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Visiting the Batu Caves Hindu Shrine
The marvelous Batu Caves Hindu shrine is just a short train ride away from riveting Kuala Lumpur. It was one of the main attractions that I was aiming for during my Malaysian escape.
The entire Batu Caves trip consumed only about a third of a day and I also met a new friend on the way there!
Under no condition should you miss out on visiting this religious attraction, provided that you have at least one full day at your disposal in Kuala Lumpur.
Getting there is rather easy and cheap. There are no entry fees!
Plus: if you go there in the morning, then you can have the rest of the day all for KL's top attractions!
The Batu Caves Hindu shrine in all its splendour
It took a short time to get there from central Kuala Lumpur. The distance was about 13 km from KL Sentral and the train and walking consumed about half an hour altogether.
The nearby village has the same name (Batu Caves), as the religious site itself.
The Entrance Shrine
The Batu Caves are a Hindu shrine and also a major tourist attraction in the State of Selangor. And, this site is among Malaysia's top travel attractions. And: it's also among Asia's most famous religious sites.
The Batu Caves complex is the World's most popular Hindu shrine outside India.
The primary deity venerated is Lord Murugan, the god of love, war, victory and wisdom.
His gigantic golden statue stands in front of the cave system's main entrance.
This is also the place where the Thaipusam Hindu Festival takes place (celebrated by the Tamil community in Malaysia).
So-called "vel skewers" (sharp metallic objects) are used by performers to piece their skin and some even pierce their flesh (!) during the rituals. Apparently, without bleeding!
The area is full of monkeys, who roam especially around the stairs, occasionally jumping and running around visitors.
The monkeys have terrifying sharp teeth!
And here, they're considered sacred animals, so I'm not sure how you could deter a potential attack from them.
Put your shiny belongings like sunglasses away and hold on tight to your camera and bag.
These monkeys steal anything they can lay their delicate little hands on. The little pickpockets won't hesitate to attack you in group and snatch your belongings!
They just grab and run. And they won't hesitate to take a bite, if they feel like it!
Now, let's see more about the caves...
About the Cave Complex
Immense Golden Murugan statue
I was surprised to find out that the construction of the religious site dates back to 1891 only.
At first, I would have thought it's some sort of an ancient site, hence I was guessing several hundreds of years at least.
It's not that old, but still a wonderful place to visit. Scenic. And it won't take a long time either, 30-45 minutes will do.
The caves are found on the sides of large limestone cliffs.
They rise almost 100 m above sea level and there's some dense green vegetation on their sides as well.
Experts say it took 400 million years for the caves to form...
Note that because where there's more green vegetation, there are more mosquitoes. I paid extra attention to spraying myself with insect-repellent. I didn't want to get bitten, but perhaps it was because of the repellent.
Although this place is not like a jungle area, some insect bites could still occur.
Before you get near the main entrance, you will encounter a smaller, yet still 15 m (50 feet) high light green statue of Hanuman, a noble monkey devotee of Lord Rama (see the photo a bit higher at the on this page).
The golden Lord Murugan statue is a staggering 42.7 m (140 ft) tall. Immense!
That's just a bit smaller than the Statue of Liberty in New York (which is 46 m tall).
You might wander what it's made of...
The material is actually concrete, steel and gold-coloured paint (300 litres were used to cover it all!).
Entrance gate in front of the stairs
I was surprised again to read how new the Murugan statue was: it was finalized in January 2006.
The construction took 3 years.
This golden statue is the largest Lord Murugan statue in the entire World. Not that it would be very popular to build immense Murugan statues...
272 steps lead all the way up to the entrance of the main caves. It can be quite tiring to climb them...
The stairs aren't just tall, they're abrupt. In addition, the rain made them slippery.
Just before getting to the Batu Caves, rain has fallen in the area, so the stairs were quite slippery. The air also felt damp, slightly thick.
To get an idea of the height of these stairs, check the first photo on this page.
The climb requires energy... Despite my regular jogging and running on stairs, I did have to stop a few times as I was ascending.
