30 January 2015

Meandering in Malaysia: Batu Caves

As I have mentioned in a previous post, while I had Myanmar as my main destination, for economic reasons, I opted to add some stops in other countries. So instead of flying directly from Berlin to Yangon, I opted to fly to Kuala Lumpur instead, as fares were cheaper that way, even if I factored in the extra flight connecting Kuala Lumpur and Yangon. And since I haven't been to Malaysia before, I opted to spend 3 nights in the city and check it out as well. I arrived on December 14 in the evening, and the next day, I set off to explore Batu Caves, easily reached by the commuter train from where I was staying.

Batu Caves is actually a limestone hill that contains a series of caves and temples that are sacred to the Hindu faith. It is located about 13 kilometers north of Kuala Lumpur. There are several caves in there that one can explore, and I myself checked out two of them. I began by entering the Ramayana Cave, which is found at the extreme left side of the hill, near the train station.

As you can see, the entrance is guarded by the statue of Lord Hanuman. There is an entrance fee to this cave of 2 MYR, if I remember correctly. The inside of the cave depicts the events in the epic Ramayana in chronological order, but then, I wandered around all over the place so I didn't really experience it chronologically.

There were statues, all depicting events from the Ramayana. There were statues of animals, gods, humans, and giants. I probably should read the Ramayana one of these days to figure out what actually happened in the story. Nevertheless, while the story was not so familiar to me, I still liked what I saw.

Beyond the Ramayana area, there are steps leading further up. I climbed those. Some devout Hindus that were visiting with me actually climbed the steps barefoot. At the very top, in the midst of rock formations, is a lingam, symbolizing Shiva.

After climbing down, I went to the main Temple Cave. This cave is the more famous one, which is guarded by Lord Murugan, depicted by a gigantic golden statue. Behind him are steps, 272 in total, which are steep, that one must climb in order to reach the Hindu shrines in the cave.

I suppose geologically, I found the Ramayana Cave more fascinating than the Temple Cave. But then again, I am not the person that is easily impressed by religious elements, hence I found the Ramayana Cave more interesting. Nevertheless, it was an interesting experience, since I haven't been to Hindu establishments that often. If you're in Kuala Lumpur, then this is an interesting place to visit before one splurges in shopping.

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