A wondrous site born of nature and religious culture, Batu Caves is not only a place of breathtaking beauty but also a cultural icon.
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Batu Caves is, without a doubt, one of Malaysia's most unique wonders. Its sheer natural beauty, with an intricate network of tunnels and grottos carved into the stunning limestone face of a cliff wall, is awesome to behold. Yet that very beauty is enhanced by an air of quiet spiritualism that surrounds this unique religious Hindu site.
Its status as one the most popular Hindu religious sites outside of India can be traced back to the late 19th century, when an Indian trader visited the caves and was inspired by the entrance of the main cave, which reminded him of the vel, or spear, the potent symbol of the Hindu deity Lord Murugan. In the years that followed, this Indian trader founded a temple in Kuala Lumpur, the Sri Mahamariamman Temple, and installed a consecrated statue in the biggest cave within the Batu Caves network. As time passed, the practise of celebrating Thaipusam, a festival commemorating Lord Murugan's victory over a demon, at Batu Caves gained hold and the caves grew in prominence as a religious site.
Visiting Batu Caves is like undertaking a pilgrimage, as visitors have to make their way up a flight of 272 steps in order to reach the entrance of the caves. At the foot of the hills, a large golden statue of Lord Murugan, the principal Hindu deity connected to the site, stands, seemingly like a vigilant sentinel against unseen evil. The cave temple complex, a total of three main caves and a couple of smaller ones, is dominated by the biggest cave, known alternately as Cathedral Cave or Temple Cave. This cave, with a 100 metre high ceiling houses several shrines dedicated to Hindu deities. Other caves offer interesting perspectives into the Hindu pantheon and myths, and are adorned with statues of deities and paintings depicting the popular myth of Lord Murugan.
With its natural beauty and religious significance, Batu Caves remains an important and unique site in a country filled with a thousand sights and sounds.
Batu Caves is located in Gombak district, and is roughly 13 kilometres from Kuala Lumpur. It is accessible by road. There are plans to extend the Komuter train service from Sentul all the way to Batu Caves, but work has yet to be completed.
There are some intracity buses that travel to Batu Caves, namely RapidKL's U1 and U10 buses from Chow Kit.
Every year, Batu Caves is the focal point for local Thaipusam celebrations, a festival commemorating the victory of Lord Murugan over the demon Soorapadam. The celebration includes a procession from Sri Mahamariamman Temple in the heart of Kuala Lumpur to Batu Caves by devotees. Containers of milk are traditional offerings carried by devotees, either by hand or in huge decorated carriers known as kavadi on this procession.