Batu Travel Guide, Malaysia
Batu, Malaysia, is a small hamlet situated 13 km north of the Malaysian capital city, Kuala Lumpur, just outside the city limits. You would be able to take a taxi to visit Batu, famous for its caves and temple. Local buses are also available from the Pudu Raya Bus Terminal in Kuala Lumpur. According to the local records, the Batu caves were discovered in 1892 and a temple was built there. However, geologists are of the opinion that the caves were formed out of limestone outcrop nearly 400 million years ago.
Batu Caves - an overview
The world famous Batu caves are 3 major caves and several smaller ones. The main caves are the Temple Cave, otherwise known as Cathedral Cave, the Dark Cave, and the Gallery Cave. The Temple Cave is the largest and the best known of the 3. The ceiling of this cave is at an imposing height of 100 meters. Several holes in the ceiling allow daylight to illuminate this huge chamber. Ascending the cave is not easy, because 272 steps have to be climbed. High temperatures, heavy humidity and moisture, and several macaque monkeys make the ascent a real ordeal. This cave has got a temple termed as the Sri Subramania Swami Temple. A festival is celebrated in the temple on the day called Thaipusam, which occurs in latter half of January or first half of February. This festival is conducted for 3 days. On those days, nearly 80,000 people visit the cave and the temple. Many of them carry large frameworks called kavadis on their shoulders all the way from their homes. The kavadis weight between 100 and 150 pounds. These kavadis are offered to the Lord in the temple with devotion. Some of the kavadis are fitted with various types of sharp metal skewers, considered the weapon of the Lord.
The Dark Cave
The Dark Cave is the second in the series of Batu Caves. This cave is 2 km long and is home to a large number of common cave animals including bats. Many of the cave animals living here are not found anywhere else on the planet. According to an estimate, there are more than 200 species of cave animals here, majority of them being invertebrates. The cave contains 7 chambers that are filled with stalagmites, stalactites, cave pearls, flowstone, cave straws, columns, curtains, and other interesting features. These formations had developed over thousands of years. Permission from the Malaysian Nature Society has to be obtained to visit this cave. The society conducts 2 types of daily tours and advance booking is compulsory. The short tour is tougher, requiring good physical fitness and the wearing of mountain shoes. The longer tour, known as spelunking tour, involves changing shoes and clothes at the entrance.
The Gallery Cave
The Gallery Cave is situated at the foothills of the steps to the Temple Cave. This cave is really an art gallery, with wall paintings and statues of scenes from Hindu mythology. This cave is accessible through a concrete walkway that spans a small lake, presenting a scenic beauty that nobody would be able to miss or fail to appreciate. The main theme of the gallery is devoted to a poet of Tamil Nadu, Thiruvalluvar, believed to have lived about 2,000 years ago. His book, known as Thirukkural, contains 1,330 couplets of 7 words each. Each set of 10 couplets is on one particular subject related to human life and they are filled with unparalleled sagely wisdom. These couplets are etched on the cave walls. The cave is also called ‘Valluvar Kottam’ because of this main theme. Entry fee for the cave is about 1 RM.
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