I had the good fortune of visiting The Batu Caves very recently. These caves are situated thirteen kilometers (seven miles) north of the Malaysian capital city of Kuala Lumpur. Batu Caves are caves in a limestone hill, which has a series of caves and cave temples, located in Gombak district. It takes its name from the Sungai Batu or Batu River, which flows past the hill. Batu Caves is also the name of the nearby village. The cave is one of the most popular Hindu shrines outside India, dedicated to Lord Murugan. It is the focal point of Hindu festival of Thaipusam in Malaysia. The golden statue of Lord Murugan which you see in the picture is 42 metres tall and is the focus point of the Batu Caves complex. The 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 (a tribe of Orang Asli).
The Batu Caves consist of three main caves and a number of smaller ones. The caves are made of limestone and are 400 meters long and 100 meter high. They were discovered in 1892. From our hotel in the Golden Triangle area of KL we reached the Batu Caves by bus in about 30 minutes. On arrival at the caves we were greeted by lots of monkeys. They were looking out for peanuts and bananas, which people buy in several shops and offer them to these simians, before climbing up to the caves. One has to climb 272 steps, which lead to the religious and magnificent Batu Caves. I preferred to admire the caves from below, from near the feet of Lord Murugan. 272 steep steps…It’s a good thing I remembered that discretion was the better part of valour, especially at my age ;-))
Once a year the Hindus here celebrate the Thaipusam festival in the Batu Caves. It's a celebration for the son of Shiva (Subramaniam) and the becoming "one" of Pusan and the Brihaspati stars. The Thaipusam festival. On Thaipusam, as many as 800,000 devotees and other visitors may throng the caves. As a form of penance or sacrifice, many of them carry kavadis (literally, "burden," such as a pitcher or jug). These are large, brightly decorated frameworks, usually combined with various metal hooks and skewers which are used to pierce the skin, cheeks and tongue. By doing this penance they naturally expect some favours from their Gods! The festival is held in the tenth month of the Hindu calendar (normally the at end of January).
If you go up the stairs, you can meet a lot of long tailed-macaque monkeys and if you have peanuts with you, they'll come to you. These monkeys love peanuts, but they love potato crisps too! They have a temper also. So be careful how you look at them!