Bau – History And Caves
Bau is popular for its two beautiful limestone caves and has two important historical events. It is also a prime rock climbing destination of Kuching.
The Fairy Cave takes its name from a stalagmite structure at the entrance that is said to resemble a Chinese deity. Inside, you will notice the great contrasts between the light entering the cave and its shadowy darkness, along with hues of brown and grey of the rocks – highlighted by the rich green of the moss – which offer many opportunities for the avid photographer. The rock surface outside the cave is where rock climbers do their ascent of varying difficulties.
Another cave is called the Wind Cave, named after the constant cool breeze that blows throughout the cavern. Take the chance to observe the many swiftlets and bats that dwell within this large cave while you relax besides a subterranean stream that runs through the cave.
History-wise, Bau had witnessed many conflicts. On May 1, 1837, the Skrang Ibans invaded the Jagoi-Bratak Bidayuh settlement on top of Bratak Peak, killing over 2,000 Jagoi-Bratak Bidayuh men and taking 1,000 women captive. Each year on May 1, descendants of the survivors of the massacre will hold Jagoi-Bratak Day on top of Bratak Peak in memory of their ancestors. A memorial stone was erected on May 1, 1988, to mark the day.
Another major conflict happened during the 1857 Gold Miners’ Rebellion. The rebels, pursued by the White Rajah’s forces, retreat to a cave here, where a few hundred were burnt or suffocated to death.
As to how the name ‘Bau’ came about, it is said that it was either derived from the old name ‘Mau San’ that the Chinese miners gave to the place, or from the fact that the place reeked of odour after the many deaths that the place had witnessed from the conflict. (Bau means ‘smelly’ in Malay language). The town is 22-km from the capital city of Kuching.