Batu Caves is essentially is a massive limestone hill; which contains a series of caves and cave temples throughout. The cave is one of the most popular Hindu shrines outside of India and it is dedicated to Murugan, a Hindu deity. How to visit the Batu Caves can be a little confusing though.
The cave is located about 8 miles north of Kuala Lumpur (KL), Malaysia and some 100 meters high. It also has 272 very steep concrete steps to conquer if you’d like to enter the caves. It is free to enter although by the time you get to the top, most people are pretty winded.
You also need to look out for monkeys all over the stairs because they will snatch your camera, hat, sunglasses or anything else they can get their little paws on. They remind me of the monkeys on the Rock of Gibraltar, the little thieves that they are!
The caves themselves are pretty impressive. Temple Cave, which is the main cave, has massive high vaulted ceilings that drip water from the top and have bats flying around. It also houses a few shrines and the aforementioned temple. There are also two other main caves and a few smaller ones as well. I only visited the three main caves but have heard the smaller ones can be interesting too.
But the main draw to the Batu Caves is the 43-meter high golden statue of Murugan. It is an awesome site and it’s the type of site you just can’t take your eyes off. The bright gold paint glistens and attracts you to it.
The statue itself is made of concrete, steel and some 300 liters of gold paint that was imported from Thailand. It, along with the caves themselves, is also the focal point of the festival of Thaipusam in Malaysia.
The statue is one of those things that looks really cool from a variety of angles. So walking around from side to side, away and close are fun to see and photograph. The long hair you see from behind is pretty cool as well. As you ascend the stairs, they curve, and the statue disappears so if you want to take pictures from behind, do it about half way up the stairs. I’m sure you won’t mind a breather.
At the base of the statue and stairs is a little area with some other temple shrines and also gift shops and other stores selling who knows what. There really aren’t any peddlers, which is nice and the only people that really harass you are the drivers hoping to take you back to Kuala Lumpur.
In order to get to and from the Batu Caves, you can take a taxi. You can easily get someone to bring you, wait around and bring you back to KL for about $15. You can also take the $1 train from KL Central Station that’s supposed to take about a half hour and runs allegedly every 15-30 minutes.
I’ll be honest; I took the train at first because I was staying right next to Central Station at the Le Meridien Hotel and the train got stuck between stations for an hour and ten minutes. The train conductor told us no information and it was really awful. Obviously that doesn’t always happen but it did happen to me.
So for my money, spend a little more and get a taxi. The KL mass transit system may look new but it doesn’t always function properly. Don’t even get me started on getting to and from the KL Airport; which is like 100 miles from the city!
Anyway, the Batu Caves are a great day trip or even just a few hours trip outside of KL. If you are passing time on a stopover, I definitely recommend having a look. It’s a cool spot and seeing the statue and stairs alone are worth the trip.