Batu Caves in Kuala Lumpur - Top Things to See in Malaysia
The Batu Caves are one of the top tourist attractions in Kuala Lumpur. Giant stalactites and stalagmites are found inside the caverns of a huge limestone hill that was formed over 400 million years ago in the district of Gombak near Kuala Lumpur. In addition to being a hugely popular tourist destination, this location is also a place of worship and a cultural celebration for the Indian and Hindu people in Malaysia. Several shrines and temples have been established inside the caves.
The Batu Caves are located about twelve kilometres from the Malaysian capital city of Kuala Lumpur.
Did You Know?
The name Batu Caves was derived from the nearby river Sungei Batu (Rocky River) and Bukit Batu (Rocky Hill) where the main Temple Cave is located.
The Caves Are a Sacred and Religious Place
The iconic Batu Caves site is dedicated to the Hindu god of war called Lord Murugan. A gigantic and majestic golden statue of Lord Murugan located at the entrance of the Batu Caves can be seen from the highway that runs parallel to this famous stretch of limestone formation. The golden statue was completed in 2006 and stands at a height of over 42 metres. Made of concrete and steel bars, this statue is the tallest Lord Murugan statue in the world.
The Hindu festival of Thaipusam is celebrated at the vicinity of Batu Caves in January or February every year. It has claimed that over a million tourists, visitors and Hindu devotees from other parts of the world flock to this pilgrimage site during Thaipusam to either witness or participate in the sacred ceremony. Despite the fact that its religious origins were from India, this venue holds the grandest Thaipusam celebrations in the world.
Thaipusam is a Hindu festival celebrating the victory of Lord Murugan over the Surapadman devil. The festival has been celebrated at Batu Caves since 1892.
Things to Do and See at the Batu Caves
There are many interesting stalls outside the Batu Caves, selling food and drinks, toys, souvenirs, Indian fashion items and Hindu religious items. Beautiful garlands of flowers are part of the traditional Indian culture. These fragrant garlands are worn by the Hindus during worship ceremonies and other festivities.
Henna body painting is popular among the Indian women during religious ceremonies, weddings and other important occasions. The henna dye is made from plant materials. Unlike tattoo ink, the henna dye is not a permanent ink and will disappear after a week. There is a henna art stall near the entrance of the caves that offers beautiful body painting for a small fee.
There is a beautiful pond with a zigzag bridge over it. Visitors can take a walk over the bridge to see some fish, tortoises and terrapins living in the pond. The zigzag bridge leads to the Valluvar Kottam and Art Gallery Caves. There are murals and inscriptions on the cave walls of the Valluvar Kottam. A statue of a five-legged bull sits near the entrance of the Art Gallery Caves. The bull used to roam the temple grounds of the Batu Caves with other cows that lived in the area. The fifth leg grew from the back of the bull.
A Hindu temple is located near the entrance of the Batu Caves. All footwear must be removed before entering the temple.
Hundreds of rock pigeons wander around the courtyard in front of the temple and cave entrance. They are pretty tame and their presence is a symbol of peace and devotion.
The Fun Starts Here
The staircase leading to the big Temple Cave was repainted in mid-2018 with vibrant rainbow colors. Entry to the caves is free but visitors can make a voluntary donation in one of the donation boxes provided.
The most interesting (or challenging) part of the Batu Caves tour is climbing the steps to get to the caves. The steps were originally made of wood but they have been replaced with the existing concrete steps. There are a lot of steps to climb to get to the caves in this enchanting limestone hill. A long stairway consisting of 272 steps is not too difficult for those with good health conditions. Comfortable shoes, a sunhat and a bottle of water are essential items to have on a stinking hot day!
The steps get narrower and steeper towards the top. There are numerous landings along the way for those who want to catch a breath or enjoy the view of Kuala Lumpur in the distance. Concrete walls along the steep stairway act as hand railings for those who want to get a steady hold while climbing the steps.
Respect the Dress Code
All visitors are advised to dress appropriately as they will be entering sacred grounds.
Watch Out for the Monkeys!
Wild monkeys inhabit the surrounding areas of the caves. Many visitors are excited to see monkeys leaping from one pole to another right in front of them or over their heads. Occasionally, an unsuspecting visitor who has pithecophobia might freak out and scream at the sight of a baby monkey.
Some visitors may think the monkeys are there to "meet-and-greet" the people, but in reality, these animals are on the lookout for any food the people may have to offer them. Monkeys are territorial in nature and they tend to be aggressive at times. They will snatch anything that looks attractive to them, like snacks, fruits and even mobile phones and small cameras! The monkeys will attack and bite if provoked, so watch out! Do not annoy the monkeys. Avoid feeding or touching them. It is best to ignore them and watch the steps in front of you.
On the way going up to the caves, there is a landing on the left that leads to the Dark Cave. Delicate crystals and cave formations in the Dark Cave still remain untouched by man. Access to the Dark Cave is restricted as the Malaysian government wants to preserve the untouched caverns that are found in the two-kilometre network of natural formations in the Dark Cave area.
Visitors can enter the Dark Cave on a guided tour at a designated time by purchasing tickets from the information booth outside the Batu Caves.
Interesting Fact ...
Batu Caves is believed to be the only place in the world where Liphistius Batuensis, a rare and endangered species of the trapdoor spider, still exists.
After climbing what seems like a never-ending number of steps, you will find yourself totally out of breath and perhaps a little dizzy due to the hot and humid weather. You finally end up standing at the entrance of the biggest cave—the Ramayana Cave. After spending a great amount of your energy climbing to get up here, the limestone formation looks huge and really amazing. It is well worth the effort!
Upon entering the cave, you will be mesmerised by the size of the Ramayana Cave. The gigantic cave is well lit and the atmosphere inside the cave is serene and cool as compared to the hot and humid temperatures outside.
As this is a sacred place, it is advisable to treat the caves and worshippers with respect. Avoid talking loudly and do not leave any rubbish behind. There are several shrines where there will be worshippers praying to their gods. Statues of Hindu gods can be seen in various areas in the caves as well as carvings on the limestone walls.
There are more steps to climb within the Ramayana Cave. The steps lead to a few smaller caves behind the large cavern. There are many amazing rock formations, stalagmites and stalactites in the different caves.
It is a rewarding experience and descending the steps is so much easier when leaving the Batu Caves!
Have you been to the Batu Caves?
How to Get to the Batu Caves
There are several ways to get to this local attraction: by car, train and taxi. The cheapest mode is by train. There is a direct KTM Komuter train service from KL Sentral Railway Station to the Batu Caves Station, the fare is cheap as chips, only a couple of ringgit (Malaysian currency) per person. The journey takes about 40–45 minutes. The caves' location is only a short walk from the train station.
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