Batu Cave, Hindu temple in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia

Just 13 km north of Kuala Lumpur lies one of the most popular Hindu temples outside of India; Batu cave.  A limestone cliff dating back 400 million years is the backdrop of this temple dedicated to Lord Murugan, the patron deity of the Tamil land.  The newly erected statue in front of the cave is in his likeness and is quite spectacular standing at 140 feet high.

I was only able to rally 1 of my children to join me for the day, a side effect of over doing the temple visits I suppose.  We decided that of all the options, (bus, taxi, tour, train) the train would be most enjoyable as well as the most cost effective.  One thing we have not found here in KL is a good way to scale back costs, so any place where we can, we do!

We went to the main station in Kuala Lumpur, KL Sentral.  The station was impressive, large, and very welcoming.  The woman at the ticket counter spoke English and happily pointed us in the right direction.  The train was just downstairs and the cost was 2RM per adult and 1RM per child.  So roughly $1 US for the journey out to the cave and another $1 back.  Not bad at all, but sometimes when traveling with all 5 family members we find that a taxi can be cheaper!  Since it was just 2 of us though the train was definitely cheapest.

Inside view of the train station
We waited just a few minutes on the well-marked platform and then boarded our train.  It was clean, sparsely populated, and to my son's delight had TV's where they ran Tom and Jerry, alternating with movie previews and snippets on how they built the Petronas Towers.  About 20 minutes later we arrived at the Batu Cave station and were pleasantly surprised that we were only a 2 minute walk to the foot of the stairs.

Along the way you pass numerous stands, some selling food, others offering Henna tattoos.  There are also numerous statues and temple monkeys to entertain.  At the foot of the 272 stairs stands the statue and a rather fabulous spot for photos to be taken.  There are many people trying to sell you a photo opportunity but simply ask anyone there and you'll find they are happy to oblige for free.

After exploring the stands, watching the evil little temple monkeys stealing whatever they could from anyone passing them by, observing the many different types of fellow tourists, and gathering some water, we ascended the stairs.  Built just next to the older wooden steps, these concrete stairs are plenty wide to handle the numerous people also climbing the steps every day.  We took breaks often on the way up, enjoying the beautiful views and laughing at the strange site of the chickens scratching around small patches of green along the sides of the steps.

Tip: Monkeys line the walkway all the way up so please hold onto your belongings and don't even consider carrying a plastic bag, because whether it contains food or not the monkeys will assume that it does and quickly grab it, rip it open and spew the contents all over the place.  You have been warned!!

They look sweet but just wait...
About 3/4 the way up there is the option to visit Dark cave, which cost a small fee to enter (the main cave is free to enter although donations are welcome).  Since we have been to many, many caves in the past few months we decided to skip this one although it is apparently quite beautiful and worthwhile to visit.

Continue on until you reach the top and there you are greeted with a spectacular cave.  Moist air fills the chamber (a welcome cooling effect to combat the heat of the climb), bats screech on the roof of the cave, and the beautiful Cathedral temple is adorned inside.  There is also a small set of stairs to climb to reach an opening in the cave where another temple sits.

Entrance to the main cave

Entrance to the inner chamber

On the way back down the stairs we witnessed more monkey thievery, a Malaysian movie being shot, and some unique statues that we hadn't noticed on the way up, possibly because we were huffing and puffing through the stairs!  At the bottom we stopped to speak with some of the vendors who told us movies are filmed there often, or at least some scenes were.  They went on to describe the Hindu festival Thaipusam, which is celebrated heavily at the cave in Jan/Feb, wish we could see that as it sounded amazing!  Everyone was extremely friendly.

Yeah, not sure but I am guessing it is just brimming with symbolism

On our way out we stopped for some beautiful Henna tattoos ($10 US for both of us), a small snack, and finally headed back to the train station where we purchased our return tickets.  My son remarked on the trip home that his brothers really missed out, "this was not like the normal temple experience....this one was really cool!"   So if an 8-year-old is any gauge, Batu cave is a must see as far as temples go!

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