Batu Caves ~ Places to Visit in Kuala
Batu Caves is located 13
kilometres (8 mi) north of Kuala Lumpur. The cave Temple built within a
limestone hill, is one of the most popular
Dedicated to the deity Lord Murugan, whose giant statue adorns the site, it has grown to become an important devotional site and a sacred place for the Hindu's and the focal point of yearly Hindu festival of Thaipusam in Malaysia.
The limestone Hill is said to be around 400 million years old and its caves were used as shelters by the by early aboriginal people.
Taking its name from the Sungai Batu or Batu River, which flows past the hill, Batu Caves is said to have been discovered by K. Thamboosamy Pillai, an Indian trader in the 1800s.
Inspired by the 'vel'-shaped entrance of the main cave, Thamboosamy Pillai dedicated a temple within the Main Cave to Lord Muruga in 1890. Pillai, also founded the Sri Mahamariamman Temple, Kuala Lumpur.
Thus since 1892, the Thaipusam festival
in the Tamil month of Thai (which falls in late January/early February) has
been celebrated there.
The biggest, referred to as
Cathedral Cave or Temple Cave, is about 400 meters long and 100 meter high,
features the main Hindu shrines. Wooden steps up to the Temple Cave were
built in 1920 and have since been replaced by 272 concrete steps which
visitors climb to access the temple.
Visitors on reaching the cave area, will be awed by the sight of the 42.7m high gold coloured statue of Lord Murugan. Having taken 3 years to construct with the help of 15 Indian sculptors and at a cost of RM 2.5 million, it took 250 tonnes of steel, 1,550 cubic metres of concrete and 300 Litres of gold paint.
Unveiled in January 2006, it is the tallest Lord Muruga statue in the world and second tallest Hindu god statue in the world.
A little below the Temple Cave
is the Dark Cave, noted for its rock formations and a number of caves
creatures said to be found nowhere else. It is a two-kilometer network
of relatively untouched caverns.
At the base of the hill are two more cave temples, Art Gallery Cave and Museum Cave, both of which are full of Hindu statues and paintings. Many of the shrines relate the story of Lord Murugan's victory over the demon 'Soorapadam'.
The site is also well known for its numerous macaque monkeys, mostly craving to be fed. These monkeys may also pose a biting hazard and tourists (especially small children) are advised to be cautious. There are also numerous pigeons here. Tourists can buy feed from nearby vendors.
The three-day Thaipusam
festival which falls in late January/early February, begins with a chariot
procession in the early hours of the morning from Sri Mahamariaman Temple, at Jalan Tun H.S. Lee in Chinatown located within the city, and ending at Batu
They then walk from the river to the temple grounds and climb up the steps and make their way to the shrine at the Temple Cave.
Devotees carry offerings and kavadis to seek forgiveness for past deeds or to thank Lord Muruga for wishes granted.
These forms of offerings are overshadowed by more elaborate ones with huge metal frames and bedecked with decorations in the belief that the larger the kavadi the more resolute is ones devotion.
Skewers protruding through
cheeks and metal hooks and spikes are also to be seen. Many however bear a
simple pot of milk up to the shrine. It is not uncommon to see to even see
Chinese and others taking kavadis.
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