November 5th, 2014
The Batu Caves are a series of limestone caves just outside the city of Kuala Lumpur. The caves themselves have been there for close on 400 million years but since the late 19th century they have become the site of a Hindu shrine and temple.
The caves are instantly recognisable by the enormous golden statue which guards the foot of the stairway up to the caves. There are 272 steps (by my count) in total to reach the first cavern. As you ascend you will be very unlucky if you do not see a monkey. They are quite playful with other and very fun to watch but you are advised not to get too close as they can bite. I did get quite snap happy around these little guys. At the entrance to the first cave you may find locals selling crafts and offering photo opportunities with reptiles which I thought was a little odd but I can also see how this would be a bit of a novelty to tourists. It was interesting to see how some local people have decided to try and cash in on a sacred shrine while others still go to pray despite the camera flashes and added noise from tourists.
As you move into the first chamber you will see how the cave opens out and the ceiling gets higher. It is very dark and damp and has all the characteristics of any other cave until you move into the final chamber. Approaching the shrine itself is quite spectacular on a sunny day as the light beams down through the mossy vegetation which surrounds the open roof. You can look straight out to the sky above through the opening in the top of the chamber which is probably about 100 feet above.
In all honesty I was more impressed with the monkeys and the unusual cave than the shrines themselves as they do get rather overshadowed by everything go on and the scenery. It was also quite exciting not knowing what to expect when climbing the steps and entering this huge cave. Regrettably, I have now spoiled this illusion for you.
I got to this out of town location as part of a tour which included stops to a pewter factory and other historical places of interest but there are buses that go there from Kuala Lumpur itself. If you want to see something traditional, a shrine or even a monkey then the Batu Caves are a good place to visit.