Kuala Lumpur, home to roughly 1.8 million inhabitants, may first strike you as a contemporary city peppered with shopping centres and towering high-rises. However, delve a bit deeper and you'll discover a metropolis rich in cultural diversity, a testament to the harmonious blend of Malay, Chinese, and Indian traditions. For example, a mere nine miles north of the heart of the city, you can find a stunning collection of Hindu shrines nestled within the breathtaking limestone caverns.
First coming into the international spotlight in 1878, Batu Caves aren't merely a sacred spot for Hindu devotees; they've also become a hotspot for Instagram aficionados. The area boasts four principal attractions.
Keep in mind that both Cave Villa and Ramayana Cave request a modest fee of 15 Malaysian ringgit for admittance.
The Dark Cave, once a beacon for thrill-seekers, has sadly been shuttered since February 2019, with no specified date for reopening. The main draw, however, remains the Temple Cave. The cost of entry isn't in ringgit but rather in expended energy, as visitors have to make their way up a 400-foot ascent into these ancient limestone chambers, believed to be around 400 million years old.
In 2018, a dedicated team of twenty volunteers took three days to transform the cave's 272 steps into a vibrant spectacle, leaving many a visitor gazing in wonder. Inside, you can find two Hindu temples, splendidly decorated, looking almost minuscule against the backdrop of the towering 300-foot walls enclosing them.
Thaipusam and Lord Murugan
Each year, in either late January or early February, hundreds of thousands of Hindu worshippers flock to the caves to celebrate the Thaipusam festival.
During the festival, many devotees demonstrate their deep faith and control over their senses in various ways. This includes piercing their skin, tongue, or cheeks. They do this as an act of penance and to show their dedication to Lord Murugan, the Hindu god of war. And fittingly, there’s a towering 140-foot golden statue of Murugan situated at the entrance to the caves.
Where to Stay
The area surrounding the Batu Caves features a plethora of accommodation options to match every budget. Likes of Citadines Connect Georgetown Penang, of course, are a popular choice among those looking for Penang hotel apartments. You also have a number of homestays and other budget-friendly options.
What You Need to Know Before You Go
Regardless of whether it's the monsoon season, usually from March to April and then September to November, the afternoons are typically rainier than the mornings. Given that the city lies on the 8th degree of latitude, it can get quite humid. With so many steps to tackle at the caves, it's advisable to visit early, right when they open at about 7:30 am.
Reaching the caves is straightforward – they are only a 20-minute journey from the city centre. You can either grab a taxi or use the Grab app for a lift. It'll cost you around 18 ringgits, which is just over $4. Remember, if you wish to go inside any of the shrines, you'll need to take off your shoes.
If you decide to bring or buy food at the caves, be cautious. Troops of monkeys frequent the area, often looking for a snack, and they aren’t shy about nicking food from visitors.
Duration of Tour
Most visitors tend to spend under an hour here. It's an interesting spot, and there’s a lot to explore. If you are planning on feasting your eyes on stunning vistas and taking pictures, you might need a little more than an hour. But a little close to an hour should be more than enough to explore everything Batu Caves has to offer.