An iconic and popular tourist attraction in Selangor, the Batu Caves are visited by religious pilgrims, cultural enthusiasts and, more recently, rock climbers interested in the more than 160 routes scattered around the side of the 400 million-year-old cave complex.
Taking its name from the Batu River, which flows past the massive limestone hill containing the series of caves and cave temples, the area’s most noteworthy feature is the large golden statue of a Hindu god at the entrance, besides which a steep climb up its steps offers stunning views of the skyline in the city center. Monkeys are said to frolic in the cave complex, and vendors sell bananas to tourists to facilitate their feeding.
With a history dating back to the end of the 19th century, the Batu Cave complex rises more than 300 feet above the ground. The temple complex consists of three main caves and a number of smaller ones. The biggest and most famous is referred to as Cathedral Cave or Temple Cave.
Considered the most popular Hindu shrine outside of India, the caves see the bulk of traffic during celebrations centered around the Hindu festival of Thaipusam in late January/early February. Processions begin in the early hours of the morning on Thaipusam, leading from the Sri Mahamariamman Temple in Kuala Lumpur up to the caves. Pilgrims carry containers of milk by hand or in huge decorated carriers known as “kavadi” as offerings to Lord Muruga. The celebrations and the caves alike are eye-opening phenomena attended by tens of thousands of spectators and devotees that should not be missed by visitors to Kuala Lumpur lucky or prescient enough to be in the region during the appropriate time of year.