February 14, 2011

Batu Caves

The Batu Caves are a series of limestone caves and hills made into a very popular Hindu shrine. The caves are said to be over 400 million years old. Located just 8 miles north of Kuala Lumpur, The Batu Caves are one of the most popular Hindu shrines outside of India.
You can reach The Batu Caves on the Komuter Line from KL Sentral for about $1 and the trip takes around 30 minutes.
The shrine is dedicated to Lord Murugan, the patron deity of the Tamil land (the southernmost state in India). The Indian population in Malaysia is primarily Tamil, hence the popularity of this shrine. The 140 ft tall statue located right in front of the main cave is of Lord Murugan and is the largest one in the world.
Hindu worshipers and tourists alike climb up the 272 stairs behind Lord Murugan to reach the entrance of the breathtaking caves. Many people carry offerings up the stairs to the shines, like coconuts and milk.
While walking up the stairs it is very likely that you will come face to face with a group of Cyonomolgus Monkeys. They are notorious in South East Asia for being fearless of humans and stealing and snacking on people food. I witnessed a monkey open a water bottle, puncture a juice box and steal a bag of bananas out of a women's hand. This would not be our last encounter with these monkeys.
Walking around the streets that surround the caves makes you feel like you have been transported to India. Most everyone walking around and selling things are Tamil and all you hear is Tamil. There is Indian music blaring and all the Indian snack food you could dream of. I enjoyed the different flavor coconut squares the most.
The Batu Caves were beautiful and interesting. I had no idea how much exposure to Indian culture I would get by traveling to Malaysia. I really enjoyed spending time in all the Indian areas of Malaysia and I would love to make the next step and plan a trip to India in the future.

(Again these pictures are not my own (due to the explosion of my memory card). I would like to thank Quinn Hubertz, Joanna Cohen and Mo Gallagher for their photos!)

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