Kuala Lumpur is the capital of Malaysia. Its modern skyline is dominated by the 451m-tall Petronas Twin Towers The city is also home to British colonial-era landmarks such as the Kuala Lumpur Railway Station and the Sultan Abdul Samad Building.
Batu Caves is an iconic and popular tourist attraction in Selangor. Site of a Hindu temple and shrine, Batu Caves attracts thousands of worshippers and tourists, especially during the annual Hindu festival, Thaipusam
ABOUT BATU CAVES
The Batu Caves are a series of caves among limestone hills in the district of Gombak, to the north of Kuala Lumpur, and they combine an interesting natural landscape with a major place of worship and some striking sights.
While the hills are considerable and quite scenic, what makes them special is that they’re home to one of the largest and most popular Hindu shrines in the world outside of India. But there wasn’t always a shrine in the caves, and for quite some time it was used by indigenous locals and Chinese settlers to collect bat guano. Things changed, however, when the American Naturalist William Hornaday made the caves known to the international community in 1878.
A little more than a decade later, they caught the attention of K. Thamboosamy Pillay, a leader of the Tamil Hindu community in Malaysia. In 1891, he had a shrine built to the Hindu god Lord Murugan within the largest of the caves, and the next year, the Hindu festival of Thaipusam was celebrated at the site. To this day pilgrims still come to the Batu Caves for the festival.
VISITING BATU CAVES
We initially caught the train to KL Sentral, the main terminus for trains in Kuala Lumpur, where we had to wait for the train out to Batu Caves. From here we caught another commuter train to the caves. It was only a 12km journey, but the train was slow.
It only takes a minute to get from the station to the entrance gate. The first thing we saw was an imposing 15m high statue of the monkey-God Hanuman, who has his hands to his chest and a very stern look. Below Hanuman was a group of tourists feeding the local macaque monkeys, which is never a good idea as they become pests when fed – but Lord Hanuman probably approves.
There are several temples around the Batu Caves area. One of these was the Kortumalai Ganesar Temple whose entrance was guarded by a large eagle.
Just by the entrance is another large colourful temple called the Sri Subramaniar Swamy Temple.
The entrance to the main cave often referred to as the Temple or Cathedral cave, is hard to miss as it is guarded by a 42-metre-tall gold statue of the Hindu God, Lord Murugan. Not surprisingly this is the largest statue of Lord Murugan in the world. The cave itself serves as a temple for the devotees of Murugan.
The limestone forming Batu Caves is said to be around 400 million years old. Some of the cave entrances were used as shelters by the indigenous Temuan people (a tribe of Orang Asli).
As early as 1860, Chinese settlers began excavating guano for fertilising their vegetable patches. However, they became famous only after the limestone hills were recorded by colonial authorities including Daly and Syers as well as American Naturalist, William Hornaday in 1878.
Batu Caves was promoted as a place of worship by K. Thamboosamy Pillai, an Indian Tamil trader. He was inspired by the vel-shaped entrance of the main cave and was inspired to dedicate a temple to Lord Murugan within the caves. In 1890, Pillai, who also founded the Sri Mahamariamman Temple, Kuala Lumpur, installed the murti (consecrated statue) of Sri Murugan Swami in what is today known as the Temple Cave. Since 1892, the Thaipusam festival in the Tamil month of Thai (which falls in late January/early February) has been celebrated there.
Originally, there were wooden stairs leading to the cave, that were put there in the 1920s, but they started to wear by the 1930s. A proposal was made to replace these, and work was completed by 1940.
It was these stairs that we were about to climb! There are four sets of stairs, and the two inner flights are painted brightly, in rainbow colours. Generally, these flights are not used. The two out flights are for day-to-day use. In total there are 272 steps to reach the cave – which are quite steep. We were not at peak fitness, so it was a bit of a haul to get to the top. A bigger issue for me was not the walking up it was the other tourists who were feeding and taunting the macaque monkeys who patrol these stairs looking for food. Some of the monkeys were getting aggressive but this seemed to egg the tourists on even more. I don’t think people realise how bad a monkey bite could be!
