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Malaysia: Batu Caves

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Batu Caves | Malaysia | Asia

[Visited: August 1991, September 2013]

With vague memories of a previous visit to the caves in my mind, I was on the way to Batu Caves again. I was searching in my memory for the images; and thought it had required a long trip from the city to an isolated, tranquil place. Now, I was sitting on a modern train, and when we reached the last stop, we had arrived right at the entrance of the caves. The first thing I stumbled upon, was a tall, green statue of Hanuman, a noble monkey aide of Lord Rama. 15 metres tall, this statue had definitely not been there when I visited before. Behind it, I found a small temple, and what looked like a tunnel in the limestone cliffs. I walked to the main entrance, and the closer I got, the more I realized how crowded the place had become. There were plenty of people, shops, and restaurants, and I started to wonder what the caves would look like.

Picture of Batu Caves (Malaysia): Standing high above the ground, this golden statue of Lord Murugan is the tallest in the world

Towering some 45 metres above the ground, stands a golden statue of Lord Murugan, the deity to which the caves are dedicated. It is the tallest such statue in the world, and it made people look like ants. I walked past another temple, through the ornate entrance gate, and started climbing the red-and-white concrete stairs. There were plenty of macaque monkeys around, jumping and running with amazing agility, and on the hunt for snacks - there are even vendors for monkey-snacks, so they have reason to hope for results. They can be aggressive, too: I saw several people being attacked, making them scream and run. At the top of the numbered stairs (276 steps), more shops, and small shrines with brightly coloured decorations, before you enter an enormous cave.

Picture of Batu Caves (Malaysia):

There are plenty of doves around, flying through the caves, and after I heard one of their droppings land close to me, i was on my guard. In fact, Chinese settlers had mined the caves for guano long ago. Rays of sunlight were shining through openings in the ceiling high above; there was enough light to see yet more shrines. I walked to the far end, where I walked another, small, stair to the last cave in which the Temple of Lord Murugan is located. A rather small temple, dwarfed by the steep vertical limestone cliffs, and with the colourful decorative statues typical of Hindu temples. There were much less people around than I had anticipated, and I sat at the entrance of the temple to soak in the atmosphere.

Picture of Batu Caves (Malaysia): Close-up of a Hindu goddess at a shrine at Batu Caves
Picture of Batu Caves (Malaysia): Shiny golden shrines at the foot of Batu Caves
Picture of Batu Caves (Malaysia): Ganesh statues on top of a wall at the foot of Batu Caves
Picture of Batu Caves (Malaysia): Lord Murugan temple in the upper cave of the Batu cave complex
Picture of Batu Caves (Malaysia): The ceiling of the upper cave with the Temple of Lord Murugan
Picture of Batu Caves (Malaysia): Cow-man sculpted on one of the shrines at Batu Caves
Picture of Batu Caves (Malaysia): Macaque monkey on the lookout for food on the staircase leading to Batu Caves
Picture of Batu Caves (Malaysia): Part of the colourful statues on top of the entrance gate with the staircase behind
Picture of Batu Caves (Malaysia): Temple Cave, or Cathedral Cave, with various Hindu shrines
Picture of Batu Caves (Malaysia): Larger than life Hanuman statue in front of a small temple at the foot of the hill in which Batu Caves can be found
Picture of Batu Caves (Malaysia): Close-up of the sculptures at the top of a temple inside the main cave
Picture of Batu Caves (Malaysia): Colourful shrine on the face of the rock at the entrance to the Batu Caves
Picture of Batu Caves (Malaysia): Hindu priest with body paint on the stairs of the Batu Caves

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