Kedah, Abode of Peace), our home state. From a Hindu Kingdom in the 4th century to the Kedah Sultanate and formation of Malaysia.

Map of Kedah - location of Bujang Valley (Lembah Bujang)



Ancient Kedah


Area and Location

Chandi foundation at Bujang Valley, Kedah

Recorded history of Kedah often starts at the Bujang Valley, located in central Kedah. This maritime kingdom at Bujang was visited by Indian, Persian, Arabs and Chinese traders as far back as the 4th century CE/ AD (CE: Common Era).

     For many centuries, the Empires of Sri Vijaya and later the Cholas all exerted their influence and domination over this Kingdom. Kedah Peak (Gunung Jerai), at 1217 metres, provided the navigational landmark for ships in the Malacca Strait. The Bujang Valley (read details here) was a collecting centre for products of the Malay Peninsular and a transit trading post for ships awaiting the change of currents and monsoon winds of the Indian Ocean. Traders soon propagated Hinduism and Buddhism and their culture, building shrines and temples along the coastal area, evident from artefacts found at the valley.

     The Kedah Annals weaves an interesting tale of the first Kedah ruler, a Hindu known as Merong Mahawangsa (Read the interesting legendary tales of Merong Mahawangsa here). He was the first Maharaja of Kedah. Eight Hindu Maharajas is believed to have ruled Kedah before the ninth maharaja, Phra Ong Mahawangsa, who converted to Islam in 1136. On conversion, he subsequently ruled as Sultan Mudzafar Shah ( 1136 - 1179) . The Kedah Sultanate , the oldest monarchy in Malaysia, starts with this first sultan and has been intact for more than eight centuries. 




Land area - 9,426 sq. kilometres with over 100 islands.

Shares a border with the states of Perlis, Penang (Pulau Pinang) and Perak and its northern and north-eastern boundary is the Malaysia-Thai border. 11 administrative districts with it own district centres in Kedah. Alor Star is the state capital with a population of about 250,000.

Free map of Kedah

Map of Kedah, Where is Kedah?



Artefacts found at the Bujang Valley (Lembah Bujang)

The Bujang Valley, Kedah


Hindu artefats at Bujang archaeological site, Kedah

Hindu icon of stone found at Bujang Valley, Kedah

Artefacts found at the Bujang Valley


Foreign influence in Kedah


Fort of Kedah at Kuala Kedah     Between the 18th to mid-20th century AD, Siam, the British and Japanese exercised political and economic control over Kedah. In 13th century saw Kedah dominated by Siam and the Kedah became a vassal of Siam.  Occupied by protracted wars with Burma, Siam however left Kedah much on its own. The succeeding centuries saw the scramble for power and control of the spices trade by other foreign powers such as the Portuguese, Achehnese and Bugis, that devastate the state, slowly destroying Kedah’s prosperity. (Much of the battle for Kedah took place at Kuala Kedah - see Kota Kuala Kedah)

     The British exerted their influence from the 18th century and took possession of part of Kedah including Penang island. Siam continued their influence and attacked Kedah in 1821. Kedah soon lost more of her territories  - Satun (now part of Thailand) and Perlis (state in Malaysia) was taken away from Kedah by Siam. 

     In 1909, under the Bangkok Agreement, Siam handed control of Kedah to the British and British advisers were appointed to the state. This period also saw other states in the Malay peninsular under British colonial control.

    In December 1941 Malaysian Peninsular came under Japanese occupation - which lasted 3 years and 9 months. Kedah however was technically under Japanese rule for 19 months. In October 1943, the Japanese relegated the governance of Kedah to Siam. However, in practice, Japan still held the ultimate power - all military, policing and communication services were held by the Japanese.

Chandi at the Bujang Valley(External: Jap invasion - Battle of Jitra - Wikipedia)

     The British regained control of Malaya in 1945 and continued their influence until 1957, when Malaya gained her independence and Kedah become part of the Federation of Malaya.

(Also see History of Malaysia)





The Kedah Sultanate


Kedah practices a system of Parliamentary Democracy led by a Constitutional Monarch, His Highness the Sultan, who is also Head of State.
The Sultan is the centre and symbol of loyalty for the multiracial subjects of the state and a source of unity for the people of the state.

     The Kedah Sultanate is presently one of the world's oldest continuous line of monarchy. The present Sultan, Sultan Abdul Halim Mu'adzam Shah, installed in 1959, is the 27th Sultan of Kedah.  

