After a few days of catching up with friends and relaxing in Kuala Lumpur, we decided it was time for some sight-seeing on our own. It was a hot, sunny day as we ventured out to Batu Caves, about 13 km north of Kuala Lumpur. The caves were formed out of limestone hills and since then have been made into one of the most popular Hindu shrines outside of India. The large golden statue that stands 140 feet tall outside of the caves is a representation of the lord Murugan.
When we arrived, this golden statue was the first thing we saw. It was impressive not only because of its stature, but because of its intricacy in design. After snapping a selfie with him, we set out for the caves.
Outside of the caves people were milling about, some were buying offerings to offer in the temples, others were shopping. We noticed that many people had their heads painted. I’m not sure what the significance of this paint was. I heard several theories; one is that, like in Myanmar, they use it to keep them cool in the heat. Another is that it is a religious tradition. I don’t know if either of these is correct, but they both seemed logical enough to me.
Outside there were many Hindu representations- colorfully decorating the outside buildings. Some were even covered with gold.
When we passed through the ornately decorated entrance, I was asked to put on a sarong since I was wearing shorts. Most of the women we encountered inside the caves were also wearing one. We paid 10 ringgit for the rental and would receive 5 back upon its return.
Then we embarked on our steep climb up 272 stairs to reach the entrance to the caves. Along the way we saw a monkey, then another, then all of a sudden there were monkeys everywhere! This, to me, was not frightening so much as entertaining. I LOVE monkeys. I think they are so funny (and cute)! These particular ones were aggressive if you had food, but since we just had our water bottles carefully tucked away in our backpack, we seemed okay. Some people were feeding the monkeys, many were simply content just to sit back and eat some discarded or stolen food item, and others were carrying around small baby monkeys wrapped around their stomachs. We must have spent 20 minutes on the stairs, simply watching and enjoying the monkeys. We watched as one clever monkey sank his teeth into a water bottle and let the water drain out while he lapped up the puddle.
When we’d had enough of the monkeys, we continued on into the actual caves. Inside there were more Hindu scenes on display. It was much cooler inside than outside, and we were thankful for the reprieve from the hot sun. We wandered through the caves, taking our time to look at each display and be amazed at the size and stature of the caves themselves! Inside there were more steps as we went up one more level to yet another temple and some more displays. Here there were chickens running around.
After we had finished milling about, we headed back outside. But I wasn’t finished watching the monkeys! We wandered over to the Dark Caves and sat on the stairs watching these silly monkeys frolic about. When we’d finally had our fill, we walked back down the stairs, turned in the sarong, and headed out.
We lingered about outside the caves for a while, looking in and out of souvenir shops, and watching people feed and chase the pigeons away. We wandered down towards the subway and saw some more statues and decorations, as well as some natural beauty. By then we were hot and hungry so we decided to head back into KL to visit the Petronas Towers!
Read about this in my next post!