Pengkalan Kempas
A Sleepy Town with Some Interesting Relics

The small town of Pengkalan Kempas sits on the banks of the River Linggi on the southern edge of Negeri Sembilan state, close to the border with Melaka, around 35km or so from Port Dickson.

The town is famous for its 'historical complex' which is rather a grand name for a couple of ancient relics with a roof over the top. Having said that, these are some of the more interesting historical relics in Malaysia and are well worth visiting.

The complex, which also goes by the names of Fort Kempas Historical Complex and Keramat Sungai Udang, contains three attractions:

  • The tomb of Sheikh Ahmad Majnun, a Muslim theologian and missionary who was believed to have been killed in a battle against Sultan Mansor Shah of Malacca in 1476. This makes it one of the oldest tombs in Malaysia. Sheikh Ahmad's followers believed he was an apostle while others, perhaps supporters of the Sultan, thought he was a traitor. Interestingly, the word 'Majnun' is Arabic for 'crazy'.
Tomb of Sheikh Ahmed Majnun
Megaliths at Pengkalan Kempas
  • Next to the tomb are various ancient stones or megaliths, thought to date from the second or third century AD. The three in the photo are the most well known, nicknamed the rudder, spoon and sword respectively due to their distinctive shapes. The megaliths are known as 'Living Stones' and some of the town residents swear that they grow taller by one or two inches every year.
Lie Detector Stone
My Arm in The Lie Detector Stone
  • Finally there is an interesting stone, covered in Arabic or Jawi calligraphy, with a cylindrical shaped hole that goes all the way through it. This stone is said to work like a lie detector. A suspect would be told to insert his arm in the hole during interrogation. If he told a lie the hole would tighten like a vice around the suspect's arm. I gave it a try, but I was alone and it is difficult to lie to oneself so the hole did not tighten around my arm.

There is no entry fee to the Pengkalan Kempas Historical Complex and no sign to indicate opening hours so anytime during daylight hours would be fine.

Old Shophouses at Pengkalan Kempas
School at Pengkalan Kempas

Since I had driven quite a distance to reach Pengkalan Kempas, I thought I would take a quick look around this tiny town.

There is a main street with a row of shophouses on each side, believed to be over 100 years old. Most of the shops were boarded up and only a handful were open, including one coffee shop/restaurant.

During the rubber era, this was a more thriving place as it was surrounded by rubber estates and semi-processed rubber sheets would be transported by river from the jetty here to Port Dickson where they would be sold to Chinese traders.

Pengkalan Kempas Jetty
Linggi River at Pengkalan Kempas

Today the rubber estates have been replaced by oil palm and the jetty is used for fishing instead. This part of the River Linggi is well known for fresh water prawns and I saw a sign advertising fishing/eco-tourism boats for rent. There are also said to be crocodiles about so swimming is probably not recommended.

Apart from the jetty, I noticed a Chinese school, a Chinese temple, a stage for putting on cultural events, a Chinese Methodist church and a police station.

Chinese Opera Stage at Pengkalan Kempas
Chinese Methodist Church at Pengkalan Kempas

With the rubber boom long gone, the best hope for this town now is tourism. I would suggest efforts be made to attract more visitors to the Historical Complex, opening a shop where tourists can buy souvenirs or even just a bottle of water or ice cream, and making more of the river location. How about opening a riverside fresh water prawn restaurant for example?

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