Genealogy of The Kedah Sultanate from 1136

(Salasilah Kesultanan Negeri Kedah Darul Aman sejak daripada tahun 1136 Masihi)

The genealogy of the Kedah Sultanate since 1136 A.D. is as follows:


Sultan Mudzafar Shah I

1136 - 1179


Sultan Mu'adzam Shah

1179 - 1201


Sultan Muhammad Shah

1201 - 1236


Sultan Mudzaffar Shah II

1236 - 1280


Sultan Mahmud Shah I

1280 - 1321


Sultan Ibrahim Shah

1321 - 1373


Sultan Sulaiman Shah

1373 - 1422


Sultan Ataulah Muhammad Shah I

1422 - 1472


Sultan Muhammad Jiwa Zainal Adilin I

1472 - 1506


Sultan Mahmud Shah II

1506 - 1546


Sultan Mudzaffar Shah III

1546 - 1602


Sultan Sulaiman Shah II

1602 - 1625


Sultan Rijaluddin Muhammad Shah

1625 - 1651


Sultan Muhyiddin Mansur Shah

1651 - 1661


Sultan Dziaddin Mukarram Shah

1661 - 1687


Sultan Ataullah Muhammad Shah II

1687 - 1698


Sultan Abdullah Al-Mu'adzam Shah

1698 - 1706


Sultan Ahmad Tajuddin Halim Shah I

1706 - 1709


Sultan Muhammad Jiwa Zainal Adilin II

1710 - 1778


Sultan Abdullah Mukarram Shah

1778 - 1797


Sultan Ahmad Tajuddin Halim Shah II

1797 - 1843


Sultan Zainal Rashid Al-Mu'adzam Shah I

1843 - 1854


Sultan Ahmad Tajuddin Mukarram Shah

1854 - 1879


Sultan Zainal Rashid Mu'adzam Shah II

1879 - 1881


Sultan Abdul Hamid Halim Shah

1881 - 1943


Sultan Badlishah

1943 - 1958


Sultan Abdul Halim Mu'adzam Shah

1958 -          

External site: Our Sultan Website - Kedah Library



Kedah Today



The Kedah Sultan is hereditary ruler of state and carries out his duties under the advice of the state government. The Kedah government is headed by a Chief Minister (Menteri Besar), selected by the State Assembly (Dewan Undangan Negeri). The State Assembly is formed from representatives elected by the people of the state in their respective constituencies (under Malaysia's election).   

     Today, the economy of Kedah is agricultural-based with largely small-scaled industries. Kedah is the largest rice producer in Malaysia and supports other agricultural products and agro-based industries. The state also has a sizable manufacturing and high technology-based industries, mainly in Kulim and Sungai Petani. Kedah enjoys a diverse economy – agricultural, manufacturing and tourism.

Alor Star the capital

Sungai Petani - industrial town in Kedah

Other towns




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Legends of Mainland Kedah

Aretefact at Bujang Valley museumPuteri Lindungan Bulan is a famous Kedah folktale that recounts a historical event that happened at Kampung Siputeh, located in Padang Sera, Kubang Pasu District. It tells of how the Raja of Aceh was cheated of a Kedah Princess of ‘white blood.......


Raja Bersiong - Raja Ong Maha Perita Deria alias Raja Bersiong (fifth Raja of Kedah) was a legendary cruel ruler . He had a fondness for blood and grew fangs, so he came to be called ‘Raja Bersiong’ or Fang King (bersiung means ‘fangs or tusk like canine teeth’ in Malay). Other stories say that he was nicknamed ‘bersiong’ because he would threaten to tear his enemy with his teeth. His subjects revolted because of his cruelty. While escaping, the Raja suffered pain from his fangs, so he pulled it out and threw it. The place his fang was thrown is thought to be in the Baling District (baling means ‘throw’ in Malay).

....more legend at our Langkawi page.


Prime Ministers from Kedah


Tunku Abdul Rahman Putra Al-Haj ibni Almarhum Sultan Abdul Hamid Halim Shah
Fondly known as "The Father of Malaysia"

The Longest Serving Prime Minister of Malaysia
Tun Dr. Mahathir Mohamad, Ex Prime Minister of Malaysia The First Medical Doctor to become Prime Minister of Malaysia.

Where to Stay in Kedah

Recommended places to stay in Kedah:

Langkawi Hotels  (Where is Langkawi)

Alor Star Hotels

Airlines and tours

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