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Batu Caves: The Most Sacred Hindu Temple in Malaysia

The Batu Caves complex is one of Malaysia's most cherished historical religious attractions.

Even though the caves are located just 15 kilometers from the high-rise district of central Kuala Lumpur, the beautiful natural atmosphere and the site's cultural significance make it seem far from any skyscrapers or highways.

Entrance to the Batu Caves in Malaysia
Entrance to the Batu Caves

Dedicated to Lord Murugan, the Batu Caves are Malaysia's most sacred Hindu shrine and one of the most revered Hindu pilgrimage locations outside of India.

Climbing the steps to the top
Climbing the steps to the top

Though the steep climb to the top looks quite challenging from the ground, it wasn't all that difficult.

The 272 steps went pretty quickly, especially since I was peering up to the top with my eyes on the goal of reaching the summit the entire time.

I think it took me just 5 minutes, and though I was sweating, I was greeted by a cool breeze coming from the mouth of the cave.

Along the hike, you'll encounter some not-so-friendly monkeys that are cute to look at but have hearts of mischief. Bust out some food on the steps; you'll have to share!

Temple Cave
Temple Cave

The first cave you encounter is Temple Cave, a massive cathedral-looking open area with a ceiling over 100 meters in height.

The main path leads straight through this cave, passing several shrines on either side and reaching the next shorter flight of steps.

Batu Caves
Lord Murugan temple

After walking through Temple Cave and ascending the final flight of steps, you'll get to the Lord Murugan temple. This temple is minimal in design but intricately painted and decorated with bright colors.

See also: Natural Bridge Caverns in San Antonio

Hindu statues at the Batu Caves
Hindu statues at the Batu Caves

A big hole in the rock at the top of the cave allows natural light to illuminate the area.

Though most of the Batu Caves complex is dedicated to Hindu religious shrines, certain areas have recently been developed for sports, leisure, and tourism.

The Dark Cave, located below the main Temple Cave, is set aside for caving tours. Several unique animal species live within the cave, including rare spiders and fruit bats.

The dramatic limestone cliffs also make the Batu Caves a wonderful place to rock climb.

Away from the shrines, you'll find beautiful climbing routes along the cliff walls. Some routes are accessible with simple handholds, while others can be technical and include overhangs.

Along with rock climbing, a cliff in the area is also used as an official BASE jumping (free jumping with nothing but a parachute) launch pad.

Rewarding meal at the Batu Caves
Rewarding meal at the Batu Caves

At the base of the caves are a series of pure-vegetarian Indian restaurants. As soon as I arrived, I debated whether I should eat before climbing the steps or after.

Luckily, I chose the latter option to reward myself with a delicious Malaysian food meal after descending.

Served on a banana leaf, this Southern Indian-style meal consisted of rice, daal (lentils), a potato curry, some vegetables, and an awesome-tasting bitter gourd curry.

The great thing about these restaurants is that they will replenish your rice and curries until you're stuffed and satisfied. After two large helpings, I had happily replaced all my lost calories from the climb.

The Batu Caves, with their natural beauty and religious significance, shouldn't be missed when you visit Kuala Lumpur.

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Tuesday 26th of March 2013

Thank you for the photographs. I went there about 15 years ago, but I have since lost the photos, although I remember the monkeys very well. If they see the slightest sign of potential food they will surround you. When I was there they incouraged you to buy food for them. Does that still happen?

Roy Cavanagh

Monday 19th of November 2012

Good write-up, Mark. Batu Caves is on my radar for my next trip to Malaysia so very timely for me. I won't be doing any base-jumping if I do make it there, but I will be trying some of that food you featured!

Jade -

Monday 12th of November 2012

nom nom nom I love the Indian food in Malaysia. And the Batu caves are awesome - you can take a public bus there for next to no cost

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