Jerantut town is located in the interior hinterland and in the middle of Pahang.
It is the main gateway or entry point to Peninsular Malaysia’s main national park, Taman Negara, at Kuala Tahan.
In Pahang history, it is famous as the place where patriots, notably Datuk Bahaman, Tok Gajah and Mat Kilau, fought battles against the British colonialists in the late 19th century.
They used the area, with its thick jungles and unexplored caves, as their hideouts.
As a district in the state, Jerantut is the largest in Pahang, covering about 756,000 hectares or 2,900 square miles and borders the state of Kelantan and Terengganu in the north.
About 75% of the district is covered with green, tropical jungle, so it is not unusual for us to find many forest reserves within the locality including Taman Negara.
There is a railway station in this relatively quiet town, as foreign tourists to Taman Negara usually come by train.
They stop at Tembeling station and then take the fast boats at Tembeling Jetty to the park.
Visitors to Taman Negara usually prefer to go to Kuala Tahan by boat, to experience the excitement and thrill of a river ride, although there is a road alternative (albeit rough) to the national park.
Jerantut is connected to the nearest town, Raub, and with Temerloh, by a wide trunk road.
As the gateway to Taman Negara and other nearby nature and adventure sites, Jerantut town provides the tourists and visitors with the necessary conveniences and services, with its shops and affordable budget hotels.
The name of this place was said to derive from an orang asli (aborigine) named Tut.
He was a brave man and the only person in his aborigine community who was courageous enough to go hunting and fishing on a boat, and to carry goods via the river, even though dangerous rapids abound in the rivers there.
As the story goes, he went to places where others dared not go.
However, on one fateful day, Tut’s boat overturned at one of the rapids, and sadly, he drowned and died.
The place where he died was named by his community, as Jeram Tut ("jeram" in Malay means "rapids"), to remember him by, and in memory of his courage and bravery.
With the passage of time, and the way the Pahang dialect is spoken, the place name simply became "Jerantut".
There is a place named Pulau Tawar near Jerantut town which was once a very important village.
It is important historically because it was once the residence of Sultan Ahmad of Pahang, who moved his official residence from Pekan, then the center of Sultanate Pahang, to Pulau Tawar in the 1800s.
Pulau Tawar originated from the fact that the kampong was rich with the rotan tawar (tawar rattan) species.
Being surrounded by three rivers, namely, Sungai Cucuk, Sungai Sambing and Sungai Sambau, the kampong looked like an island ("pulau" is "island" in Malay).
A second version of the name's origin is that there were many "rotan tawar" then in the area, and these rattan plants were surrounded by other tropical plants and vegetation, turning them into a sort of an island.
As usual, from "Pulau Rotan Tawar" the passing of time saw a gradual change of name, and it eventually shortened to just Pulau Tawar.
Historians and the public will find the Makam Pahlawan Mat Kilau, or the gravesite of Mat Kilau, the Malay patriot, located at Kampung Kedondong at Pulau Tawar.
A traditional food not found in other towns in Pahang but rather popular in Jerantut and especially in the interior of Hulu Tembeling, is Asam Rom.
This food is derived from the seed of the rubber tree. The soft inside of the rubber tree seed is dried and later pounded into powder form and is used in the preparation of dishes, adding a unique flavour to the dishes.
Asam Rom can be mixed with fish dishes together with tempoyak, pucuk paku, ubi keladi, keledek, umbut bayas and other vegetables. It is more popular as "gulai rong", cooked with local fish species.
It can also be grilled until dry and mixed with chili and asam belimbing and eaten with grilled fish as an appetizer, called sambal asam rom, just like the ever popular sambal belacan.
Rubber trees in the smallholdings owned by the rural folks are quite extensive in the district, as rubber was the main produce during the British colonial days.
But with the establishment of Felda and Jengka, the oil palm trees have now mostly overwhelmed the rubber trees there.
Besides Taman Negara, other interesting scenic locations to visit include Lata Meraung Waterfalls located at Lembah Kiol or Kiol Valley.
The cool waters of the waterfalls will relax and soothe the body and mind, and for families, there are nice spots for picnicking. But do get a tourist guide when you go there.
Gunung Benom and Gunung Tahan are two popular mountains that are located in the district with many terrain challenges for the strong, fit and adventurous mountaineers.
The limestone hills and caves of Kota Gelanggi, and the nearby Gunung Senyum and Jebak Puyuh caves are also favorite sites frequently visited by avid cavers and spelunkers.
Felda Residence Tekam is a popular hotel resort located in Jengka area, near the Gelanggi Caves. If you stay here, you will find beautiful tropical plants and trees that make for rather quiet relaxation.
Learn about the local Malaysian herbs and fruit trees there, and when they are in season, visitors usually get to savor the fruits just outside their accommodation.
And of course, don't forget to eat local dishes at the food-stalls in town, and ask for "gulai rong".
All in all, the bountiful flora, fauna and the lush tropical forests and natural landscape, will enthrall wildlife lovers and visitors to the place.
It is where the excitement of living in a 130 million years old rain-forests begins, with its beguiling terrains, and really charming flora and fauna.
And the more we explore, the more we get to be fascinated with the true wonders of nature.
As always, from me…
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