|Basin countries||Pahang, Malaysia|
|Avg. discharge||596 m³/s|
|Basin area||29300 km²|
Pahang River or (Sungai Pahang in Malay) is a river in the state of Pahang, Malaysia on the Malay Peninsula. With 459 km in length, it is the longest river on the Malay Peninsula. The river begins at the confluence of Jelai and Tembeling rivers on the Titiwangsa Mountains and drains into the South China Sea.
From the mountainous upper reaches of Mount Tahan (2187 m) or locally called Gunung Tahan, it meanders in a south-easterly direction, passing Kuala Lipis, Temerloh, Chenor, Mengkarak and turning east at Lepar into the floodplain of Pekan, Kuala Pahang and drains in the South China Sea.
The banks of Pahang River was settled as early as 1400 by warriors and seafarers from around the Malay Archipelago such as Aceh, Riau, Palembang and Sulawesi, forming settlements. The earliest historical records of Pahang River, the riverine inhabitants or the people of Pahang were found in the Sejarah Melayu (Malay Annals) and Hikayat Munshi Abdullah.
Transportation in the early days
In the old days, Pahang River and Muar River were nearly connected at a place called Jempol, in Negeri Sembilan. This was because the Serting River flows into the Bera River, a tributary of the Pahang River. Jempol River flows into Muar River. Trading boats from River Muar could continue their journey until they reach Kuala Pahang in Pekan, or Kuala Lipis to continue into Terengganu, Kelantan or Perak.
At Jalan Penarikan, the locals help will be required to pull the boats overland. The distance is about 300 meters and because of the pulling of boats overland, the route is named Penarikan, which is the Malay word for pulling.
Jalan Penarikan could have been discovered in the 14th century, way before the days of Malacca Empire. The Arab merchants were actively trading as well as spreading Islam. When Malacca was discovered, they came to Malacca for trade and at the same time; the Pasai came to Malacca too to acquire their daily sundries. Coincidently, these are the same group of people whom they spread the religion to. The Arabs complained to the Pasai about the trials and tribulations of trading in Siam because of the arduous journey through the Straits of Malacca, then on the Straits of Terbrau before they can continue the voyage through the South China Sea towards their destination in Siam. This voyage which take weeks is extremely lengthy and difficult. After listening to the grouses of the Arab merchants, the Pasai revealed that there was a short cut where they could avoid the arduous voyage.
However, they have to pull their boats off shore for a kilometer or so. Learning of this, the Arabs endeavoured to try out this route. One day, the Pasai show this route to the Arabs. First, they sailed from Malacca along the Muar River to reach Jempol River, where they have to pull the boats on shore for a short distance to get into the Serting River. They then continue their journey along the Bera River to arrive at Kuala Tahan from which they proceeded to the South China Sea and finally to their destination in Siam. The Arabs discovered that even though they have to go on land for a part of the journey, it was very much shorter. So from that day onwards, they decided to use this route and Jalan Penarikan became famous ever since.
Jalan Penarikan played a vital role in the military operations between Siam and Malacca. Using this route, the Siamese have launched many attacks against Malacca. A troop was sent to make an ambush. Half of the troop stayed near Jalan Penarikan as backup and the other half attacked Malacca. However, the backup group has another mission, they have to dig a big canal measuring 30 feet by 20 feet in depth, so that they could connect the two rivers, Jempol and Serting River.
A leader of the Thai Army was later buried near Jalan Penarikan. The tombstone was believed to have been transported all the way from Thailand. The Siamese leader's grave could still be found near Jalan Penarikan. One interesting feature of the tombstone is that the year depicted was 1265.
Jalan Penarikan has also witnessed many significant events in history. The famous Malaccan warrior Hang Tuah, while on the run with Tun Teja, used Jalan Penarikan to flee to Pahang. The last Sultan of Malacca, Sultan Mahmud Shah, after the conquest of Malacca by the Portuguese had also used Jalan Penarikan to escape to Pahang.
In the year 1613, a Portuguese officer wrote that he took a boat from the River Muar to the Pekan, in Pahang and the journey took him six days. A map produced in 1598 showed that the Muar River and the Pahang River is connected at a place which is now called Serting, in Jempol Negeri Sembilan.
The Pahang River - Muar River route is a safer route to the South China Sea or to the Straits of Malacca, because there were no disturbances and threats of piracy that reign the seas.
Apart from that there were also signs of trading activities, whereby goods changed hands at this point. These means the boats from Pahang with the produce they carry stopped here, transact and pick up goods that are east bound and return back to Pahang. Similarly, boats from Muar, bringing goods from Malacca and Singapore were brought to Penarikan, where barter trade occurred.
Historical Sites of Pahang River
Many historical sites can be found along Pahang River. Among the sites is Makam Lubuk Pahang. This tomb is situated near to Kampung Jeranggang. This burial site consists of the tombs of Sultan Abdul Jamil, Datuk Budiman and Puteri Buluh Betong, the consort of Sultan Abdul Jamil. Their death were associated with attacks from Aceh in 1617. Sultan Abdul Jamil and Datuk Budiman were killed by Seri Mahkota Alam from Aceh. The bodies of Sultan Abdul Jamil and Datuk Budiman were buried side by side with their heads facing the Pahang River. Sultan Abdul Jamil's tomb is on the right whereas Datuk Budiman is on the left of the Sultan's tomb. Puteri Buluh Betong was buried at the foot of their tombs.
