The huge Batu Caves are the best well known attraction near Kuala Lumpur; just 13km north of the capital, a short distance off the Ipoh road. It is a MUST go tourist spot if you are staying in Kuala Lumpur for more than 2 days.
Once you arrive at Batu Caves, you will see a main square at which Indian vendors have put up their simple stalls. Take a moment at one of the stalls, and enjoy the distinctive Hindu nature of the surroundings, complete with small temples, colorful wooden carved figures and of course Hindu worshippers dressed in traditional sarongs.
Batu Caves is made up by three main caves and several small ones. The Temple Cave or Cathedral Cave is the best known and biggest of the Batu caves. To reach the temple cave, you must make your way up 272 rock stairs and through numerous macaque monkeys.
The ceiling of this cave is more than 100 m above ground and the area is illuminated by daylight through holes in the ceiling. Here you will see elaborately painted sculptures of various Hindu gods. Lord Subramaniam takes the centre stage as the fearsome Durga â€“ Shivaâ€™s female half â€“ are arranged to tell parables from the Bhagavad Gita and other Hindu scriptures.
Dark Cave which is below Temple Cave is not a show cave. This 2 km long cave contains a large number of endemic cave animals. To visit, permission from the Malaysian Nature Society is necessary, and they make two different spelunking tours, which are held daily after advance booking. The short tour requires good shoes and physical fitness. The long tour is a real spelunking tour and requires a change of clothes and shoes.
Visitors who want to take a look at paintings depicting scenes from Hindu lore and statues of deities can check out the Art Gallery Cave which is at the foot of the main staircase. Please note that a small entrance fee will be charged.
The main event at Batu caves every year is during Thaipusam (January â€“ Febuary), where up to 1 million people (devotees and tourists) visit the Batu caves during the three-day celebration. Many of the devotees carry kavadis, large frameworks with various metal skewers and hooks, which are used to pierce the skin, cheeks and tongue.
Thaipusam falls on the tenth month of the Tamil Hindu calendar, which is called Thai and the word Pusam refers to the star that is shining the brightest during that period. It commemorates the birthday of Lord Murugan (Subramania), the youngest son of Shiva and Parvati, a manifestation of beauty, youth, masculinity, valour and vitality. It also celebrates the victory between good and evil, Goddess Parvathi gave her son Murugan an invincible vel (lance), with which he vanquished the evil asura (demon) Soorapadman.
The procession of the jewelled chariot containing the statue of Lord Murugan would start early in the morning, as early as 4.00 am on the eve of Thaipusam. Devotees would walk from Sri Maha Mariamman Temple and throw coconuts on the ground beside the chariot (the walk take approximately 8 hours to reach Batu Caves). Penitents then atone for their sins and commemorate the giving of the vel by dragging kavadis (“burdens”) up the 272 steps to the cave and depositing them at the feet of the deity. Family and friends will guide the kavadi bearers up the 272 steps of Batu Caves to go to the Temple Cave, some using drum beats and flutes as a driving rhythm while others hear the shouts of â€˜vel, vel, vetri velâ€™.
Tip 1: Bring drinking water to Batu Caves, as the climb up the 272 stairs might be a challenge at hot weather.
Tip 2: Going to Batu Caves from KL – It is best to in the early morning, or after the peak city traffic in downtown traffic, when everyone is rushing to work. Traffic usually becomes less congested in KL city around 10am till noon.
Tip 3: For cheaper taxi fare to Batu Caves, take LRT to Putra Terminal, taxi from there cost from RM 6-8.
Tip 4: Arrange for your taxi driver to wait for you at Batu caves to bring you back to KL city, it will probably be cheaper than getting a taxi later.
Admission to batu Caves is Free.
Batu Caves is located in Gombak district, which is accessible through Jalan Kuching and Middle Ring Highway. From Golden Triangle you can reach the Batu Caves by taxi (Rm 20 – Rm 30) or public bus (11 and 11d). The public buses can be boarded at the Puduraya Bus Terminal. Bus Nr 70 and 349 are leaving from Lebuh Pudu in Chinatown every 30 minutes. Journey time around 45 minutes.
The easiest way to get to Batu Caves is to take the KTM commuter train from KL Sentral station to the Sentul Station.
During Thaipusam, there are many public buses that take you there from Puduraya and Kotaraya. Just look out for signs indicating Batu caves. The LRT and KTM also operates till late to accommodate passengers.