Whether you’re a resident of Malaysia or a tourist for a few days in the country, you’re bound to have heard of the famous Batu Caves, a network of caves converted into a Hindu temple.
It ranks at the top when it comes to ‘Things to do in Kuala Lumpur’, and is a great religious and educational experience. Read on to find out more about Batu Caves and why it’s such an attraction!
The limestone mountain in which the Batu Caves are set in are said to be almost 400 million years old! The caves were used as shelters by local tribesmen (the Orang Aslis) and also by Chinese farmers who collected the guano formed in the caves for fertilising crops.
The caves came to the public eye in 1878 when American Naturalist, William Hornaday first recorded it. Following this, in 1891 K. Thamboosamy Pillai, an Indian trader, decided to convert these caves into a shrine for the Hindu Deity, Lord Murugan.
As soon as you’re in the vicinity of Batu Caves, you’ll come across the imposing statue of Lord Murugan, the Hindu God of War and to whom the temple is devoted. Covered in gold paint, this 140 feet high statue greets you at the entrance to the stairs leading up to the temple. This statue is the tallest Murugan statue in the world!
As you climb up the steps to the shrine, about halfway up you’ll find the entrance to the Dark Cave. The Dark Cave is a 2km stretch of rock formations that is home to a community of animals that date back to a 100 million years. It’s well researched by many scientists, and the Malaysian Nature Society does it’s best to conserve the natural habitat within the cave. For this reason, this mysterious section is cordoned off from the general public, and entering the cave is a selective process done by booking a tour in advance. It’s a must visit for those interested in speleology or if you want to see the rarest spider in the world, the Trapdoor Spider (Liphistius batuensis).
At the base of the main Temple cave, to the left you’ll see the 15 metre tall statue of Hanuman, the ardent devotee of Lord Ram. He stands guard outside the Ramayana Cave, a cave depicting the events of the Ramayana in colourful paintings and idols.
The main attraction and religious site, the Cathedral Cave or Temple Cave is a huge cave with a ceiling that seems to go on for miles! The only form of natural light comes from the holes in the ceiling, giving the cave an aura of spirituality. The cave has numerous statues of Hindu deities and paintings depicting Hindu mythology, along with some lush greenery growing out of the cave walls.
To reach this impressive cave, you’ll need to climb the 272 steps leading up to it. While the trip may sound daunting, the experience is certainly worth it!
PropertyLife Tip: The Macaques Monkeys act as your companions as you climb up the steps to the temple, but beware of the naughty beings. In the blink of an eye, they can snatch your belongings, be it a camera, some fruits or your sunglasses!
At the base of the stairs you’ll find the Cave Villa. Cave Villa is a relatively new tourist attraction set up near the entrance to the main temple, offering visitors a chance to educate themselves with the story behind Lord Murugan and other deities through interactive pictures and videos.
Located a few miles away from Batu Caves, you can find the largest wholesale market in the city called Pasar Borong! From fresh fruits and vegetables to the daily catch of seafood, this market is the perfect place to stock up on your weekly groceries. Pasar Borong opens up in the wee hours of the morning at 3 am and shuts down shop at 9 am, a six-hour frenzy of buying and selling fresh produce.
The limestone nature of these mountains makes it a perfect place to try some rock climbing. Batu Caves has become Malaysia’s major spot for rock-climbing for a few years now, and with the help of a guide you can climb about 170 different types of routes!
Thaipusam is a Hindu festival that falls sometime in late January to early February, and is a celebration over Lord Murugan’s birthday. This festival attracts thousands of devotees to the Batu Caves (over 1.6 million people were expected for the 2017 Thaipusam celebrations), acting as a pilgrimage site for Hindus all over the world.
A big procession starts the night before at Sri Mahamariamman Temple (the oldest temple in KL), and by dawn devotees carry ‘kavadis’, huge artfully decorated containers filled with milk, as offerings to the Lord up the steps to the main temple. Some followers even pierce themselves with hooks and skewers as a tradition.
During this festive season, the base of the Batu Caves is converted into a market place, where sellers from Malaysia and India showcase various artifacts, clothes and food items.
Heading to Batu Caves via train is very straightforward and simple enough. Starting off from KL Sentral, you can hop onto the KTM train heading towards Batu Caves, which is the last stop. Trains run every 15-20 minutes, and it takes about half an hour to reach the caves from KL Sentral.
If you’re coming in from the city centre, it’s about a forty-minute drive to Batu Caves. Major highways, such as the MRR2, connect the area to the rest of the city.
You can visit these awe-inspiring caves everyday between 6 in the morning to 9 at night. Fun fact: many people make it a point to visit the Batu Caves temple everyday, be it for prayers or for a little exercise.
Being a religious site, it’s best to dress appropriately. Traditional wear and other decent clothing that don't over-expose the body would be your best bet. Short skirts and shorts are frowned upon.
Batu Caves is a non-expensive day trip, with most of the attractions being free. The main temple does not charge any fee. The Cave Villa does charge a minimum amount for visitors, and the entrance fees for the Dark Cave depends on the tour package booked.
Spending a day at Batu Caves is highly recommended. Not only is there so much history, culture and religious belief behind these caves but it also provides an educational and adventurous experience for many! Let us know how you like spending your day in Batu Caves in the comments down below!
Born in India, raised all over the world, I’m currently based here in Malaysia, truly enjoying this Asian enclave. Starting off as a fiction writer for many online publishing sites, I’ve moved on to following one of my major passions: Copywriting. For more than a few years now I’ve worked with companies to create some great web content, particularly in the real-estate field. From reviewing property developments to writing home improvement articles, I do believe the property world is my calling. When I’m not holed up behind a computer screen, you can find me reading a good book, gallivanting across the globe or merely listening to some tunes on my iPod.