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Batu Caves: An Easy Trip Outside Kuala Lumpur

June 21, 2012

Golden statue of Lord Murugan and stairs to Caves.

We used the morning hours of our second full day in Kuala Lumpur to visit the Batu Caves outside the city.  The area includes a series of caves containing several Hindu shrines.  An enormous golden statue of the Hindu god Murugan (also known as Skanda), to whom the entire site is dedicated, stands at the base of the stairway to the Caves.  He is apparently a relatively new addition and enhances the photogenic-ness (?) of the place à la my favorite golden statue at Emei Shan.  272 concrete steps (according to Lonely Planet) lead to the entrance.  I didn’t count because I was too focused on not being dive-bombed by a wily monkey at the time (more on that later).  Upon entering the caves you’ll see several small shrines dedicated to various Hindu deities, as well as a second staircase leading to an open-air cave inside of which the largest shrine sits.  Bats, birds, and monkeys pervade the entire area, though all seemed used to and disinterested in the tourists (aside from following you along the stairs’ railing and looking forebodingly down at you from above…maybe this was just my impression).

The Batu Caves are the key site in Malaysia for the Hindu festival Thaipusam, which is celebrated every year in January or February.  This is likely best known as the festival in which devotees pierce their flesh with spears and other metal objects.  Dave and Deb over at The Planet D have several excellent posts on these celebrations at the Batu Caves and in Penang.  During the festivities, pilgrims process to the Caves from Sri Mahamariamman in KL’s Chinatown (which I discussed here).  Though we were there in May rather than at festival time, there were a relatively large number of visitors and tourist groups.  We arrived just before lunch, and more crowds seemed to pour in as we were leaving.

Gained courage long enough to take a picture of this monkey.

The Caves are about eight miles outside of KL.  We took the train from KL Sentral Station (2RM/per person, one-way; the return was more costly for some reason–I believe 4 or 5RM/per person) to the Caves and would definitely recommend this option.  It was clean, efficient, and much cheaper than the reported 40RM cabs charge.  I also got to see my first ever women-only car, which I almost walked into (by mistake) leaving WWW behind on the platform.  We spent about an hour exploring the Caves and the area around the train station, which is about equal to the amount of time on the train.  All in all, this is a good two- or three-hour excursion outside KL.

Have you ever been to the Batu Caves or seen the Thaipusam festival in Malaysia or elsewhere?  Or, have you ever been stalked by monkeys?  What were your thoughts?  Leave a comment below.

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5 Comments leave one →
  1. June 21, 2012 4:51 pm

    I went back in 2010 with some other people from my hostel in KL, but unfortunately didn’t get to explore much as I had to return pretty soon after for my bus back to Singapore. I found the women’s only car pretty cool from a cultural/sociological aspect though.

    • Ashley Bruckbauer permalink*
      June 23, 2012 7:18 am

      Thanks for the comment, Edna. We were actually surprised by how little time it took us to work our way through the site.
      I had always heard about women-only cars from other travelers but hadn’t seen one until Malaysia. I threatened to use it if WWW gets on my nerves (or maybe he’ll be the one banishing me there?). 🙂

  2. TomaszB permalink
    June 22, 2012 10:59 pm

    I’m going to be there in about an hour 🙂

    • Ashley Bruckbauer permalink*
      June 23, 2012 7:20 am

      Thanks for the comment, Tomasz. Have fun!

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