Harimau Cave (also known as Tiger Cave) is a limestone cavern in OKU regency in South Sumatra, one of over 50 caves in the Ogan River valley that has turned up archaeological evidence of prehistoric human occupation in the region. Harimau Cave is significant among its peers because archaeological excavations have so far unveiled 66 human skeletons dated between 2,000 – 3,500 years ago, animal bones, pottery, fossilised seeds, stone tools and rock art. In terms of human evolution, the discoveries aren’t particularly old but the extent of the finds provides are historically significant because they provide a rare insight into the complex cultural behaviours of prehistoric humans in the Southeast Asia. And as archaeologists continue to excavate deeper, there are hopes that Harimau may yet reveal evidence of far older human occupation in the cave.
If you like your history, Harimau Cave is a must see and a good local guide will be able to show you some of the other nearby caves and rock art sites. In addition, the small Si Pahit Lidah Museum in Padang Bindu village has some of the skeletons and artefacts from Harimau Cave on display. Whilst you’re there, be sure to visit the nearby Goa Putri (Princess Cave). Whilst it doesn’t have any ancient relics, this large limestone cave has some impressive stalagmite and stalactite formations. According to local legend, a beautiful princess name Putri Dayang once lived in the cave until she was turned into stone by the evil sorcerer Si Pahit Lidah. There’s also a small underground watercourse that stretches from the end of the 160m chamber to the mouth of the cave.
Even for those with only a passing interest in archaeology and caves, the Ogan River valley provides some very pleasant hiking through the limestone hills, rice fields, a spectacular hanging bridge crossing of the river and friendly locals.
Harimau and Putri Caves are located just outside Padang Bindu village, 35km west of Baturaja city along the Baturaja-Muara Enim road. Public bus services operate regularly along this route; just tell the driver to let you off at “Goa Putri”. The Si Pahit Lidah Museum is located in the village and Goa Putri around 1km south. It is well signposted but any local can point you in the right direction. Harimau Cave is around 4km from the village but can be a bit tricky to find on your own. Ask around the museum or in the village to hook you up with a local guide.