There are a lot of attractions in Malaysia that is known throughout the world. Its capital city of Kuala Lumpur attracts millions of visitors every year for the plethora of shopping opportunities, amazing attractions, diverse culture, and the Batu Caves. For those very few, unfamiliar with the Batu Caves temple in Malaysia, here’s everything you need to know about this incredible place.
The Batu temple and Cave:
Named after the Sungai Batu river flowing past the hill, the Batu caves is a series of cave temples and caves on a limestone hill. There is also a village by the name Batu that is nearby the hills. The Batu cave temple is dedicated to lord Murugan, the Hindu deity, and is one of the most popular Hindu shrine outside India.
At the base of the hill, there are two cave temples- a Museum cave, and Art Gallery cave that contains paintings and statues of Hindu deities. The Murugan temple in Batu Caves is managed by the Board of Management of Shri Mariamman Temple Devastanam that manages other important Hindu temples in Malaysia and also is a Hindu Religious Consultant body to the Government of Malaysia.
To the extreme left is another cave, The Ramayana cave. On the way to the Ramayana cave you will see a tall statue of Hanuman, the monkey aide of the deity Ram. The Ramayana cave depicts the story of the deity Ram along the walls of the cave.
Dating back to 400 million years, Batu caves is located 13 kilometers to the north of Kuala Lumpur. The 400 meters long and 100 meters high caves were discovered in 1872, but became popular after the Indian trader Thamboosamy Pillai saw the cave and installed a statue of Lord Murugan in it in the year 1890. Initially, wooden steps were built to reach this temple cave which has now been replaced with 272 concrete steps. A series of caves some small and some bigger, the largest is the famous temple cave as it houses numerous Hindu shrines.
Celebrations and festivities:
Batu caves is also the center of Rock Climbing development since the past 10 years in Malaysia. It offers more than 160 climbing paths. People fond of spelunking can avail services of companies that offer educational trips to the caves and also provide all the equipment for such an adventure.
You can find many monkeys at the temple which are fed peanuts by visitors. There are vendors who specially sell these at the base of the hill. The Hindu deity Hanuman is believed to be a monkey and that is why no monkey is harmed at the place. You can click pics of these monkeys and watch the crowd worshipping, feeding, and playing with them too.
The festival of Thaipusam celebrated by Hindus has its focal point here. Every year for this festival as many as 8 lakh visitors throng the caves. The procession starts from the Mahamariamman temple in Kuala Lumpur and lasts for around eight hours. The devotees carry pitchers of milk as an offering to the lord Murugan either on hand or on shoulders in kavadi (wooden carriers decorated with peacock feathers imported from India). After taking a refreshing dip in the Batu river, the devotees climb the fleet of stairs to visit the temple in Batu cave.
While the devotees take the wider staircase at the center, the onlookers take the balustrades on either side. You will also see devotees getting their backs pierced as a form of penance. While removing the hooks, the priests ensure that blood is not shed by sprinkling ash. It might sound strange but it is a sight to witness if you’re there during the festival. The atmosphere is electrifying and you definitely don’t want to miss the festival if you’re in Kuala Lumpur during that time.
Since the year 1970, housing development projects began and the small village surrounding the caves changed to industrial estate with new houses and shops. Although, this move has made the area more commercialized but it also has made it extremely convenient for the tourists.
The Batu Cave facts:
• The iconic statue of Lord Murugan at the start of the cave is a whopping 43 meters high, constructed of 1550 cubic meters of concrete and 250 tons of steel bars. All the material for its creation was brought from Thailand.
• The statue of lord Murugan is painted with 300 liters of gold paint and it shines very brightly when the sun is up. It is the tallest statue of lord Murugan in the world.
• To reach the cave a fleet of 272 steps has to be climbed and there’s no other way. The management gives restricted access to the visitors in order to maintain the ecology of the cave with rock formations formed over thousands of years.
• The Batu caves is home to vibrant fauna with Liphistiidae spiders and Eonycteris and fruit bats. These are some of the unique species in the world.
How to reach Batu Caves:
There’s a special station called the Batu Caves Komuter Station that brings a commuter train from the Kuala Lumpur Central. It costs around 3.6 RM for a one-way ticket to reach the Batu Caves from Kuala Lumpur. Special Bus services are also available from Bangkok terminus. You can also reach Btu Caves by road.