Malaysia, a fascinating country in Southeast Asia, known for its beautiful historical landmarks and rich cultural heritage, attracts many tourists. Travelers are mesmerized by this tropical island country for its remarkable cities, dense rainforests, gorgeous white sand beaches, picturesque islands, wild jungles, theme parks, adventure activities, shopping, and cuisine. Explore the tea plantations at Cameron Highlands or enjoy scuba diving at Redang Island. The Borneo Rainforests and the beaches of Langkawi make this country a favorite destination for families. Kuala Lumpur, the capital, has colonial buildings and architectural remains like Bukit Bintang, and the most popular attraction is the famous 451-meter-high Petronas Twin Towers.
Amongst all these attractions, the Batu Caves are considered special. The famous Hindu shrine, Batu Caves, located in the Selangor region of Malaysia attracts a large number of devotees. But before you plan a trip to Batu Caves, you must apply for a Malaysia tourist visa. You can either get the Malaysia visa electronically online with an ENTRI or apply for the visa at the Malaysian Embassy via the visa application centers.
The Batu Caves and Temple
Situated thirteen kilometers north of Kuala Lumpur stands a monument that seems to have been built by the gods themselves: The Batu Caves. It derives its name from Sungai Batu or Stone River that flows past the hill. The Batu Caves Temple, one of Kuala Lumpur’s most frequented tourist attractions, is a limestone hill comprising three main caves and several smaller ones. Cathedral Cave, the largest cave, houses several Hindu shrines under its hundred-meter high arched ceiling. There are two other caves temples at the foot of Batu Hill: the Art Gallery Cave and the Museum Cave, which house numerous Hindu statues and paintings. The golden-colored massive statue of Lord Murugan is located at the steps entrance and stands 140 feet (42.7m) tall and is the world’s tallest statue of Lord Murugan. It took three years to construct the Lord Murugan statue under the guidance of Thiruvarur Thiagarajan Sthabathy from Tamil Nadu. The statue was first unveiled in January 2006 during the Thaipusam festival.
History of Batu Caves
There are many myths about the Batu Caves history. With the limestone caves being said to be around four hundred million old, Batu Caves was known for providing shelters to the Temuan people, a tribe of Orang Asli. In 1860 Chinese settlers came to Malaysia for work. They made their living by extracting the guano, the excrement accumulated by bats living in the caves, to fertilize their farms. However, Batu Caves became famous in 1878 after being recorded for its limestone hills by an American naturalist William Hornaday. By 1891, the site saw a boom of visitors. Among them were the Indian merchant and temple founder K. Thamboosamy Pillai. He was motivated to build a temple within its caverns when he saw that the mouth of the cave resembled a’vel’ – the head of Lord Murugan’s celestial spear. In 1891, Thamboosamy, a descendant of Indian immigrants from Tamil Nadu, installed a deity of Lord Murugan in the four hundred feet high temple cave.
Different Sights and Attractions at Batu Caves
- In 1920, wooden steps were made for easy climbing of devotees to get to the Temple cave or Cathedral Cave that sits atop a mountain. With more devotees came more offerings, and the wooden steps were eventually reconstructed and replaced with the two hundred and seventy-two concrete steps of today. In 2018, the concrete steps that led to the temple got painted in various colors. It feels like you are ascending a rainbow into the chambers of Gods. The colorful Batu Caves steps instantly became viral on social media and are a spot for picture-worthy shots.
- The Ramayana Cave, another attraction at Batu Caves, has many statues of Hindu Gods that depict the story of Ramayana. The giant statues of Hanuman and Kumbhakarna leave every visitor spellbound.
- Explore the Dark Cave, which is home to the rarest spider species, the Trapdoor Spider. The dense population of bats, flatworms, cockroaches, rock formations, and potholes amidst rocks add up to the adventure quotient of the Dark Cave.
- Witness the exhibits at the Cave Villa, located at the foot of the Batu Caves. There are two caves: one cave has beautiful exhibits of paintings and poems of Hindu poets, and the other cave has exhibits of live reptiles like snakes enclosed in a glass tank.
Batu Caves Timings
Batu Caves opening hours are from 6 AM to 9 PM. The caves are open twenty-four hours on all days of the week. The timings of the Batu Caves Temple are the same as the opening hours of the caves. But it is better to visit this attraction before ten in the morning or after five in the evening.
Festivals Celebrated at Batu Caves
Batu Caves hold a special place among locals due to the annual Thaipusam festival, during the Tamil month of Thai, which falls in January or February. Thaipusam festival is celebrated in commemoration of the triumph of good over evil and attracts millions of devotees every year. This festivity is honored by Hindus from Malaysia and neighboring Singapore. Funfairs, lights, devotional songs, the crowd dressed in yellow clothes, and parades of colorful ‘kavadis’ dancing away like peacocks are some of the highlights of the festival.. Some devotees fulfill their vows by having their bodies pierced by Vels in different sizes. The entire area echoes with chanting of ‘Vel Vel’; ‘Vetri Vel; Vera Vel’; and ‘Arohara’ to get the blessings of Lord Murugan.
Batu Caves is a pivotal place of worship for many. Devotees from all over the world come every year for special vows and prayers. Remember to follow a dress code when visiting the Batu Caves, as short pants and skirts above the knees are not allowed inside the temple. Avoid carrying food as it could invite monkeys. This temple is a must-visit destination in Malaysia for its mesmerizing beauty and breathtaking nature.