Batu Caves is home to one of the most popular Hindu temples outside of India itself. It is actually the name of a hill in Gombak, Selangor, about 13km outside of Kuala Lumpur.
One can classify Batu Caves into three different areas; the base of the hill, where the Cave Villa and numerous other shrines are, the Dark Cave, a conservation area, and the Cathedral Cave, which is the main focus of the annual Thaipusam celebrations.
The easiest way to get to Batu Caves is to take the KTM Port Klang Line to Batu Caves, which is the last station. From the station exit, it’s just a few steps to the temple grounds. On your entry, you’ll see a huge Hanuman statue, his heart opened to show Rama and Sita in his heart. Hanuman is a famous warrior from the Ramayana epic, and his statue here marks the entrance to the Ramayana Cave Suyambu Lingam.
Entrance to the cave is RM2 per person. The statues within depict scenes from the epic Ramayana. However, climb up the steep stairs (which will be a great warmup for your coming adventure), and you’ll soon come across the Swayambhu Lingam, a natural rock formation that is said to be a spontaneous manifestation of Shiva.
Your next stop would probably be the Cave Villa. It has an outdoor and indoor gallery that features interesting exhibits and monuments, as well as a bird sanctuary, a koi pond, a themed restaurant and a cultural stage. Entrance is RM15 but this writer did not go in as there were plenty of reptiles advertised.
As you approach the steps to the Cathedral Cave, you’ll notice the second-largest Hindu statue in the world. This 140 feet, gold statue was completed in 2006 and is actually Lord Murugan, the Hindu God of War. He is also the patron of Batu Caves.
There are three main stairways up to the Cathedral Cave. Of the three, the far right’s flight of stairs is the only one that does not have a connection to the Dark Cave, so if you intend to visit it before heading to the top, it’s best to stick to the ones on the left and centre. You’ll need to climb approximately 272 steps to reach the Cathedral Cave, and these are not easy steps. Take frequent breaks when you reach the landing and a moment to enjoy the view.
Once you reach the top, you’ll note that the Cathedral Cave is actually located towards the back of the chamber. Step carefully; as this is a limestone cave, there are still spots where the water drips after a downpour. However, what makes this place truly fascinating are the myriad formations in the cave roof.
After you’ve taken a breather, check out the Dark Cave on your way down. This Cave is a conservation site, home to the rarest spider in the world, the Trapdoor Spider. A quick tour lasting between 45-55 minutes will cost you RM35 (MyKad holders get a RM10 discount) for an adult, but if you want a more adventurous tour, you’ll need to make an appointment ahead of time. For more details check out: Dark Caves Malaysia
If you’re keen to explore Hindu mythology or caves, then Batu Caves is the perfect stop. Eat at the base of the hill at the many restaurants just before the Lord Murugan statue or have a light meal before you go; the monkeys may steal food and water right from your hands if they see you carrying bags or bottles.
Getting there: From KL Sentral, get on the KTM Komuter and take the Pelabuhan Klang Line to Batu Caves. The trip will take about 30 minutes and RM2 each way.