I knew there were stairs involved and caves, but I hadn’t realized there would be so much colour. I also knew that the Batu Caves play a significant role in Malaysian Thaipusam celebrations, which should have given me a clue.
At the bottom of the stairs is an enormous Lord Murugan statue; at his feet stands a proportionately large donation receptacle.
The main cave is reached by climbing up a candy-store-painted 272-step staircase.
The Batu Caves, about 30 minutes outside of Kuala Lumpur, are not a spelunker’s paradise. These are not dark, damp crevices that require headlamps and ropes. The cave (or perhaps we were in two adjoining caves) is enormous, lit by stadium-size floodlights, and contains full-size in-operation Hindu temples.
The cave walls open up to the sky and the jungle spills in.
Chickens and roosters squawk as they strut along the base of one wall. Monkeys entertain the crowds by aggressively stealing food, hurtling past the stunned onlookers and up the cliffs with their partners in crime giving chase. Sadly, the base of the cliff is strewn with garbage, probably dropped by the monkeys once they have extracted what they can.
The interior temples continue the colour scheme begun on the outside buildings and stairs. Fresh water-based paints are painstakingly applied annually to maintain the colours.
The top of the stairs offers a great view of Kuala Lumpur, a nice spot to drink it all in before carefully descending the stairs and returning to the colourful base.
- Entry to the caves is free, though there was a ticket stand inside, we think to climb up into the main temple.
- Though we wanted to use the transit system, we decided that the walks at either end, the connections, and the time involved didn’t make sense from where we were staying (The Robertson in Bukit Bintang). Instead, we took a Grab car each way: 19 RM ($6.33 CAD) to get there, 22 ($7.33 CAD) RM to return.