Friday, September 21, 2012

BATU CAVES: THE 272-STEP CHALLENGE

I was doing research on what to explore in Kuala Lumpur when I stumbled upon some information about a sacred place in Selangor called Batu Caves, which is 13km north of Kuala Lumpur, As I browsed through the pages, I learned that Batu Caves has three caves, which have temples and galleries: the Sri Mahamariamman Temple, the Art Gallery Cave and Museum Cave. Since I wanted to check on unique and culture-rich places in Kuala Lumpur, apart from shopping malls, historic landmarks, and modern infrastructures, I put Batu Caves in my itinerary.

I visited Batu Caves on the first day of my solo traveling challenge in Malaysia. I was (seriously) alone in my sojourn. In preparation, I had a good breakfast; I brought a small bag with my money, map, passport, water and baby wipes; and I loaded lots of courage and extra precautions as I embarked on the challenge.

Believe it or not, I just paid RM1.00 going to Batu Caves. I rode the Komuter Train, which is found in KL Sentral Station. On the side, based on what I read, you can also reach Batu Caves via bus11/11d from Bangkok Bank Terminus (Near Puduraya Terminus) or bus U6 from Titiwangsa.


I rode the Komuter Train in KL Sentral Station. As early as 9:00 (early na yan kasi super pagoda tragedy on the other day of my arrival), I was already in Bukit Bintang Train Station. As soon I reached KL Sentral, I bought the fabulously RM1.00 ticket to Batu Caves. Here’s interesting, Batu Caves is at the last station of the Komuter Train route so you won’t miss it; once the train stops at Batu Caves, that’s it.

At KL Sentral, I waited for the train in Platform 3. Don’t be afraid that you might miss the train. Clear signage will guide you through. Soon, I got in the train.
Platform 3

9:53 AM
Going to Batu Caves with the Komuter Train was a breeze as I was seated comfortably and train’s aircon’s bonggang bonggang ang lamig. With the 30 minutes travel time, I almost fell asleep. Iniwasan ko lang kasi baka pagising ko eh wala na akong gamit.
Inside the Komuter Train
I arrived in Batu Caves at past 10 in the morning. I walked fast with excitement as I was chasing time. In my mind, I still have the Hop on, Hop off adventure that I want to accomplish in the afternoon. Soon, I was walking in total amusement with the hills, tall statues and lots of shrines in Batu Caves.
The Komuter Train

Station

Batu Caves Stesen (Station)
Batu Caves is a sacred place of the Hindus in Malaysia. It houses the Sri Subremaniyar Swamy Temple, where the statue of Lord Murugan, a Hindu deity, is placed. It is also in Batu Caves that the annual Thaipusam festival is celebrated; it is a celebration for the son of Shiva (Subramniam) and the becoming “one” of Pusan and Brihaspati stars (Wikipedia).  Based on what I heard, thousands of Hindu devotees throng in Batu Caves for the Thaipusam Festival. The festival serves as a form of penance or sacrifice among Hindus, who carry kadavis (literally, ‘burden’ such as pitcher or jug) (Wikipedia). Additionally, the festival is held in the tenth month of the Hindu Calendar (mostly the end of January).

Based on what I read, historically, Batu Caves was promoted as a place of worship by K. Thamboosamy Pillai, an Indian trader. In 1890, Pillai, who also founded the Sri Mahamariamman Temple, Kuala Lumpur, installed the murti (consecrated statue) of Sri Subramania Swamy in what is today known as the Temple Cave. Since 1892, the Thaipusam festival in the Tamil month of Thai (which falls in late January/early February) has been celebrated there.

A big Hindu deity welcomed me at Batu Caves. It’s green in colour. And not far from it, I saw a temple. Actually before you walk around, you can already see the arch of Batu Caves, which pathway is connected to the train station. It’s adorned with intricate wall carvings.
Entrance


Giant Statue

Carvings

Shrines


As I walked more, I saw shops, which sell souvenirs and garlands. There’s also a henna art tent. And oh, some birds were caged in a big dome covered with a net.
Birds Cage




When I reached the temple, I was wowed with the line-up of cement carvings – in full colour and in plain stones. As I looked at the Hill, my eyes were also delighted with colourful shrines with even robust statues of Hindu Gods and goddesses. And finally, I saw the statue of Murugan, which stands at 42.7 m (140ft) high and dubbed as the world’s tallest statue of Murugan. According to wikipedia, the statue costs approximately 24 million rupees, and is made of 1550 cubic metres of concrete, 250 tonnes of steel bars and 300 litres of gold paint brought in from neighbouring Thailand. Since I was alone, I asked an Indian to have my picture taken. Kapalan ng mukha para may picture!


Apart from enjoying lots of photos of the statue of Murugan, I also loved seeing lots of pigeons. Feeling ko tuloy ay parang Italy lang or Paris ang peg. Meanwhile, the number of monkeys was not outnumbered at Batu Caves. Ang daming unggoy. Feeling ko tuloy, ibinalik ako sa Brunei!



Beside the statue, there’s the bonggang bonggang stairs. Honestly, when I saw the stairs, I got shocked and doubted if I can really climb it. Fortunately, upon seeing energetic and satisfied visitors coming up and down the stairs, I took the challenge. I eventually became confident dahil hindi ako hiningal sa pagakayat. Indeed, exercising everyday helped me a lot to accomplish the 272- step cave!

View from the Cave

Going up challenge!

As I climbed, in full action monkeys kept me distracted. More than enjoying to watch those monkeys, I felt afraid as they might jump on me. Plus, I heard that some monkeys grab your stuff. With this, I walked fast and hoped to complete the steps.

Surprisingly when I reached the top, I was surprised that it isn’t all. There’s another stairs going up, which goes to the main temple, which is already inside the cave. But what’s lovely, my eyes were delighted with the cave’s amazing and natural beauty. The stone formations, the statues, and the sunlight peeping through the caves’ hole piqued my interest on exploring Batu caves.


Pawis-pawisan!



Meanwhile, in Batu Caves, there were some shops that sell souvenirs to tourists. Most of the items are key chains, ref magnets, table statues, and wall decors of Lord Murugan’s replica.
Souvenir Shop
I was sweaty when I reached the top but I ignored it. There’s just so much to see in Batu Caves. See below images for your enjoyment.


Colourful shrine
intricate ceiling




I eventually went down the cave and opted to have my lunch in the Vegetarian Restaurant. But prior to eating, I came across the Cave Villa. Without hesitation, I paid RM15 and got in. Inside the Cave Villa, I saw lots (super dami!) of Traditional Hindu drawings and various types of reptiles.
A dark cave which I didn't explore.

On my way down the cave









Photo op with Reptiles

Cave of Reptiles

Green Snakes
 After 45 minutes, I exited from Cave Villa and went to have lunch. I ate in a nearby vegetarian restaurant. I had bread and some mee hon. Surprisingly, I enjoyed the (a bit) spicy mee hon, which is packed with veggies. The bread is also delish especially with the spicy kick made possible by some leaves and curry I guess.



Soon I left Batu Caves. I rode the Komuter Train. Yes, I paid RM1.00! Amazing!
Stesen Batu Caves

Inside the Train!

UP NEXT: HOP ON HOP OFF BUS: A TRAVELER’S BESTFRIEND IN KL!

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