Interesting Places In Malaysia
Niah National Park is located on the Sungai (River) Niah, about 3 km from the small town of Batu Niah, 110 km south-west of Miri. The park was first gazetted as a National Historic Monument in 1958, and in 1974 some 3,100 hectares of surrounding rainforest and limestone hills were included, to form Niah National Park.
Niah is one of Sarawak’s smaller national parks, but it is certainly one of the most important, and has some of the most unusual visitor attractions. The park’s main claim to fame is its role as one of the birthplaces of civilisation. The oldest modern human remains discovered in Southeast Asia were found at Niah, making the park one of the most important archaeological sites in the world.
A vast cave swarming with bats and swiftlets; the thriving local economy based on birds-nests and guano; ancient cave paintings; a majestic rainforest criss-crossed with walking trails; abundant plant and animal life - all these and more make up the geological, historical and environmental kaleidoscope that is Niah.
The Great Cave is not the only important archaeological site. The Painted Cave, as its name suggests, houses detailed wall-paintings depicting the boat journey of the dead into the afterlife. The meaning of the paintings was explained by the discovery of a number of “death-ships” on the cave floor - boat-shaped coffins containing the remains of the deceased and a selection of grave-goods considered useful in the afterlife, such as Chinese ceramics, ornaments and glass beads. The death-ships have been dated as ranging between 1 AD and 780 AD, although local Penan folklore tells of the use of death-ship burials as late as the 19th century.