Experiences - Asia

Batu Caves – A Monumental Attraction

Just about 13 kilometers away from the city of Kuala Lumpur is the magnificent Batu caves situated in Selangor, Malaysia. A sacred place for the Hindus as the famous Hindu shrine dedicated to the deity Lord Murugan ( God of  War) stands majestically at the spot, which is about 113 years old.

Batu caves is a series of limestone hills and cave temples which takes its name from the Sungai Batu (Batu River), which flows past the hill. These caves are composed of three main caves with a few smaller cavelets.

As you approach the caves, you will notice the huge golden statue of Lord Murugan, 42.7-metre (140 ft) high which was unveiled in January 2006. It is the tallest Murugan statue in the world and has taken 3 years to construct it. The deity and stands guard to the 272 steps that lead up to the cave entrances.

batu caves kuala lumpur

Image Courtesy: Yeoh Thean Kheng used under the Creative Commons Licence

Beware as you make your way up the steps, as a lot of monkeys will welcome you to the caves.

You will enter the largest Temple Cave, which has a ceiling of about 300 feet, inside which you will find various Hindu shrines.

The entrance below Temple Cave is known as dark cave which is known to be the wildest of the three caves here. It has splendid limestone formations and is home to many species of cave.

There’s also an art gallery which contains Hindu carvings and wall paintings that depict tales of Lord Murugan and other Hindu legends near the bridge.

inside batu caves kuala lumpur

Image Courtesy: Christopher Chan used under the Creative Commons Licence

Batu caves in Malaysia receives the maximum number of people in the month of January every year which celebrates the Thaipusam festival dedicated to Lord Murugan. As many as 800,000 devotees and other visitors throng the place and perform penance or sacrifice, by carrying kavadis (literally, “burden,” such as a pitcher or jug) in the hope that the deity will fulfill their wishes.

Kavadis are beautiful works of religious art – embellished with peacock feathers and aluminum plates bearing pictures of Hindu deities.  They could weigh up to 33 pounds. The skewers, feathers are worn by the devotees and a procession leading a chariot bearing the statue of Lord Murugan, is followed by devotees carrying kavadis and other sacrifices.

The procession takes about eight hours  and the devotees carry the image of Lord Murugan up the 272 steps leading to the caves, with the kavadi, assisted by their family.  The sound of drums and flutes fill the air, and keeps the devotes in a trance, which will also help them to temporarily forget the pain caused by the skewers and focus on their prayers.

Thaipusam batu caves kuala lumpur

Image Courtesy: Daniel Chong Kah Fui used under the Creative Commons Licence

Batu caves are open all around the year between 7:00AM to 7:00PM and can be reached by taxi, car, bus or trains. There are stalls and restaurants in the precincts of the caves that offer Indian food.

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