Batu Caves is a limestone hill, which has a series of caves and cave temples. It takes it’s name from the Batu River, with flows past the hill. Batu Caves is also the name of the nearby village.
We woke up bright and early Friday morning. The sky looked clear and we felt excited about the day trip we had planned. The talkative Thumbee (mentioned in a previous blogpost) had told us that we should take a train to the Batu Caves. There were numerous tours available however they were pricey, so we took Thumbee’s advice and made our way to the subway. Traveling this way would only cost RM 2 for a one-way journey, and the tours were priced at about RM 90 per person.
From the subway we needed to change to get to the KTM Komuter.
We found a map and noticed that the Batu Caves were quite far away.
Subway chip (this reminds me of subway system in Daejeon, South Korea)
I don’t know why they make these, cards are way simpler and easier to hold while you travel.
We bought our tickets to Batu Caves (conveniently this is an actual stop name on the KTM), and made our way to the platform. Unfortanately, we didn’t realized that this train only comes once very hour, or so. The platform was underground and there was no ventilation down there. With each minute that passed, the platform filled more and more, so did the temperature.
There was a coach reserved “strictly for ladies”.
Apparently Malaysia launched these pink woman-only train coaches to prevent sexual harassment and to give Muslim women the option of traveling separately from men.
No boys allowed!
The train filled up fast but we managed to sit down after a few minutes because we were going so far along the train route. Along the way we noticed that sky was getting darker. It seemed that a huge storm was approaching.
Entrance to the Bata Caves
This area is well known for its numerous macaque monkeys, which visitors feed. I later found out that these monkeys may pose a biting hazard to tourists (especially small children) as they can be quite territorial.
The cave is one of the most popular Hindu shrines outside of India, dedicated to Lord Murugan. The huge gold statute that you see in the right of the above picture took three years to construct. It is the tallest Lord Muruga statute in the world.
Rising almost 100m above the ground, the Batu Caves complex consists of three main caves and a few smaller ones. The biggest, referred to as Cathedral Cave or Temple Cave, has a 100 m high ceiling and features ornate Hindu shrines. To reach it, we had to climb a steep flight of 272 steps.
Prior to 1920, these steps were wooden.
The cow in Hindu society is traditionally identified as a caretaker and a maternal figure, and Hindu society honors the cow as a symbol of unselfish giving.
As we reached the top of the stairs we heard thunder cracking in the distance.
We knew that rain was on the way.
Intricate Hindu stone carvings.
Cathedral Cave or Temple Cave
These limestone forming Batu Caves are said to be around 400 million years old. Some of the cave entrances were used as shelters by the indigenous Temuan people.
We were fortunate to come on a quiet day so there were no too many people in the caves.
We could walk around and explore without any hassles.
Many Indians, especially those who follow the Hindu religion, wear colored markings on their forehead or other parts of their bodies. It is believed that forehead markings identify a person’s third eye – the area in which people can see spiritual truths. These markings are usually red, white, or black dots or lines, which have social/ religious meanings.
Next to the temple (above), we saw a Hindu ritual being performed. We heard music and chanting so we made our want to the front of the temple to see what was happening. People were standing in single file, waiting for a line of white powder to be placed on their forehead.
Drizzle started to fall through this huge hole in the cave ceiling.
There were hundreds of bats flying around, but didn’t swoop too low.
The hole in the ceiling was so far up that it was partly dark in the column that stretched towards the sky.
There were a couple of souvenir stalls inside the caves.
The storm had moved directly over us and we were trapped inside the caves. Many people were gathering at the top of the stairs waiting for the rain to subside.
Rain was leaking through cracks in the cave ceiling.
I think that these are cubes of incense.
We saw a mother and son buy a couple of them, light them, and then place them on the burning-plate (below). They would bow their head, and say a prayer, for each one they placed in the flames.
We waited near the entrance to the caves for the rain to subside. While standing there, we met a great guy from Denmark. His name was Mike, and he sounded just like Sean Connery. We chatted to him for a while before deciding that we should make our way back down to train station to ensure that we didn’t miss the last train back to the city. Mike was traveling alone so we invited him to tag along with us for journey.
After watching this man with a baby strapped to his back make it down the stairs, despite the downpour, we decided to tough it out a climb down too.
There goes Mike…
And Justin… (drenched)
The ground was flooded at the base of the stairs so all the travelers with trainers/ closed shoes had to remove them to avoid getting soaked.
The water covered my toes in some areas.
The temple at the bottom of the stairs did not allow shoes, so seeing as we had already taken off ours, we take a sheltered short-cut through the area. We definitely got a few odd looks as we walked through.
These coconuts can be bought (already cut open) to feed to the monkeys.
Fortunately, we didn’t need to wait long for a train so we reached the city centre shortly after nightfall. Mike walked with us to Chinatown, and then we decided to all get dinner together. The smell of bacon was enough to drive us crazy. We were famished!
After being handed 4 different menus to look at we chose a restaurant to sit down at. They had a beer special and the guys felt like a couple cold ones.
Super hot chili sauce.
Chicken Satays with Peanut Sauce
Tom Yum Seafood Noodle Soup
Meat and vegetable fried rice
We enjoyed a great meal, and a few beers, with Mike.
Mike shared some interesting stories and asked us many questions about our travels. He was a pleasure to be around, and we are happy that the downpour resulted in us meeting at the caves. We would have like to have spent more time with him, however we had booked our trip to Taman Negara (the Malaysian jungle) for the following morning.
This was our last day in Kuala Lumpur…
Very exciting sights, animals, creepy crawling stories
and jungle adventures
coming in the next few blog posts…