Tuesday, December 09, 2008

Cave of Darkness (2008)

Near the entrance

The stream

You'll get to see some tiny 'flying' fish here if you're lucky

The view up

Gua Kelam (Cave of Darkness), which is of Ordovician to Lower Devonian (500 to 370 Ma) age, is a unique 370metre long limestone cave formed in Setul Formation limestones. Classified as a Karst cave, a sight of the cave tour include Gastropodes fossil in the limestone. The huge cave system also has rimstone pools.

Gua Kelam is located at the foothills of a small town called Kaki Bukit, within the Perlis State Park, which borders with the Nakawan Range of Thailand. The locals have used this cave as a shortcut through the hill between Kaki Bukit and Wang Kelian for a long time. This possibility was a result of tin mining activities since World War I.

According to history, tin was discovered here when a Malay man by the name of Nayan started mining it at Sungai Pelarit, near here. Later on, he sold his operations to the Kong Fatt Mining Company. The tray system was used to mine for tin. To reach the tin, the miners dug pits as deep as 200 meters. Downpours often caused floods that trap and drowned many miners.

Back in 1935, an Englishman saw the water pathway as a brilliant method of transporting tin ore from a mine located near the stream entrance through the underground cavern to Kaki Bukit. Now, only locals and tourists make their way through the cave via a brightly illuminated wooden walkway inside the cave. You can still find remnants of the tin mine operation inside.

The walk through the cave is accompanied by the sound of flowing water from the subterranean stream below, smell of bat guano, and the impressive sights of stalactites, stalagmites, rimstone pools and other limestone formations.

There is an entrance fee of RM1 for adults and RM0.50 for children. The walkway is generally well
kept, though taking photographs in the dark proves to be quite a challenge.

Many natural caves in Perlis have been dug extensively for tin, although no longer worked. The caves in the Setul Mountain Range in Perlis are different from those found in the rest of Peninsula Malaysia as they have great depth and also have rivers flowing through them. There are flooded chambers, underground lakes, calcite formations, as well as man
made remains of old railway lines, engine rooms, wooden walkways, steps carved into rock, and small mining artifacts.

Sources: www.virtualmalaysia.com, www.showcaves.com, www.asiaexplorers.com and

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