Guide book on Batu Caves reveals secrets and mysteries of the cave


An entrance/exit to one of the many temples within Batu Caves. — JORGE LASCAR/Wikimedia Commons

Whenever most people talk about Batu Caves, it is almost always in reference to its famous Hindu temple, the 272 steps you’d need to climb to get to the main entrance of the cave, and the giant statue of Lord Murugan located at the foot of the hill.

But Batu Caves is definitely more than all that. It is also a natural wonder, a limestone tower karst with over 20 caves found within.

If you’re interested to know more about Batu Caves – which is located in the Gombak district of Selangor – you could always visit the place, but unfortunately, we can’t right now. So, the next best thing comes in the form of a book published by the Malaysian Cave and Karst Conservancy or MCKC.

Batu Caves: Malaysia’s Majestic Limestone Icon was released last year (first edition in March, second in July) and is essentially a guide book on the limestone hill for both locals and foreigners. It features lots of interesting facts on Batu Caves, some of which are famously known, and some, not so much.

For instance, did you know that there are 21 species of bats that have been recorded (up till 2019) to live within the hill’s various caves? A few of the species are also said to be extremely rare, like the Leschenault’s rousette (Rousettus leschanaulti).

Naturally, there are also many other insects and bugs living in the caves, as well as a snake called the cave racer (Elaphe taeniura). The cave racer is a non-poisonous snake which survives exclusively on bats. “An excellent wall climber, it hangs down from cave ceilings to snatch bats mid-flight”, is the description found in the book.

Apart from a great introduction on Batu Caves (which includes its many layers of history, the people involved in its early explorations, archaeological findings, and scientific data on the hill and its caves), the book also highlights the flora and fauna surrounding the area.

Of course, there’s also a chapter dedicated to the temples, and you can read about the history behind each of them. The temples are: Sri Subramaniam Swamy Temple, Vali Davayanai Temple, Ganesh Temple, Ayyappaswamy Temple and Jada Jothy Khotai Muniswarar Temple.

According to the book, a number of these temples are done in an “art gallery” style. When you do get to visit the place one day, head to the Cave Villa complex to visit the Small Dark Cave, which has exhibits that depict scenes from the Mahabharata and other Hindu scriptures.

There’s also the Lower Ganesh Cave, popularly known as the Ramayana Cave, that has elaborate dioramas of the Ramayana.

The sixth and final chapter in the book is perhaps the most important – Conservation And Management. In this chapter, read about what it takes to keep the hill and its surrounding areas safe from all harm, as well as the sustainable conservation efforts of activist groups, researchers, organisations and companies.

As Batu Caves is one of the country’s top tourist destinations, it also talks about what needs to be done to balance tourism and infrastructure development, with conservation efforts.

Best of all, some of the pictures in the book are simply magnificent, as they show you a side of Batu Caves rarely seen in commercial publications.

The book was the collaborative effort of a group of editors, writers, photographers and researchers, namely Ruth Kiew, Zubaid Akbar Mukhtar Ahmad, Ros Fatihah Muhammad, Surin Suksuwan, Nur Atiqah Abd Rahman, Lim Teck Wyn, and Dylan Jefri Ong. The MCKC was formed in 2015 to advance the research, management and conservation of caves and karst in Malaysia.

To know more about the book and where to buy it, get in touch with the group via their Facebook Page (Malaysian Cave and Karst Conservancy), Instagram (@malaysiancavekarst) or website (mckc.org.my).

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Batu Caves , guide book , cave , Hindu temple , Malaysia

   

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