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Saturday, March 5, 2011

Gua Tempurung, Perak, Malaysia

Gua Tempurung is a cave in Gopeng, Perak, Malaysia. It is popular among spelunkers, or caving enthusiasts. More than 3 km long, it is one of the longest caves in Peninsula Malaysia. Part of it has been developed as a show cave with electric lighting and walkways and there are a range of tours of different lengths and difficulty. A fine river cave, the river passage runs about 1.6 km through the hill. There are three very large chambers and some spectacular stalactites and stalagmites.
Brief History: The cave was first identified in 1887 in the Map of Perak-Malay Peninsula, which indicated a mountain spelt as “Gunong Tempoo Rong”. The Department of Minerals and Geosciences estimated the age of the rock formations in the area of Gua Tempurung to be between 250 and 400 million years. The cave was also known locally as Gua Perah. Perah is a type of fruit similar to rubber seed. In the old days, there were many Perah trees near the cave. Before 1935, tin mining activities on small scale took place in the cave. During the World War 11 (1939 – 1945), the cave became a refuge for locals from the invading Japanese. The Malayan Emergency period (1948-1960) saw the cave being used by the communists as their hideout. The cave walls have hand drawn pictures and words by the communists. There are also inscription of hate slogans and song lyrics against the Japanese army. After the Emergency period, mining activities in the area resumed. In 1975, the Perak State Government appointed a cave researcher and enthusiast, J. Crowter of the German Society of Caving to carry out research on Gua Tempurung and to help turn it to become a recreation area and a tourist attraction. Circa 1994, the State Government carried out a feasibility study and in 1995, work to develop Gua Tempurung as a destination began in stages. The cave was open to the public in November 1997 and entrance fees were introduced and collected by a joint-venture company formed by Yayasan Perak and a private company, which managed and maintained the place as one of the state’s tourist attractions. In 2004, the State Government appointed APT Consortium Sdn Bhd to take over the management and maintenance of Gua Tempurung and the appointment remained valid till today. The cave continues to attract both locals and foreign tourists, with many coming from Europe, Australia, the United States, New Zealand, Singapore and other countries in the Asian region. The number of tourists has been increasingly steadily from more than 50,000 in 2005 to over 70,000 the following year.
Spectacular Features: Large and intricate cave system with beautiful speleotherms like stalagmites, stalactites, rim stone pools, curtains, straws, calcite crystals and pillars. These and more form the natural limestone cave architecture. The most commonly known formations are stalagmites (growing on the cave floor) and stalactites (growing on the cave ceiling or wall). Just remember this “mantra”: the “mites” go up and the “tites” come down! They develop when the calcium bicarbonate containing water drips down joints in the cave roof. The drop can partially evaporate and it hangs a little. Small amount of calcium carbonate is also deposited and it leaves a cascading effect. When the drop drips, partial evaporation happens and when the drips splash on the floor, they cause stalagmites to grow. Generally, stalagmites are thicker than stalactites, which are thin and fragile. When stalactites grow too long, they break easily. 

Classification: Karst cave. It is a cave of marble limestone (calcite calcium) of the Kinta limestone type.
Cave Age: More than 400 million years old.
Cave Length: 1.9 km.
Cave Height: 120 metres.
Number of Domes: Five gigantic domes with ceilings resembling coconut shell (tempurung), hence its name Gua Tempurung. Gua is the Malay word for cave.
Galleries: The five domes form the showcase galleries beginning with Golden Flowstone Cavern, Gergasi (Giant) Cavern, Tin Mine Cavern, Alam (Universe) Cavern and Fallen Warrior and Battlefield Cavern.
Underground River: The river is called Sungai Gua Tempurung. The river passage runs about 1.6 km through the cave inside Gunung Tempurung. 


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