A fortress and a castle, which was mentioned in "Sejarah Melayu", described as Kota Biram or Kota Pahang (Buyong Adli 1984, 26), was completely destroyed. On that site, a building for the British Resident was erected. It was later converted into a palace for the Sultan. Now it is the Sultan Abu Bakar Muzium.
Environmental History: Pahang River was connected with Thailand, Vietnam and Borneo
During the Pleistocene epoch or Mesolithic period about 10,000 years ago, there was a 5 degrees Celsius drop in the global temperature. At mountaintops, rainfall as snow and accumulated as huge icy sheets (including Mount Kinabalu), thus making a break in the global hydrological cycle. Due to lack of water discharge into the sea, there was a 120-meter drop of sea levels from the present time. The South China Sea dried up, exposing the Sunda Shelf and previous deep trenches became huge ancient rivers called the North Sunda River.
Asian Mainland, Malay Peninsular, Sumatra and Java became connected to Borneo via the landbridge of exposed Sunda Shelf. The North Sunda River provided vital connection to Mekong River in Vietnam and Chao Phraya River in Thailand to the north, Baram and Rajang rivers in Sarawak to the east and Pahang River and Rompin River to the west of the massive land mass. Freshwater catfishes from those rivers migrated and mated to exchange their genetic materials about 10,000 years ago. Thus, after the Holocene, when the temperature increased, the landbridges and Sunda River were inudated and the catfish populations were isolated. However, their genetic motives are still in the DNA as an evidence of the previous connections of Pahang River to other isolated rivers in Indochina and Borneo.
Towns along the river
Jerantut is 15 km from the confluence of Jelai river and Tembeling River. Temerloh is situated on the confluence between Semantan River and Pahang River. The town of Pekan, which is Pahang's royal town, is situated on the southern bank of the river,near the river mouth.
The last Expatriate by Neil J Ryan on Sungei
pg 7-8: "We travelled by train with the rest of the battalion from Kluang via Kuala Lumpur to Mentakab which was to be the new battalion HQ. D Company was based at Temerloh where we took a row of new shop-houses which was built, overlooking the River Pahang. Here all the rifle platoons were living together and we were all now integrated into the company structure. The free and easy life of the estate living is now over - we were back in the army again. (Though this was not a spit and polish army). Pahang was much less developed part of Malaya than Johore. The latter had a good road network whereas in Pahang the main transport is based on railway and the river. At that time there was no bridge across River at Temerloh and the other side was dearth of roads. The other important difference in operational terms was that Temerloh was where the first Malay branch of the Malayan Communist Party had been established and Pahang was alleged to be the base of the only ethnic Malay regiment in the communist force - the remainder in the rest of the country, were still almost entirely Chinese. Our task was to keep Wan Ali and his colleagues under control and if possible eliminate them. Their territory was across the river from our shop houses well into the jumgle behind the kampongs(village) which stretched along the river bank. The other main change was in the way the battalion now began to operate. With six months 'sort of' jungle warfare experience we were now expected to spend a great deal more time in the jungle. The days of the short four- hour patrol were now over and we were obliged to spend up (to) a week away from base, The aim was for us to seek out and attack bandit camps, to lay in wait and ambush CT couriers and patrols and to be as expert in the jungle as they were. I don't believe we were but we certainly tried hard! It was hard work as the jungle was not a friendly place."
References on Historical Pahang
- Sejarah Melayu. 1612-1615. Tun Seri Lanang.
- Yusoff Iskandar, Abdul Rahman Kaeh; W G Shellabear. Sejarah Melayu : satu pembicaraan kritis dari pelbagai bidang.
- Abdullah, W. G. (William Girdlestone) Shellabear. Hikayat Munshi Abdullah bin Abdul Kadir
- Anon. The Hikayat Abdullah.
- A. C Milner. A Missionary : Source for a Biography of Munshi Abdullah.
- Anthony Milner. The Invention of Politics in Colonial Malaya.
- C. M. (Constance Mary) Turnbull The Straits Settlements, 1826-67: Indian Presidency to Crown Colony.
- Journal of the Malayan Branch of the Royal Asiatic Society.
- Journal of the Federated Malay States Museums
- The Selangor Journal: Jottings Past and Present.
- S. L. Wong Exciting Malaysia: A Visual Journey.
- Carl A. Trocki. 1999. Opium, Empire and the Global Political Economy: Asia's Transformations.
- Virginia Matheson Hooker. A Short History of Malaysia: Linking East and West.
- Nicholas Tarling. The Cambridge History of Southeast Asia.
- S. Durai Raja Singam. 1980. Place-names in Peninsular Malaysia.
- Muhammad Haji Salleh. Sajak-Sajak Sejarah Melayu.
- Lucian Boia. Great Historians from Antiquity to 1800: An International Dictionary.
- MacKinnon K, Hatta G, Halim H, Mangalik A.1998. The ecology of Kalimantan. Oxford University Press, London.
- Up close with Sungai Pahang.
- Mat Kilau, the Malay warrior.
- Prehistoric Malaysia.
- Muar River
- Unexplored Corner of Pahang. Journal of the Straits Branch of the Royal Asiatic Society.
- Bridges over Sungai Pahang.
- New Species from Sungai Pahang.
- Fish of Sungai Akah.
- Taman Negara National Park.
- Sungei Jeli.
- Pahang ICT.
- Palaeoecology of Pahang.
- TC Whitmore reference on Pahang.
- Pahang Experts.
- Pahang Overview.
- Pahang peatswamp.
- Pahang interest.
- Melioidosis in Pahang.
- Caves in Pahang.
- Forest Collectors.
- Human Development.