Seri Gumum synopsis
85 kilometers from the city of Kuantan stands a mystical place where an ancient empire is believed to lie slumbering, guarded by a legendary monster. Here begins the tale of Lake Chini.
Tasik Chini is Malaysia’s second-largest natural freshwater lake, 12,565 acres of lush wetlands with a dozen interconnecting bodies of water. Historians believe that the lake is the site of an ancient Khmer city, from an era when their empire extended into the Malay Peninsula.
The Jakuns (an aboriginal tribe of Peninsular Malaysia), on the other hand, believe that the mysterious lake is guarded by a dragon-like beast known as Naga Seri Gumum.
Over the decades, there have been occasional reports of sightings, but as in the case of the Loch Ness monster, these have never been scientifically proven. The existence of seven pyramid-like hills near Lake Chini has sparked interest in the possibility of a lost Khmer civilization that could date back to the 12th century.
There is no proof that the hills are man-made, but there’s a likelihood that part of a lost city lies at the bottom of the lake based on a theory that the area was submerged after the fall of the Khmer empire of which the city was a part in the 15th century.
Based on pieces of porcelain found in the area, the city could have been built when the Khmer empire was at its zenith, ruled between 802 and 1432 by a succession of “God kings” of the Khmer empire that had its capital in Siem Reap, Cambodia, home to the famed Angkor Wat.
The original version (circa 800 CE) is retold by Ninot Aziz in the Malay Archipelago tradition.