Thursday, July 26, 2012

Batu Caves Temple in Malaysia

Batu Caves, the biggest venue of the Thaipusam celebrations in Malaysia, is one of the major tourist attractions in Selangor. Located 13 km north of Kuala Lumpur, Batu Caves is another of several places in Malaysia whose name is a combination of words in Malay and English with related meanings. Batu means stone in Malay, so Batu Caves could well mean stone caves. Other similar combination in place names includes Muka Head. I have visited Batu Caves several times, and most recently I explored it once more with my fiancée Chooi Yoke, when we were documenting the sights in Selangor for AsiaExplorers.
Batu Caves were first discovered by an American explorer by the name of William Hornaby in 1891. Ten years later, the local Indians persuaded the British authorities to allow them to use the caves as a Hindu place of worship. A shrine was built in honor of the deity Lord Murugan, also known as Lord Subramaniam. In later years, another shrine was added, dedicated to the elephant-head deity Ganesh.
The main cavern of Batu Caves is also known as the Cathedral Cave, due to the height of its ceiling. This main cavern is reached by a steep flight of steps that total 272. Until the completion of the new Balathandayuthapani temple building in Penang, this is the longest flight of steps of any Hindu temples in the country. From the top of the steps, one can get a good view of the northern part of Kuala Lumpur. About 2/3 of the way up the steps is a path leading to Dark Cave, which has narrow passages full of bats. 
Batu Caves are busiest during Thaipusam, a Hindu festival celebrated during full moon in the month of Thai, which falls roughly between mid-January to mid-February. This is when devotees ascend Batu Caves carrying kavadi (meaning "burdens") as a form of penance.
Batu Caves, the most famous cave temple in Malaysia.
How to go to Batu Caves
Batu Caves is located about 13 kilometers north of Kuala Lumpur. From Kuala Lumpur, take Jalan Kuching followed by Jalan Ipoh, all the way to the MRR (Middle Ring Road), where you turn right. Batu Caves is just a short distance from the intersection of Jalan Ipoh and MRR.
If you are coming from the north, ie Penang, exit the North-South Expressway at the Sungai Buluh Interchange (Exit 113) and head east on the MRR. Continue along the MRR until you see the huge statue of Murugan in front of Batu Caves, and prepare to exit the elevated MRR.
Batu Caves Photo Album

Archway into the Batu Caves Hindu Temple.
The shrine at the foot of the steps.
Statue of the Hindu deity Murugan.
View up the 272 steps of Batu Caves.
Entrance into Batu Caves at the top of the 272 steps.
A statue of a deity in one of the niches on the wall of the cave.
Entering the main cavern of Batu Caves.
Looking back from inside Batu Caves.
Looking down from the second flight of steps.

The innermost sanctuary at Batu Caves.
Entrance to Dark Caves, where caving expedition can be done.