Anyway, we made it to the top. The entrance to the limestone cave is very impressive, and it is easy to see why those who originally found it would find it a spiritual inspiration. The entrance leads into the main chamber, which is massive. The ceiling of the cave has some holes through which light (and rain) passes, and if you are lucky, you will catch a shaft of light beaming onto the chamber floor. Inside the chamber is a large, brightly coloured temple decorated with peacocks – it is stunning. Also, around the cave, there are other shrines.
At the far end of the cave is another opening that is reached by a smaller flight of stairs. This takes you outside to a shaft where the roof collapsed to leave it open to the air. In this space, a second, smaller temple building has been built.
OTHER THINGS TO DO AT BATU CAVES
1. DARK CAVE
Around the midway point of the staircase to Temple Cave is the entrance to the Dark Cave. As its name suggests, the Dark Cave is not illuminated like the Temple Cave and is known for its wildlife, rock formations, and adventure activities.
To preserve the ecosystem of the cave, visits are limited to guided tours, with two different options available. The shorter, 45-minute tour takes you into the cave guided by headlamps to see rock formations, the resident bats, and maybe even a trapdoor spider. As for the longer tour, it offers the chance to go spelunking and squeeze through some of the cave’s narrower sections. The longer tour lasts several hours and is only available when booked in advance.
2. RAMAYANA CAVE
The most spectacularly embellished caves in Batu Caves, Ramayana Cave depicts the mythology of Ramayana. It is situated on the extreme end of the steep walls of the hill about 100 metres on the left while facing the hills and is colourfully lit on the inside , The statues are exquisite to look at as it narrates the love story of one of the greatest Hindu scripture.
There lies a 50 Feet tall, Hanuman Statue along with a dedicated Hanuman Temple , on the way to the Ramayana cave. There is a huge sleeping statue of Kumbhkaran (Ravan’s brother) inside the cave. Climbing the flight of stairs to the shrine takes one to the naturally occurring lingam which is a statue of Lord Shiva
There is, however, an entrance fee of about 5 MYR to explore the cave.
Planning your visit to Batu Caves
By train: KTM commuter trains are the easiest option for reaching the caves and depart regularly from Kuala Lumpur Sentral station to the Batu Caves station, taking 30 minutes. A one-way ticket costs RM2.60.
By bus: It’s also possible to use the city’s bus network to travel to the Batu Caves, although the train is a better, faster option. Take the 11/11D from the bus stop near Central Market or the U6 from Chow Kit to reach the caves.
By tour: If you prefer not to worry about transport and would like to be shown around the site, then a guided tour is the way to go. While more expensive than public transport, tours are still reasonably priced and often include other cultural attractions in the area.
By taxi: The quickest option for getting to the Batu Caves is by taxi. The caves are roughly a 15-minute drive from the city centre. Prices depend on whether you ask the driver to wait around for you but expect to pay up to RM40 one way.
OTHER USEFUL INFORMATION
Address: Batu Caves, Sri Subramaniam Temple, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
Telephone number: +603 2287 9422
Geographic coordinates: 3°14′14.64″N 101°41′2.06″E
Opening hours: Daily, 7 am to 8 pm
Distance from city centre: 13km north of Kuala Lumpur city.
Best time to visit: Arrive before 10 AM to avoid crowds.
Dress code: No short skirts or short shorts (hot pants).
Entry fee: The main temple complex is free, and Ramayana Cave and Cave Villa are RM5 for the locals, respectively.
The best time to visit Kuala Lumpur
Nestled in the geographical region of Southeast Asia, Kuala Lumpur, the thriving capital of Malaysia, is classified under the Köppen climate system as Tropical rainforest (Af). As the classification suggests, this vibrant city experiences high humidity, lofty temperatures, and significant rainfall throughout the year, illustrating a consistently tropical climate.
