Gurun is a small town and a major industrial park situated within the parliamentary district of Jerai in Kedah, Malaysia. "Gurun" in English means desert, however the town does not resemble in the slightest the meaning of its English translation. Gurun derived its name from the word "gerun", which means terrify or "kurun" meaning elephant in the Siamese dialect. These words are associated with an incident during the reign of Sultan Abdullah Muhammad Shah II Ibni Almarhum Sultan Jaafar Muazzam Shah (1874 - 1876), Sultan of Perak, who was killed in 1876 by the invading Thai armies when they crushed his body using an elephant. This incident took place behind the current Gurun Police Station.
 Government and Politics
Administratively, Gurun is under the district of Kuala Muda and falls within the local government administration of Sungai Petani Municipal Council. Gurun is designated as N22 for the Kedah State Legislative Council Zone and is represented by Dr Leong Yong Kong (BN) who defeated B. Kalaivanan (PKR) with majority of 1,554 votes in the 2008 General Election. Its Member of Parliament (P12 - Jerai) is Mohd. Firdaus Ja'afar (Pas) who defeated Datuk Paduka Badruddin Amiruldin (BN) by a majority of 2,299 votes.
Gurun is located between Guar Chempedak to the north and Bedong to the south and can be reached via a highway; the North-South Expressway, and it even has its own train station. The main road junction in the town center connects the western part of Kedah to the town of Jeniang and the district of Sik. The junction was currently shifted to a new location situated in front of Gurun Post Office due to the construction of Malaysian double track railroad. The construction of Gurun Railway Station is a part of the Bukit Mertajam - Alor Setar railway extension project started in late 1912 and completed in 1914. The project was carried out under the Federated Malay States Railway Administration and officially opened for the public in 1915. The station was now demolished in order to make way for a new railway station located about 1 kilometer to north of the old station.
Gunung Jerai, formerly known as Kedah Peak, is a massive limestone outcrop situated to the west of Gurun and is the highest point in Kedah rising 986 metres (3,235 ft). It is the main tourist attraction to Gurun.
Gurun is well known for its corn stalls. Rows of these stalls stand along the federal trunk road from the town of Gurun to the town of Guar Chempedak. Gurun is also known for the starting point of Wan Mat Saman Canal, the longest canal in Malaysia with approximately 36 km that stretch out until Alor Setar town, where it connects Gurun River to Kedah River. The construction of the canal started on 13 August 1885 and was completed on 12 July 1896 and the soil that was dig out to create the canal formed "batas ban", which formed the foundation for the current federal trunk road to the state capital Alor Setar.
Gurun was designated as the industrial area for heavy industry in 1980s by the government. Initially, the Perwaja Beam and Rolling Mill was set up. Then the landscape of Gurun slowly changed. Modenas plant and Petronas Fertilizer plant were then followed. Now, Naza Automobiles also have their plant in Gurun.
During the period of Thai invasion in 1876-1881 and continued until the early 1900s, Gurun became well known as a base for local heroes such as Panglima Nayan, who operated from his hometown of Jeniang, about 10 miles to the east of Gurun. The strategic location of Gurun that connects every town in Kedah had enabled these warriors to plan and executed their activities freely without any fear from the occupying forces.
In 1911, the Kedah State Government opened a Malay School in this town and the school still survives and is now known as Sekolah Rendah Kebangsaan Gurun Pusat. The school provides modern education for the rural folks in Central Kedah while the Islamic schools, the pondok, are mostly concentrated in Guar Chempedak and Yan area.
During the Second World War, Gurun became the line of defense for the 11th Indian Division in the Battle of Gurun in early December, 1941. However, the British strategy was poorly executed and they were easily overrun by the Japanese army.
During the Malayan Emergency period, Gurun was among the first areas declared as a "White Area". Gurun then served as the forward staging base for the Commonwealth forces launching their operations against communist insurgents. Horbart Camp, located on 8 mile peg of the Gurun-Jeniang road, was the base for these activities and also served as the training camp for units waiting to be sent into the jungle for operations. The Horbart Camp still functions as a training camp today.
Schools in Gurun or nearby include:
- SMK Gurun, Gurun
- SJKC Choong Hwa, Gurun (峨崙中华华小)
- SJKC Mah Wah, Padang Lembu (马华华小)
- SK Gurun Pusat, Gurun
- SK Sri Jerai, Gurun
- SK Batu Empat, Jalan Jeniang
- SMK Batu Lima, Jalan Jeniang
- SJKT Kalaivaani, Padang Lembu
 References & External Links