While Kuala Lumpur in Malaysia is a modern city and home to big city lights and the Petronas Towers, it’s the Batu Caves and temples that give a feel of the true history and culture of this amazing country. The Batu Caves is a limestone hill made up of a series of caves and cave temples. It’s one of the most renowned, sacred Hindi shrines outside of India and is dedicated to Lord Murugan, the Hindu god of war and victory. Upon stepping off the train you are instantly greeted with a 154 foot high colossal statue that stands in his honour.
Despite the throngs of tourists, to be able to walk under the Malaysian sun and taking in the local hawkers is a welcome break from the city. The array of local hawkers at the foot of the temple is another experience not to be missed especially if you have never tried the juice from a freshly cut coconut. Watch as 4 solid hits of the machete against the coconuts shell cut it clean open – It was a sweet refreshing drink as the sun began to heat up.
The entire complex consists of three main caves, but you will also find a number of smaller ones as you go through the complex. There is so much to see and take in, but most tourists will head straight for the biggest temple – the Temple Cave. The trek to this cave is not the easiest… so prepare for a steep climb up a flight of 272 steps. The steps are bustling with pilgrims and tourists all excitedly trying to reach the top whilst at the same time trying to avoid the resident monkeys that are in abundance across the entire complex.
The monkeys have become so accustomed to the presence of people that they are not afraid to snatch water bottles straight from your hand. It is strongly advised to make sure your personal belongings are securely zipped away in a backpack/bag that is securely attached to your body at all times. Ladies taking your handbag may not be a good idea. I wouldn’t put anything down on the ground for even a second. Any loose/hanging objects need to be secured…these monkeys are sneaky and attracted to anything that is easy to pick up!
As you reach the top of the stairs you step into the cool damp cave entrance, the change in temperature is welcome change after the steep hike! You will be amazed by the high ceilings and ornate Hindu shrines that make this cave the most popular. The climb back down is equally as treacherous, with its steep stairs and again the monkeys and the endless crowds.
The caves were a good switch up to the fast paced city life of Kuala Lumpur. I would recommend taking on this challenge earlier during the day. There will still be the usual crowds, but the temperature in the morning makes it a little more bearable when trying to hike up the stairs.
So when is the best time to visit the Batu Caves? Well, Malaysia is hot all year round so you are unlikely to avoid the heat – November to January is the rainy season which may not be the best time depending on your travel style. If travelling from Australia there are excellent options of cheap flights, accommodation and group tours have become quite popular. Most travel insurance companies offer cover to Malaysia but it’s always worth investigating and comparing the options to find a provider that will give you the cover you need. Once in Kuala Lumpur, there is a KTL komuter train that will take you directly to the Batu Caves
Finally, when visiting this historical monument it is important to remember that whilst the Batu Caves serve as a tourist attraction, they are first and most importantly a religious site for the locals and should be treated with respect. There are often people worshipping or festivals taking place at any given time, so as tourists we should be respectful of the local culture.