By Siti Noriezam binti Mohd Zamri
When you hear about Jengka (in Pahang), the first thing that crosses your mind is probably, “Oh, nothing much about the place, just green villages surrounded by oil palm trees.” That has been among the first impression of outsiders when they have been asked to describe about this place. However, there is something more interesting than what you could imagine.
By the way, have you heard about the existence of Gunung Senyum (or the smiling mountain)? Perhaps after you have read this article, it could evoke your feeling to visit the place especially after the COVID-19 pandemic ends or when people are allowed to cross states for travel. It is the place where you can bring your family for adventure activities filled with the green surrounding and the panoramic view.
Therefore, Gunung Senyum Recreational Forest is the best choice.
Gunung Senyum was first opened as a recreational forest in 1989. Basically, it is in Jengka 25 and it covers an area of 794 hectares and is in the compartment of 1, 2, 3, and 4 of Jengka Forest Reserve. Even though this mountain is not well known among outside visitors, indeed, it is a popular destination in Pahang for those who are interested in caving and trekking activities.
Gunung Senyum has its own historical background, a mythical story and it offers attractive and unique landscapes such as the 20 mysterious caves to explore.
These are among the uniqueness of Gunung Senyum – the story behind the name of Gunung Senyum, a mythical story about Toklong, and several unique caves that are famous among visitors.
At this moment in time, you might wonder why this mountain was named Gunung Senyum. Does it shape like a person who is smiling? The answer is ‘No’.
The history of Gunung Senyum
Here is a story behind the name of Gunung Senyum. There are in fact several versions of this story but one of them was during the time of the late Sultan Ahmad, who was the Sultan of Pahang from 1863 to 1892.
One day, he reached one mountain in Jengka 25 with his assistants and a few dignitaries who accompanied him. Then, when he looked at the mountain, he asked them about it.
“What is the name of this mountain? I would like to know.”
However, no one in the party knew about it, but just to offer their smiles without answering directly the question asked by the Sultan. To avoid embarrassment from the Orang Besar of Pahang who was with him, the Sultan named it as Gunung Senyum due to the reaction of the assistants. Until now, people are calling this mountain Gunung Senyum.
“You will never fall in love with someone until you get to know him.”
The same goes for this place. Right now, you already know about the historical background of Gunung Senyum. What else about the mountain that can attract you to the place? It is time for you to know about the mythical story that is related to Gunung Senyum.
The mythical story of Toklong
When you ask about Gunung Senyum to someone who lived nearby the place, they will associate it with the story of Toklong, a famous mythical story of a nobleman who is said to have married an elf girl in Gunung Senyum. Besides, four types of caves will be included in this mythical story.
Toklong is a man who has a good personality, and he even has a skill in traditional treatment. The story begins a long time ago when he decided to marry one beautiful elf called Puteri Bunian who lived in Gunung Senyum. For them to fulfil the dream to get married, Puteri Bunian needs to perform three preconditions. These three preconditions were made because they are from a different world – from the real world and the world of elves.
Firstly, Puteri Bunian needs to take a bath in the cave known as Kolam Tujuh cave. In this cave, there are seven levels of beautiful ponds and it has its special characteristic. The villagers stated that every monsoon season, the water in these ponds will overflow through each floor. But the interesting fact is that the source of the water has not yet been found and today the pool is already dry.
Secondly, after Puteri Bunian has fulfilled the first condition, she must dry her body in Angin cave. This cave is called Angin cave because whenever you enter this cave, you can feel the wind blowing slowly and smoothly into your body and the surrounding is very cool and comfortable.
The last precondition that Puteri Bunian needed to do was that she must bathe under the light in Terang Bulan cave. This is among the famous cave in Gunung Senyum. Why did the travellers like to go there? It is because most of them come in to see the beautiful moonlight but during the daytime.
How can this happen? It’s such a wonderful thing to know.
It is because in the cave of Terang Bulan, your journey will be full of darkness at the beginning but at the end, you will see a bright light that resembles a moonlight during night time. The source of the light has come from the sun and it penetrated the one hole that exists in the cave.
So now, what happened to Puteri Bunian and Toklong?
Thankfully, Puteri Bunian managed to complete all the preconditions and they got married. They lived together in Gunung Senyum happily until one day, Toklong wanted to go back because he missed his village. Then, he asked permission from Puteri Bunian to return to the world for a while. However, Puteri Bunian did allow him to go back but with one condition – Toklong must return within a month.
As been stated by Jengka villagers who know about this myth, it is said that Toklong had broken his promise. Due to this reason, when he returned to Gunung Senyum to see Puteri Bunian, sadly to say that Puteri Bunian was already gone from his life. Tok Long faithfully waited for his wife, until he died, then was buried in Makam Tok Long cave. It was the last cave that is related to the mythical story of Toklong. It is called Makam Tok Long cave because if you go into this cave, you can see there is one tomb of Toklong. This tomb is said to be the evidence of an old story that passed down from generation to generation.
Other types of cave in Gunung Senyum
Perhaps this is not the last unique thing about Gunung Senyum. Generally, there are around 20 types of different caves that travellers can explore. But only seven to eight types of the cave are famous among the visitors. Among them are Terang Bulan cave, Makan Toklong cave, Batu Merlap cave, Silat cave, Gajah cave, Taman Satu cave, and Taman Dua cave. Unfortunately, there are also a few of the several caves that are not recommended for visitors to enter due to safety factor.
As a general opinion of visitors who have been there for recreational activity, most of them said that Gunung Senyum is such a beautiful place for those who love nature and like to do hiking and adventure activities.
If this story of Gunung Senyum can be introduced to the public in general, it can be a must-visit place whenever people come to Jengka, Pahang. It is due to its unique story behind it and the existence of mysterious caves that people can explore.***
(This article is written as part of the individual assignment series for Feature Writing class)