The Great Cave – Batu Caves
The Batu Caves consist of three limestone caves formed about 400 million years ago. These are located about 100m above the ground and can only be reached by a staircase with 272 steps. The staircase would be repainted in 2018 with different shades of color.The largest of the caves is called Cathedral or Temple Cave.
The Batu Caves were probably also originally used as a refuge by the indigenous people of the region. However, the cave only acquired modern significance when it was officially registered by American naturalist William Hornaday and colonial authorities in 1878.
A few years later, the Indian trader Thamboosamy K. Pillai brought the first Hindu statues to the Batu Caves.
Which temple is in Batu Caves?
The temples of Batu Caves are dedicated to Murugan, the eldest son of the supreme Hindu god Shiva. Murungan’s victory over the demon Soorapada is depicted in numerous temples and representations. The 42.7 meter high golden statue in front of Batu Caves, unveiled in 2006, also depicts the Hindu deity Murugan. Legends now claim that Batu Cave is one of ten caves where the deity is said to have dwelled.
Besides Batu Cave, there are several other caves on site. To its left, the Ramayana Cave can be found. There is also a statue in front of it. The 15 meter high bust is dedicated to the god Hanuman.
Religious festivals and rites
At the beginning of the year in late January or early February, an important Hindu festival called Thaipusam is held at Batu Caves. In 2007, the festival was attended by 1.5 million devotees from all over the world.
The Batu Caves are a popular destination among tourists. Admission to the cave is free. Only for the parking lot fees are due if you come with your own vehicle.
As in all Buddhist temples, certain dress codes apply at Batu Cave. For both men and women, the knees must be covered, and for women, the shoulders must also be covered. The rules are not necessarily enforced consistently. Nevertheless, you may be asked to borrow a sarong at the entrance of the stairs. This costs 5 MYR rental fee. 2 MYR will be returned when you return the sarong.
The Dark Caves are a cave system about 2 km long next to (below) Batu Cave. They are considered a special biotope because there are some animals that exist only here in the world. Until now, visits there were possible with trained guides. However, since the beginning of 2019, the Dark Caves seem to be permanently closed.
The monkeys at Batu Caves
Around the Batu Caves and in the Batu Cave live numerous Javanese monkeys. These are relatively cheeky. They beg for food and also steal if you are not careful. Since the monkeys are used to people, they are only a little skittish and hardly aggressive, as long as you give them a little distance and do not touch them. It is also essential to refrain from feeding them. Equally unfavorable is it even in the proximity of the monkeys to eat or open food with itself to carry. Bags should in no case be given out of the hand, since monkeys also occasionally steal whole bags. The same applies, of course, to fanny packs, purses and eyeglass cases, which the curious animals might mistake for food and carry off.
Our impression of Batu Caves
We were a little disappointed by the Batu Caves. There is a relatively large amount of trash in the cave. The temples inside are comparatively small. The space next to it is concreted and there are somewhat uncharitable lamps and cables standing and hanging around. However, this may be due to the ongoing renovation work. The monkeys, the construction work and the souvenir stalls led us to the fact that the feeling of entering a spiritual place did not really want to arise. However, the countless monkeys jumping around everywhere, stealing things and partying are really funny.
- Gombak, 68100 Batu Caves, Selangor, Malaysia
- the KTM Komuter runs every hour to the Batu Caves stop.
- daily 6:30 am – 8:30 pm