Not far from the town of Sungai Lembing (between Sungai Lembing town and Kuantan town) is an area called Panching. Here is Panching stands a lesser known cave called Charas Cave, a temple cave. Charas Cave houses the statue of Sivalingam; the holy symbol of Shiva, and Buddha. Few people know about this cave and thus it does not have many visitors.
Charas Cave surrounded by palm trees.
Charas Cave stands out tall being surrounded by oil palm trees. It takes about 10 minutes to get there from the main road. It could be quicker but road conditions requires one to drive at a reduced speed, taking in the sights. Here one can also observe wildlife especially birds. I spotted some birds of prey and kingfishers.
At the end of the road one will come to a limestone cave with a parking area below it. That limestone cave is Charas Cave. One will have to pay to park here and pay to get to the cave. Parking is RM2.00 and the entrance charges to the cave is RM2.00 as well. The entrance fee is a donation to the temple and is used to maintain the cave (lightings and repairs).
A good workout getting to the cave.
Being at the top of a limestone hill, one will have to climb up a metal stairs to reach the cave. The climb is quite steep and the number of steps needed to reach the top is a lot indeed. I cannot remember how many steps I had to climb as I lost count halfway having needed to focus on breathing. It certainly is an exhausting climb.
Lots of climbing before reaching the entrance into the cave.
After a good workout one arrives at the entrance of the cave. More steps lead into the cave. My recommendation is to take a break here. Breath all the fresh air one’s lungs need before heading into the cave. Take as much time needed to recuperate from the climb before marching on.
A lot of climbing to do and the steps are quite uneven making the climb a little tougher. There are a lot more steps to climb before reaching the entrance.
As one enters the cave one realizes just how damp and humid the air is. A long pathway snakes into the cave with lights lighting the way. These are things that the entrance fee pays for and these are certainly needed here. One will simply get lost in here without lights and that is a dangerous thing.
Finally I arrived at the entrance of the cave. This is where I recommend anybody visiting this cave to stop, take a breather, and recuperate before heading in.
Being a temple cave there are statues of deities and other figures here but other interesting things to look at are the formations on the walls and ceiling of the cave as one walks deeper inside. Further in one sees something like an area built for visitors to sit; somewhat like a rest area.
Some of the statues in the cave.
Remember, I recommended to take a break and recuperate from the climb before entering the cave? here’s why. The deeper in one goes, the thinner the air feels. The cave is really quite deep. With dampness, heat, and humidity; breathing becomes harder (not forgetting the funky odour in the air). Without getting enough oxygen, one can feel a little dizzy and disoriented in here.
Without lights one will easily get lost in here.
I walked deeper into the cave feeling a little lightheaded, until I arrived at the reclining Buddha statue. I snapped some photos and quickly made my way back out managing my breath as best as I can. One can actually feel the air improving as one walks towards the entrance of the cave. I could actually feel the difference in oxygen levels.
Note: should you feel that you are unable to go on inside this cave, stop and walk right back out.
The reclining Buddha lying deep in the Charas Cave.
Before heading back down it is best to take a break once again at the entrance to recuperate. Breath in as much air as one needs and take in the view from the top. Start descending only when one is ready. It is dangerous to go down these steps when one is feeling light headed. Remember to take your time.
Some works going one during my visit.
Worth The Visit?
This depends on the individuals opinion. Personally, I find Charas Cave to be an average cave to visit without much to do or see unless one is a devotee. That said, I feel that it is worth the experience and is best taken as a mini adventure with friends. The workout is certainly a good one.
Natural sculptures on the walls.
Things To Bring
The climb up to the cave and the walk inside the cave can be really exhausting for the reasonably fit. Also it gets hot inside as the air circulation in the cave is not good. Here are some things I recommend bringing:-
A bottle of drinking water
Battery operated fan
Wear comfortable walking shoes
Wear thin cotton t-shirt
Note: Not recommended for people with breathing difficulties, lung issues, and heart problems.
A king fisher hanging out at the bottom or foot of Charas Cave. One can photograph some wild life along the way.
Address: Jalan Gua Charas, 26090 Kuantan, Pahang
Opens Daily: 9am to 5pm
There are plenty to do on the east coast of Malaysia. Pekan is one of the fishing grounds that anglers in Malaysia go to.