Admire towering statues of Hindu gods before you climb the enormous staircase leading to temples and shrines inside these mystical caves.
The Batu Caves are inside a limestone formation that rises nearly 330 feet (100 meters) above ground. This significant Hindu religious site encompasses awe-inspiring statues and shrines, and hosts frequent celebrations and rituals. There are three main caves with several smaller ones in the vicinity. Some contain temples while others house painting and statue galleries.
The Batu Caves offer the chance to learn about the stories and deeds of the Hindu gods and culture. As you walk up to the caves you’ll notice a glittering 140-foot (42.7-meter) tall statue of Lord Murugan, the deity to which the caves are dedicated. It’s the largest Murugan statue in the world and is coated with more than 80 gallons (300 liters) of gold paint. Visit the Cave Villa to find artwork and shrines to other Hindu gods.
Take a deep breath before tackling the 272-step staircase up to Cathedral Cave. It’s a tough climb, as steps are steep and oddly spaced, but well worth the effort. Along the way, you may run across playful macaque monkeys. These locals are best to watch from a distance as they’re known to rummage through bags and can be aggressive. At the top of the staircase there is an enormous cave housing one of Malaysia’s best-known Hindu temples.
If you’re in Kuala Lumpur during January or February, check out the Thaipusam festival. During this colorful three-day event, more than a million Hindus flock to the caves to pay homage to Lord Murugan. Many pilgrims come with decorated pots of milk known as paal kudam while others show their devotion by piercing their skin with hooks attached to frames or “kavadis.” Visitors are welcome to watch or partake in the singing and dancing as the processions make their way to the statue of Lord Murugan.
Take the Dark Caves tour to see some of the smaller and less-visited caves in the complex. There is a fee for this tour.
The Batu Caves are in the Gombak district, about 8 miles (13 kilometers) from downtown Kuala Lumpur. The site is open daily, and gets busy on weekends and major religious holidays. The caves are easily accessible by public transport, and there’s no admission fee.