‘On this day’, ‘Revisit this day’ and God knows how many more of these apps have made their way into our lives through social media. I agree we do need a reminder for some days but today – last year i.e. 29th August 2015 is one such day I would not forget even after 20 years. Last year same time I was marveling a huge statue of Lord Murugan, playing with tropical birds and experiencing the effect of standing under the tallest twin towers of the world. No brownie points for guessing, but last year same time was my first day in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. My very first FAM trip! So to mark this one year anniversary, my blog is all about the first place I visited in Malaysia.
Malaysia is well known around the world for its long labyrinth of limestone caves. One of the most prominent of the caves, Batu (Batu means rock) Caves, which gets its name from the Batu River that flows at the foot of the hills with the caves) is about 11 kilometers from Kuala Lumpur, in the Gombak Region, and this was our stop one in the Malay Land! These caves house the second most famous and most visited Hindu temple outside India, dedicated to Lord Murugan aka Kartikeya. And guess what, we visited this temple on the auspicious occasion of Ganesh Chaturthi.
The main temple at Batu Caves is said to be more than 100-year-old and the limestone formations are said to be around 400 million years old. But if the timeline fails to convince you to visit this place, the majestic 42 ft golden statue of Lord Murugan, which keeps you company till you climb the 272 steps to reach the main cave temple, would surely convince you.
Batu Caves are not only a major tourist attraction, very close to Kuala Lumpur, it is also one of the most sacred temples of South East Asia and sees a footfall of almost a one lakh piligrims during Thaipusam. Thaipusam is a festival that usually falls during the first week of January. During Thaipusam the procession of devotees with ‘Kavadis’ is said to be a vibrant spectacle, though not for the faint hearted as devotees walk up to the temple in a trance with needles and skewers pierced all over their body.
On regular days, if you are lucky and the caves are empty, you can explore this huge complex which has much more to offer. Other than the main temple, the cave chamber at the entrance has rock cut sculptures of different parts of Ramayana. Close by, there is another cave, also called the Dark Cave or Bat cave which is a much deeper and narrower cave chamber and you can explore it only with a local guide. Batu Caves are also a very well-known rock climbing site, so yes if you are an adventure junky you won’t be disappointed.
How to reach: - Batu Caves is easily reached by the Metro using the Batu Caves-Port Klang Route, costing RM 2 for a one-way journey from KL Sentral. Batu Caves or by bus 11/11d from Puduraya.
Note: - The site has a lot of long tailed macaques, so be vary of your personal belongings and avoid flash for photography. Also as it is a South Indian temple, appropriate dressing is a must. (Shorts and spaghetti tops are a total no no!)