Sunday, 30 November 2008

The Batu Caves: Malaysia

The Batu Caves are a Hindu Shrine just outside the city of Kuala Lumpur. The caves themselves have been there for close on 400 million years but only in the late 19th century were the shrines added.

The caves are instantly recognisable by the enormous golden statue which guards the foot of the stairway up to the caves. There are 272 steps (by my count) in total to reach the first cavern. On the way up you will be very unlucky if you do not see a monkey. They are quite playful with other and very fun to watch but you are advised not to get too close as they can bite. I did get quite snap happy around these little guys and have included my best picture on the post.

At the entrance you may find locals selling crafts and offering photo opportunities with reptiles which I thought was a little odd but I can also see how this would be a bit of a novelty to tourists. It was interesting to see how some local people have decided to try and cash in on a sacred shrine and that people still go to pray despite the camera flashes and added noise from tourists.

If you venture further into the caves you will see how it opens out and the ceiling gets higher. It is very dark and damp and has all the characteristics of any other cave until you move into the final chamber. Approaching the shrine itself is quite spectacular on a sunny day as the light beams down through the mossy vegetation which surrounds the open roof to the third chamber. You can look straight out to the sky above through the opening in the top of the chamber which is probably about 100 feet above. To be fair I was more impressed with the monkeys and the unusual cave than the shrines themselves as they do get rather overshadowed. It was also quite exciting not knowing what to expect when climbing the steps and entering this huge cave system. Regrettably, I have now spoiled this illusion for you.

I got there as part of a tour which included stops to a pewter factory and other historical places of interest but there are buses that go there from Kuala Lumpur itself. If you have not seen anything traditional, shrine-like or any monkeys then it is a good stop to make and tick a few boxes.



At 1 December 2008 at 10:32 , Blogger Saadia said...

Interesting place to visit. We stopped by on our way back from the Genting Highlands. But you missed two things:

i) There is always a snake-charmer around, to greet you once you've conquered the steep flight.

ii) Be prepared for the stink! The caves, they smell bad! :-)

At 1 December 2008 at 19:12 , Blogger Alex @ The Travel Blurb said...

It was interesting. I don't recall too bad a smell - but my nose has never been too good. It was probably all the monkey droppings.


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