You might have noticed the limestone hill with its series of caves and temples known as Batu Caves whenever you pass by Gombak, Selangor. But do you know its history?
A river, Sungai Batu, flows past the hill; this is why the place is called Batu Caves. There is also a nearby village with the same name.
The limestone hill is said to be around 400 million years old, and some of the cave entrances were shelters for orang asli in the past.
Batu Caves is the location of the famous Hindu temple dedicated to the deity Lord Murugan which attracts thousands of devotees as well as tourists every year. During major festivals, the place becomes amazingly lively and colourful with many devotees performing traditional rites like carrying the kavadi and milk jars during Thaipusam.
Why you should go
Batu Caves is an interesting place to visit where you can learn about local culture and Hindu traditions. The temple is located in the caves and to get there, you would need to walk up 272 steps! Now, that’s a good workout.
You can also get a nice view of the Kuala Lumpur skyline from the top of the steps.
For adventurous visitors, Batu Caves is the site for outdoor activities such as spelunking/caving, rockclimbing and abseiling, too.
What to do
There are four caves here that you can check out: Temple/Cathedral Cave, Dark Cave, Cave Villa and Ramayana Cave.
Temple/Cathedral Cave is the highest and probably the most well-known one. This is a high ceiling cave and houses the Sri Subramania Swamy Temple.
Incidentally, there is a 42m-tall gold statue of Lord Murugan standing at the entrance to Batu Caves.
There are no entry fees to the temple, but donations are accepted. If you dedide to climb up the steps to visit the temple, beware of the cheeky monkeys – don’t feed them.
Dark Cave is located halfway up the steps. This is the entrance to adventure caving and you need a guide to access it, so make sure you book ahead. You can take the educational tour to learn more about cave formations, as well as cave fauna like the trapdoor spider, bats and cockroaches. Helmets and headlamps are provided, and must be used.
If you prefer something more exciting, try the adventure tour which involves getting wet and muddy, climbing up rocky surfaces, and crawling and squeezing through narrow passageways. Although overalls are provided, you might not want to wear your best clothing for this. You can find out more about this tour at darkcavemalaysia.com.
Cave Villa is the easiest one to visit because it is at the base of the limestone hill. After walking across the bridge, there are show caves all lit up with coloured lights. There are statues and paintings of Hindu mythology characters and Indian poets. There are also many plaques with wise sayings. There is an entrance fee to access the Cave Villa.
Ramayana Cave is set next to the Hanuman Statue to the left of the limestone hill. It is decorated with scenes and statues from the Ramayana Hindu epic, and lit up with colourful lights. There is an entrance fee to the Ramayana Cave.
Who will like it
It goes without saying that Hindu devotees would enjoy a visit to Batu Caves.
Tourists should check out the place too, especially after the 272 steps were repainted recently into rainbow colours. Just do a search on Instagram and you will see many beautiful pictures depicting it.
Some hikers also like to do their “training” here, as preparation for climbing mountains like Mount Kinabalu, by going up and down the steps carrying loaded backpacks.
Located about 13km from Kuala Lumpur city, Batu Caves is fairly accessible. The GPS coordinates are: 3.237926, 101.684031.
There is ample parking space at the location. You can also take the KTM Komuter train from KL Sentral; stop at Batu Caves station and then just walk to the destination.