Kuala Lumpur records an average high temperature ranging from 30.6°C to 32.4°C, reflecting a minor fluctuation in temperature all year round. The least scorching period stretches from November to December while the peak temperature is observed from March to June. The relative offset of low temperature takes a minimal tumble from a high of 23.8°C to a low of 22.3°C, rarely straying too far from their comfort zone.
Moreover, Kuala Lumpur experiences humidity levels primarily within a narrow range of 73% to 82%. The city’s weather also displays a non-stop parade of clouds throughout the year, with an average monthly cloud cover ranging between 33% to 52%. Meanwhile, the average wind speed fluctuates moderately between a drop of 3.9km/h to a high of 4.8km/h. Atmospheric pressure is fairly consistent, indicated by a range from 1008.8 mb to 1010.5 mb.
The city witnesses a striking level of rainfall, varying extensively from 32mm to a considerable 109mm across different months. It is also notable that the city does not see any significant snowfall, except for a trivial amount in September.
The best time to visit Kuala Lumpur
Taking into account all climatic parameters, April to June stands out as the optimal period to schedule a visit to Kuala Lumpur. During these months, the city has the highest average temperature, coupled with substantial daylight hours averaging 12.3 hours allowing tourists ample time to explore the city and its exquisite architecture. Moreover, the sunshine hours range at about an admirable 8.5 to 8.8 hours. Even though there can be expected light showers, the city’s vibrant life does not reach a halt, maintaining a consistently warm and welcoming climate.
Where to stay?
1. MID-RANGE: CITIZENM BUKIT BINTANG
Sits on a superb location at Jalan Pudu in Kuala Lumpur. It is conveniently situated about 0.5km from the hub of the city centre and within walking distance to Petaling Street (Chinatown), popular shopping malls, business, food and entertainment district of Bukit Bintang. Sky Express Hotel offers impeccable service and all the essential amenities to invigorate travelers. The hotel provides tours, elevator, car park, Wi-Fi in public areas, restaurant to ensure our guests the greatest comfort. The ambiance of the hotel is reflected in every guestroom. ironing facilities, inhouse movies, complimentary bottled water, air conditioning, in room safe are just some of the facilities at your disposal. Sky Express Hotel is indeed your one-stop destination for quality hotel accommodation in the city.
2. LUXURY – ASCOTT STAR KLCC
Located in proximity to Klcc underground station, at a 300-metre distance, Ascott Star Klcc apartment offers an infinity pool, a sauna and a terrace. The venue is 250 metres from Kinokuniya Book Stores and not far from Petronas Twin Towers. The accommodation is 5 minutes’ walk from Jalan P Ramlee. The centre of Kuala Lumpur is merely 4 km away.
3. BUDGET: SUNSHINE BEDZ KL
The 2-star Sunshine Bedz Kuala Lumpur lies in the Bukit Bintang district, within 15 15-minute walk of Petronas Twin Towers. The hostel offers 24-hour security, housekeeping service and tour/ticket assistance as well as a nightclub and an aqua park.
Located in 5 minutes’ stroll of Bukit Bintang underground station, this Kuala Lumpur accommodation is set close to
Alor Street. It will take about 15 minutes to walk to KL Forest Eco Park. Serving different delicacies, Dining In The
Dark KL is situated 5 minutes by foot from the Kuala Lumpur hostel. KLCC Park is set only metres from Sunshine BedZ.
The hostel comprises 12 rooms. The shared bathrooms are equipped with a bidet, a separate toilet and a sink. A buffet breakfast is available daily at this Kuala Lumpur accommodation. It is provided with a microwave oven, an
electric kettle and fridges. The property is 35 km from Sultan Abdul Aziz Shah Airport and at 2.6 km distance from
train station Old Kuala Lumpur. The Kuala Lumpur property offers karaoke and live performances to entertain its