Immerse yourself within the Malaysian Indian culture by visiting Batu Caves.
Batu Caves Kuala Lumpur is a series of caves that are located approximately 13 kilometers north of Kuala Lumpur (KL). The caves got their name from the river that flows nearby, “Sungei Batu” (Malay for “Stone River”). Coincidently the nearby village is also known as Batu Caves.
The caves are one of the most revered Hindu shrines that are found outside of India. Dedicated to the Hindu deity, Lord Murugan or Kartikeya, it is the spot where a million Hindus converge each year during the Thaipusam Festival.
To understand how Batu Caves became so famous and so important to the Hindus in Malaysia, a little background about the place will help set things into perspective.
Batu Caves Kuala Lumpur had been said to be inhabited by the indigenous ‘Orang Asli’ (Malay for ‘Original people'). Later around the 1860s, the Chinese immigrants started to harvest the bat manure (Guano) found here and used it to fertilize their vegetable plots. However, it wasn’t until it was promoted as a place of worship by an Indian trader K. Thamboosamy Pillai, that Batu Caves KL really became well known.
It was said that Pillai was enlightened to erect a shrine in Batu Caves because he was inspired by the ‘Vel’ shaped entrance of Batu Caves. “Vel” is the Tamil word for a arrow, a lance, a javelin or a spear. Pillai was also the one who had the consecrated statue of the deity Sri Subramania Swamy installed in the Chamber of the Temple Cave. Since 1892, Batu Caves has been the focal point of the Thaipusam Festival celebration for Hindus in Malaysia.
The first thing that will greet you when you reach Batu Caves is the world’s tallest statue of the Hindu deity Lord Murugan.
It stand 140 feet high and it took over 250 tons of steel bars, 1550 cubic meters of concrete and 300 liters of special gold paint, imported from Thailand, to construct. The next thing that will hold you in awe about Batu Caves is the 272 steps that you have to climb, if you want to reach the main entrance of the caves, by the time you get to the top, awe maybe the wrong word to describe how you feel. The 272 steps are definitely not for anyone who is physically challenged!
Batu Caves Kuala Lumpur actually comprise of 3 main caves with Temple Cave/Cathedral Cave as the major cave.
The main chamber of Temple Cave stands at 100 meters high and is the chamber where most of the Hindu shrines are located.
The other two minor caves at the base of the hill are the Art Gallery Cave and the Museum Cave. Both of these caves feature statues and paintings of Hindu deities. From what I gathered, the statues and paintings are mostly related to the story of how Lord Murugan triumphed over the evil demon Soorapadam. I am not much into Hindu mythology but what fascinated me about Batu Caves Kuala Lumpur is what you get to see during the Thaipusam Festival.
Getting to Batu Caves
To get to Batu Caves, you can take a taxi from the Golden Triangle (the Central
business District). This will set you back around MYR20 to MYR30.
Alternatively, you can opt for public
transportation. Just hop on Bus #11 or Bus #11d at the Puduraya Bus Terminal. You can also get a bus at Lebuh Pudu in Chinatown. Here the buses to take are Bus #70 or Bus #349.
The Batu Caves KL are well worth a visit, it can get a bit crowded and the stairs can seem a bit daunting, but you will be well pleased once at the top with your effort.
Don’t forget your on holiday so “have a go!”
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