Looking up. Not so much left to climb.
Macaque monkeys were running across, up and down, some with their kids.
They can spread disease and they can bite through flesh ferociously, I heard. I did my best to keep myself at a safe distance, but they are lighting-fast jumpers and runners and attack even unprovoked.
The complex of the Batu Caves contains 3 main caves and several smaller ones.
The main (biggest cave) is the Cathedral Cave, which is also known as Temple Cave.
This was the only we visited, I wasn't enthusiastic about entering some "Dark Cave" towards which a sign was pointing.
The main cave
There are two other caves at the base of the cliffs: Art Gallery Cave and Museum Cave - both hold Hindu statues and paintings.
These are huge indeed, I felt like in a large European cathedral. Kind-of-like the imposing Santa Eulália in Barcelona.
Of course, the main cave (Cathedral Cave) is the most important on. You'll be able to enter it, right after having climbed the stairs (and having survived the monkeys' pranks).
In there, you'll see various smaller shrines decorated with colourful statues.
Unfortunately, my camera battery died on me, so I couldn't continue taking photos.
Nor was my equipment good enough in the poor lighting conditions anyway...
I left the Batu Caves with slight resentment, but at least I immortalized its most important parts.
There's is a page on another site - right here, containing shots of the colourful statues that are inside the cave.
In addition to the 3 mentioned caves, there is also a so-called Dark Cave, whose entrance is found to the left of the main cave's entrance.
It's a 2 km-long cave network if you want to see cave curtains, stalactites, flow stones, cave pearls, scallots, then check it out!
It's also full of animals, like spiders, centipedes, a wide-variety of insects. I profoundly feel disgusted by insects, so I cut the "wonderful experience" out!
Small temple inside
When you reach one of those small temples (like the one above), don't step on it (unless you have taken your shoes off).
It's forbidden to enter them with shoes on...
They have an entrance and it's considered rude to step in from the side.
Please take account of these ethical aspects whenever visiting similar shrines.
The colourful statuettes on the temple's roof
At the time of my visit there were no entry fees being charged, so basically it should be free to enter the Batu Caves (unless things change in the mean time).
The limestone cave's ceiling has peculiar shapes on it (which reminded me of the coral-like shapes seen on the rear of the Sagrada Família Cathedral in Barcelona - well, this doesn't mean there's a strong similarity, though...).
My own Murugan statue!
Apart from all these mentioned, the Batu Caves is a good place for buying unique souvenirs - ones that you won't find elsewhere.
In fact, one of my most beautiful souvenirs that I bought (ever) was this small Lord Murugan statue - he's still guarding my bookshelf!
At first, I tried bargaining, but the Indian seller just laughed at me, as this wasn't possible unlike in the KL Chinatown, you can't bargain.
My golden Murugan statuette protects me from all evil and gives me inspiration, luck and blessings!
Cost me 37 MYR, which is a bit over 11 US dollars or more than 8 euros.
The seller had 8-9 pieces left only. All of them flawed except this one.
I picked the one closest to perfection.
Other than this statue, I bought up lots of postcards about Malaysia.
Among all souvenirs I bought in Malaysia, the Lord Murugan statue is my favourite one.
Several more photos of the place worth seeing are found below...
Some of which depict monkeys and hence, I can't help observing the strong human features of the apes.
How come they resemble us so much?
Or is it vice-versa and we resemble them?
I wish I also had toes like that for grabbing things
The old guy... Contemplating like a philosopher.
Monkey kid with his mom
Fresh green coconuts. Do monkeys eat coconuts? I don't know, but I sure love 'em!
The stairs don't go straight
The Temple Cave
About the Author:
Escape Hunter, the young solo traveler in his early 30's explores the World driven by curiosity, thirst for adventure, deep passion for beauty, love for freedom and diversity.
With a nuanced, even humorous approach to travel, an obsession for art and design, Escape Hunter prefers to travel slowly, in order to learn and "soak up" the local atmosphere...
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