Singapore was known in ancient times as "Temasek", a Javanese word meaning sea. It was destroyed at the end of the 4th century AD and was only re-discovered again in the 11th Century AD.
When Prince Nila Utama landed on the island, he saw a strange beast. He later learnt that it was a lion and immediately named the island "Singapura", a Sanskrit word for Lion (Singa) and City (Pura).
The Merlion symbolises in its lion head, the legend of its discovery
(from a souvenir)
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