Going “Underground” in the Batu Caves of Malaysia

Going “Underground” in the Batu Caves of Malaysia

Brave the steps and step into the Batu Caves in Malaysia, where natural beauty meets cultural significance. This is a cave experience you don't want to miss!

Caves are mysterious, fascinating and fun adventures underground. My trip to the Batu Caves in Malaysia almost feels like a journey to another world. Just like in Jules Verne’s famous book Twenty Thousand Leagues under the Sea, the Batu Caves take the visitor on an eye-opening and humbling journey. Maybe Jules Verne was right? Maybe there is actually another world below ours? Though in the case of Batu Caves, you’ll actually go up to reach underground. More on this later!

A golden welcome

Image credit: Yeoh Thean Kheng

Located on the outskirts of Kuala Lumpur, the Batu Caves can easily be reached from KL Sentral by train. Arriving at the caves, it is hard to not be immediately impressed by the sight of a huge golden statue. At the height of more than 40 metres, it is the highest statue of Murugan, a Hindu deity.

Also Read: 10 Places to Visit on Your First Trip to Kuala Lumpur

Experts estimate the age of the caves to be around 400 million years. The entrance of the cave was used as a shelter by the indigenous Temuan people centuries ago. However, it was an Indian teacher who built a small religious site inside the caves and dedicated the temple to Lord Murugan.

Steps and more steps

The statue is already impressive, and the towering limestone formations behind it make you feel minuscule. Seeing the almost 300 steps leading up to the entrance of the cave, one may feel daunted. The climb up is steeper and longer than it initially appears – so do take your time, as these won’t be the last steps that you are climbing today.

Image credit: Marco Abis

On your way up, you will be followed and surrounded by cheeky monkeys, waiting for their opportunity to snatch some food from you. They might look cute (they really do), but beware of them, as you might lose your phone to a monkey. Arriving at the top of the stairs, you will suddenly realise how far above the statue you are and how wonderful the view has become.

Magical space

Image credit: Bernard Spragg, NZ

Although you just climbed more than 100 metres of stairs, walking into the cave evokes the feeling that you are actually underground. The vast open space inside the caves is truly fascinating. Even if there are a lot of people, with a ceiling of thorn-like limestone spikes some 40 metres above you, it won’t feel crowded.

Image credit: Phalinn Ooi

If you consider yourself to be a hobby geologist, you might not ever come out of the caves again. Walking around the caves, there is plenty to see, even though there is seemingly nothing to do. You will find a spot where there is a circular opening above you, letting you see the sky of Malaysia from inside the caves. If you ask me, this is the perfect spot to take a break, have a little lunch, and let the world pass by.

The walk inside the caves is rather comfortable; the concrete flooring allows you to forget the struggles of the steps you climbed before. But don’t forget that you still have to go back the same way you came. There is no other way out, nor an easy way out. Be careful when it is raining, the steps would be slippery and very dangerous. If there is a downpour, the authorities might actually close the entrance in order to prevent accidents.

Religious importance

Image credit: Alec Bowman

As mentioned above, there is a small Hindu temple inside the caves. You will encounter many religious people in Batu Caves not here particularly for the caves, but rather for this temple.

While most Hindu temples are huge and colourful, the religious site in the Batu Caves is rather modest. Within the caves, you will find a sub-cave called Ramayana Cave, which is situated all the way to the left. In that cave, you will find another statue, which portrays the Indian deity Hanuman – the Monkey god. Perhaps that explains all the monkeys hanging out on the steps of the cave.

As part of the yearly Thaipusam Hindu festival, the religious site inside the caves actually becomes the destination of Hindus from around the world. Should you be in Kuala Lumpur at the beginning of the year, you might want to head out to the Batu Caves to join the festivities.

Image credit: Nadi0

The journey through the Batu Caves will certainly be a fantastic experience. The temples and shrines magnified the beauty and significance of the limestone caves. It is definitely a place that I would highly recommend visiting if you are in Malaysia.

About Author

Peter Schimke
Peter Schimke

Peter is a freelance writer and author of the novel ‘Beyond Blue’. He has travelled extensively over the past decade and for some reason ends up where there are no tourists to be found. Cocktail bars, bookstores and skate parks are the places you might run into him. He currently calls Singapore his home, as he his banned from Shinjuku, Tokyo (after publishing his book).


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