Agop Batu Tulug

Batu Tulug Caves

Useful Information

Location: District Kinabatangan, state of Sabah. Between Lahad Datu and Sandakan on Hwy H15.
(5.415796, 117.942108)
Open: All year daily 9-17.
Classification: SpeleologyKarst cave SubterraneaCrypt
Light: not necessary
Guided tours: self guided
Photography: allowed
Accessibility: no
Address: Agop Batu Tulug, Batu Tulug Museum, WDT 197, 90200 Kota Kinabatangan, Sandakan, Sabah, Tel: +60-89565145.
As far as we know this information was accurate when it was published (see years in brackets), but may have changed since then.
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1996 museum opened to the public.


Agop Batu Tulug (Batu Tulug Caves) is actually not a cave, its the name of the whole site. A solitary karst tower named Batu Tulug is located near Kampung Perpanduan Datuk Moh in a huge meander of Kinabatangan River. Agop in Sungai language means cave, batu in Malay language means rock, and tulug comes from the Cebuano language means to go to sleep. In other words, it is the rock with caves which are the resting place of the dead. There are three huge caverns at different heights which were used as burial places, there are 125 carved wooden coffins. Today it is an archaeological site with a museum, toilets and trails to the three caves for visitors. The Muzium Arkeologi Tulug (Batu Tulug Archaeological Museum) is located right in front of the tower.

The three main caves are Agop Sawat (Uppermost Cave), Agop Lintanga (Middle Cave) and Agop Suriba (Lower Cave). There is a total 125 wooden casks, mostly in Sawat and Lintanga caves. They are made from belian hardwood (Eusideroxylon zwageri). The coffins are decorated with carvings of buffalo heads, crocodiles, house lizards and snakes. The carvings reflect the myths and legends of the Kinabatangan people. The crocodile is related to death and the darkness while the bugang bird, dog, rooster and deer were friends of legendary heroes. The Kinabatangan belong to the Orang Sungai (River People), a group of indigenous people native to the state of Sabah, Malaysia.

Batu Tulug karst tower is the remains of a limestone layer, which was mostly weathered down. Tower karst is a typical phenomenon in tropical karst areas. The limestone is called Labang limestone and is 20-25 Million years old. There are several more caves, for example Agop Dimuduk (Upper Cave). The karst tower is 39 m high. Agop Suriba (Lower Cave) is at the same level as the surrounding plain, Agop Sawat is 15 m higher. A wooden staircase from the museum connects the cave and allows easy acces. There are no trails and no electric light in the caves, but they are rather short with a level floor and are very easy to visit.