Batu Caves is a limestone hill comprising three major caves and a number of smaller ones. Considered one of Kuala Lumpur’s most frequented tourist attractions, this 100-year-old temple features idols and statues erected inside the main caves and around it. Incorporated with interior limestone formations said to be around 400 million years old, the temple is considered an important religious landmark by Hindus.
There are 3 main attractions at Batu Caves which is a limestone hill riddled with caves.
Temple Cave / Cathedral Cave
The main Cave is known as the Temple Cave or Cathedral Cave and is accessed by a steep flight of 272 steps.
The steps are thronged with troupes of greedy monkeys who will harass you for food, if you are carrying any and it’s advised not to feed them.
The top of the stairs brings you into a massive cave with a high vaulted ceiling. The cave serves as a Hindu Temple devoted to Lord Muragan whose 42 meter high gold statue stands guard outside. During the Thaipusam festival, usually held around the end of January – hundreds of thousands of believers will throng to the cave, including a number who impale themselves with skewers and hooks as acts of penitence and devotion.
The procession more often than not, arrives at Batu Caves in the wee hours of the morning the next day; the entire celebration commences then and is a colorful event that lasts a total of eight hours. In the past the festival has attracted more than one million pilgrims, making it one of the largest gatherings in the world.
Unless you are particularly fond of huge crowds or wish to take part in the festival, you might want to avoid visiting Batu Caves at this time.
There is no entry fee for visiting the Temple Cave although you may leave a donation in one of the collection boxes if you wish.
Half way up the flight of stairs is the entrance to the second main attraction, the Dark Cave.
This is more of an adventure cave with educational and scientific interest.
It is not always open and depends on the availability of a guide without whom you are not allowed to enter. We didn’t enter the Dark Cave as we didn’t engage the services of any guide. Yes, I was backpacking with my 7 year old daughter (age 7 during the time of our trip). Amazing, yes? =)
The Dark Cave is said to be home to the rarest spider in the world, the Trapdoor Spider, and an ancient animal community dating back over 100 million years.
If you cannot manage to climb the 272 steps and if the Dark Cave sounds too creepy you can instead visit the 3rd main attraction, the Cave Villa which lies at the foot of the limestone hill.
You have to pay an entrance fee and cross a crooked bridge over a Koi pond. Here there are two more caves.
One illuminated with colored lights and containing brightly painted statues and paintings of Indian poets and characters from Hindu mythology. You can read the plaques containing pearls of oriental wisdom while strolling around the humid caves.
The second cave here also house a reptile conservatory, with cages, glass display tanks full of snakes and other reptiles.
Personally, we preferred this cave and found it much more interesting then the Temple / Cathedral Cave (the main attraction). Look at the pictures and you’ll know why, I’ll let the pictures do the talking.
Also, we found the illuminated cave in the Cave Villa extremely mind blowing! Again, it surpassed the “main attraction”. If you understand Hinduism and have seen Hindu artwork, you’ll know it is VERY TRIPPY! In this cave, it seems these painters wanted to recreate a scene out of an acid trip, truly psychedelic!!
Bhang Lassi… maybe? Nah, I’m definitely sure!
Those hippies… hehe!
In the courtyard outside the caves you can see a statue of a five legged bull which used to roam freely in the temple grounds until its death from old age.
There’s also statues of three monkeys covering different parts of their face, signifying; see no evil, hear no evil & speak no evil. This reminds me of a very similar counterpart back in Japan, which is in Nikko – at the Toshogu, which is the mausoleum of Tokugawa Ieyasu.
There’re also animals roaming freely.
Majority of these animals are birds like; Peacocks, Turkeys, Chickens, Ducks and some Rabbits.
You can also get to carry many different birds like Parrots, Cockatoos and many more. Not only birds, but also, Iguanas and Monitor Lizards!
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