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Batu Caves is an enormous 400 million years old limestone outcrop located just north of Kuala Lumpur. This Cave serves as the focal point of Hindu festival in Malaysia. In fact, every year as many as 800,000 devotees and other visitors throng the caves to celebrate the Hindu festival Thaipusam – making the Temple Cave as one of the most popular Hindu shrines there is outside of India.
The Batu Caves complex consists of three main caves; the Temple Cave, the Dark Cave and the Art Gallery Cave and a few smaller ones. The Temple Cave is dedicated to Lord Murugan – a Hindu deity whose huge statue proudly stood guard right outside the Batu Caves. This is the first thing that you are going to see when you reach the place. It’s hard not to take notice. Nothing will make you feel smaller than standing next to something that’s 140 feet tall. I mean seriously, it was the biggest I had ever seen.
There is no entry fee for visiting the Temple Cave but you must climb a steep flight of 272 steps to see the temple and get a good view of the stunning skyline of the city center. Yes, it’s quite a lot! And yes we survived it! 🙂
At the beginning of the climb, the steps seem easy, yet as the sets of steps enter double figures, we felt like giving up haha… But seeing kids running their way up competing with each other who will reach the top first kept us motivated!
Half way to the Temple Cave, we saw the entrance to the Dark Cave. This is an adventure cave right for people interested in nocturnal animals and scientific exploration of its evolution. The Dark Cave is said to be home to the rarest spider in the world, the Trapdoor Spider, and ancient animals dating back over 100 million years, found nowhere else. Apart from that, it also has a network of pitch-black untouched caverns heaving with rock formations.
Unfortunately, exploring the dark cave is not for free and only via guided tours. The entrance fee cost 35 ringgit per adult and 28 ringgit for kids, a bit expensive but it’s a worthwhile experience. My favorite part was when we came to a place where no natural light gets in and we turned off our lights, plunging us into total darkness! I was amazed at how easily we spotted all the little creatures our guide told us about! Well, talking about how our senses adjust and adapt to a certain environmental condition. Amazing isn’t it?
After exploring the Dark Cave, we went back on the trail and fairly soon we were at the top! Whooooohoooo! Undoubtedly, we made several stops along the way to catch our breath 🙂 🙂 But who cares, the important thing is we made it!
While resting, we took a moment to look and enjoy the views of the beautiful KL city, the iconic Petronas Tower and KL Menara Tower as it gets better with the height. I can literally just sit there for hours and enjoy the view. But it’s the cave we came here for haha. So off we go.
Inside the Temple, Cave is an impressive dome shaped ceiling filled with bats which creates an eerie atmosphere. As we roam around the temple we saw a group of monks giving their blessings to Hindus by putting on some white ash and a red dot on their forehead. It’s called kumkum/bindi and it represents the third eye – a reminder to see God always. Meaningful, isn’t it?
Tons of monkeys dotted everywhere, roaming around the cave, and completely unafraid of humans. They were hissing as if talking to one another, planning on how to steal food from the tourists. These monkeys are extremely spoiled by tourists and become very aggressive towards the visitors because of this. So when you see them baring their teeth that means they are in an aggressive attack mode so stay away! Just a word of precaution here, monkey bites and scratches can be nasty as they have the potential of transmitting rabies and herpes B virus. Both of these can be fatal if untreated. So better be careful in dealing with the monkeys. You don’t want your holiday to end up in the hospital, do you?
There’s another set of stairs inside the main cave that leads to the Valli Devanai Temple. Picturesque sunlight beamed through wide openings creating a mysterious effect to the entirely darkened areas. The caves are undeveloped, and home to a diverse range of cave flora and fauna.
After about an hour, we finally decided to go down and explore more. Coming down the steps was much harder than climbing up as the steps were so steep. I had to teeter down almost sideways grasping onto the balustrade-like side barrier to avoid slipping the whole way down.
At the base of the hill are two more caves: the Art Gallery and Museum caves. These caves were collectively renamed as Cave Villa and there is an entrance fee of RM15 for foreigners; RM7 for Malaysian residents. Both caves are full of Hindu statues and paintings. Many of which depict tales of the Ramayana and stories of Lord Murugan’s victory over the demon Soorapadam.
Numerous stands selling food, souvenirs, clothes, and even a stall for Henna tattoos can also be found at the base of the cave. We stopped to get something to drink and talked to a few vendors while on it. They told us about the Hindu festival Thaipusam, which is celebrated heavily at the cave in Jan/Feb. Describing how festive it is, oh how I wish I could see that as it sounded amazing!
Looking back, I can say that it was an awesome experience. The Hindu temples within the caves were pretty interesting. It’s one of those places not to be missed when you’re around Kuala Lumpur.
How to go there: From Kuala Lumpur City proper you can get to Batu Caves in 3 ways:
Happy travels everyone 🙂