Wikipedia says, ‘Batu Caves in short also referred as 10th Caves or Hill for Lord Muruga as there are 6 important holy shrines in India and 4 more in Malaysia. The 3 others in Malaysia are Kallumalai Temple in Ipoh, Tanneermalai Temple in Penang and Sannasimalai Temple in Melacca.’
|The 42.7 meter tall Murugan statue stands guard at the foot of the staircase leading up to the caves|
|The complex and the 272 steps that lead up to the caves|
|The monkey looks through the whole wallet before throwing it away|
Coming from India, where monkeys are found commonly – we often have them visiting the garden in my mother’s building – when I was told about the monkey menace in Batu Caves, I didn’t pay much heed to it. As I stood there watching that day’s drama play out in front of me, I clutched onto my bag with all the strength I could muster, secretly thanking my stars that it wasn’t my bag.
Finally the monkey flung the bag much to the lady’s delight at finding nothing of value in her handbag and went away. Almost everyone on the steps seemed to have breathed a collective sigh of relief and move on.
The climb was steep but not too arduous, and once at the top – the shrine well hidden into the depths of the cave known as Temple Cave was a fascinating sight. The largest of the caves, Temple Cave has a 100 feet high ceiling within which there are many small temples. The main temple which is situated right inside is dedicated to Lord Muruga. As we were visiting in the middle of the week and closer to noon, it was relatively empty and only a handful of devotees were offering prayers at the many shrines.
|A priest offers prayers at one of the shrines inside the cave|
During the annual Thaipusam festival thousands of devotees flock to Batu Caves. A human procession starts from the Sri Mahamariamman Temple in Kuala Lumpur and culminates at the caves, with the whole celebration lasting almost 8 hours. During the festival many devotees carry their offerings of milk on decorated ‘kavadis‘ – an object that has 2 semicircular pieces of wood or steel that are bent and attached to a frame that can be balanced on one’s shoulders. Many devotees choose to pierce their skin, cheeks and tongue with metal hooks and skewers attached to their kavadis. A visit during Thaipusam is definitely not for the faint hearted!
We ended our visit to the caves with a delicious South Indian breakfast at one of the many vegetarian restaurants found near the base of the caves.