The Fascinating Batu Caves in Malaysia
Located by the Batu River some 8 miles north of Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, the beautiful Batu Caves represent one of the most popular Hindu places of worship outside India. It is a complex of caves shaped into a 400 million years old limestone hill.
The first recorded excavations at the site were performed by Chinese settlers around 1860, who extracted guano to used it as fertilizer in their agricultural activities. However, the caves only started to become famous later, after colonists recorded them. Today they are most famous for their religious significance, even though this is not the only reason tourists come to the site.
Rock climbing enthusiasts can find 160 different routes here, Batu caves being the Malaysian center of the activity. There is also a diverse fauna in the area, and visitors are always on the look for macaque monkeys, who often steal food from them, and sometimes become quite territorial, representing a biting hazard, especially for kids. The caves also hold fruit bats and Liphistiidae spiders among other creatures.
The most significant attraction though, remains the Temple (or Cathedral) Cave, which has soaring ceilings and which holds several Hindu shrines. It is located about 328 feet above the ground and it can only be reached by climbing 272 concrete steps. The cave was dedicated to Lord Murugan (the Hindu god of war and victory) by an Indian trader named K. Thamboosamy Pillay, who was inspired by the spear-shaped entrance.
The Batu Caves is the place where the world’s largest sculpture of Lord Murugan can be seen. Measuring 140 feet, it was brought here in 2006. Two more remarkable caves can be admired at the hill base: they are called Museum Cave and Art Gallery Cave. They are both filled with beautiful paintings and statues that speak of the rich Hindu culture. A visit here is always rewarding on many levels.