Batu Caves Temple – Malaysia Most Sacred Hindu Temple
One of the most amazing attractions in Malaysia is Thaipusam, the Hindu festival of penance celebrated at the Batu Caves Temple – best known for the golden statue of Lord Murugan that stands majestically beside its entrance.
Where is Batu Caves Temple?
Batu Caves is a crop of a limestone hill in a small town on the outskirts of Kuala Lumpur. The name “Batu Caves” is taken from the name of the river, Sungai Batu which is the name of a nearby village.
The Batu Caves is located in the Gombak District; the caves are just 13km north of Kuala Lumpur.
Batu Caves is a Sacred Religious Site for the Hindus
These limestone caves harbor Hindu temples where dioramas of mythic scenes glow beneath stalactites. In the evenings, bats flutter in the shadows.
At the base of the Batu Caves is Sri Subramaniam Temple dedicated to Lord Murugan, the Hindu God of War.
Batu Caves is a Malaysian national treasure.
Batu Caves Temple Steps
There are 272-step vibrantly colored concrete stairs connecting the entrance to the Batu Caves temple complex. There are three larger caves and a few smaller caves that are opened to the public.
The biggest, the Cathedral Cave or Temple Cave is at the top and requires visitors to ascend the steep stairs to reach it.
Other attractions at Batu Caves include a guided educational tour to explore a two-kilometer long, untouched cave network. There are also multiple routes for rock climbing.
Batu Caves Temple is a renowned Hindu shrine outside India
The popularity of the attraction goes beyond Malaysia as Batu Caves is one of the most well-known Hindu shrines outside India.
Every year, tens of thousands of pilgrims and devotees from around the world throng Batu Caves to celebrate Thaipusam, a Hindu festival.
A tour to the magnificent Batu Caves Temple is one of the top tourist attractions for a day trip from Kuala Lumpur. Visitors are reminded that the Batu Caves is a sacred religious site for the Hindus.
Batu Caves History
The limestone caves at Batu Caves are as old as 400 million years.
Around 1860, Chinese settlers started harvesting accumulated Bat guano, or feces, from the cave to fertilize their crops.
The cave became popular as a go-to spot for British couples to have picnics after William Hornaday, an American biologist, documented it around 1878.
In 1890, K. Thamboosamy Pillai, an Indian trader, discerned that the main cave looked like a ‘Vēl’ a divine spear (scepter) associated with Murugan, a Hindu War God.
He then decided to turn the caves into a place of worship by dedicating a temple to Lord Murugan also known as Vēl Murugan (வேல் முருகன்).
Ever since 1891, Batu Caves Malaysia is the key location for Hindus to celebrate the Thaipusam festival.
Lord Murugan Statue (Tamil: முருகன் சிலை)
Lord Murugan Statue is the tallest statue of a Hindu deity in Malaysia. The golden statue is located at the Sri Murugan Perumal Kovil at the foot of Batu Caves.
The structure tallest statue in Malaysia at 42.7 meters (140 ft) in height, and it is the tallest Lord Murugan statue in the world.
This is the third tallest statue of a Hindu deity in the world, after Garuda Wisnu Kencana Statue in Indonesia and Kailashnath Mahadev Statue in Nepal.
Construction of the Lord Murugan Statue
Construction of the Lord Murugan Statue cost 2.5 million ringgit Malaysia. The construction required 350 tons of steel bars, 300l of gold paint, and 1,550 cubic meters of concrete.
The construction of the golden statue of Lord Murugan took 3 years, and the statue was unveiled on 29 January 2006 during the Thaipusam festival.
Fifteen skilled sculptors from India worked tirelessly to complete the construction.
Lord Murugan’s statue is positioned against the impressive limestone backdrop of Malaysia, the Batu Caves.
You’ll be awed by the height of the Lord Murugan Statue.
Key Attractions at Batu Caves Temple
The annual 3 Days Thaipusam festival is the key attraction held here at Batu Caves since 1892.
Thaipusam takes place around January of February.
On quiet days, few tourists are milling around. During the Thaipusam Festival, the huge space is filled with hundreds of thousands of worshippers taking part – and tens of thousands watching.
Cultural Shock: During the festivals, devotees and pilgrims carry shrines on their back and have their skin, mouth, and tongue with things like hooks, skewers, and spears. This act of penance is a devotion to Lord Murugan for prayers answered.
How Many Temples Are There At Batu Caves?
There are 4 main attractions at Batu Caves.
This limestone outcrop is riddled with caves. The main attractions are the Temple Cave (or Cathedral Cave), Dark Cave, Cave Villa, and Ramayana Cave
Temple Cave (or Cathedral Cave) Main Attraction
Batu Caves Temple Cave Entrance Fee: FREE
At the top of a steep flight of brightly colored staircase, you will reach a massive cave with a high vaulted ceiling.
The main Cave is known as the Temple Cave or Cathedral Cave and serves as a Hindu Temple devoted to Lord Murugan.
If you wish, you may leave a small donation in one of the collection boxes.
- Do hold on to the handrail securely as you climb the stairs.
- You may be surprised by troupes of greedy wild macaques wandering along the stairs.
- Better not feed the macaques.
- Do not have any food or plastic bag with you as the monkeys will harass you for food.
- The monkeys may bite if they perceive you as a threat.
Once you get to the top, the enormous main cave opens up. It is lit with floodlights and you can see the shadows of the magnificent rock crevices.
There’s a large hole above where the sun streams in and you may feel that you are inside a volcano looking toward the sky.
Dark Cave 2nd Attraction
Dark Cave Entrance Fee: Varies depends on the tour
Halfway up the flight of stairs is the entrance to the second main attraction, the Dark Cave. You won’t see any animals in the caves with the temples.
The Dark Cave is said to be home to the rarest spider in the world, the Trapdoor Spider. These large, hairy, harmless tropical spiders nest underground.
The Dark Cave is only open depending on the availability of a guide. You are not allowed to enter on your own for safety reasons.
Dark Cave Educational Guided Tour (45 minutes) – Entrance Fee: USD$8.30 Adult USD$6 Children
- Participants are provided with helmets and a headlamp.
- You can see impressive rock formations further down the darkened tunnel.
- Do stick to the pathways and avoid shining your lights directly at the bats.
- The guide will point out interesting rock formations and cave inhabitants.
- You may sight bats and a sea of cockroaches.
Cautionary Notes: If you have a fear of cockroaches, you may want to skip this cave.
Dark Cave Adventure Guided Tour (3 to 4 hours) – Entrance Fee: USD$8.30 Adult USD$6 Children
- Scale rock faces
- Squeeze through narrow potholes
- Getting wet
Cautionary Notes: booking is required. You can find more contact details on the Dark Cave official website. Part of the Dark Cave complex is off-limits and preserved as a conservation site.
Cave Villa 3rd Attraction
Batu Caves Cave Villa Entrance Fee: RM15 without MyKad, RM7 for MyKad Holders
The Cave Villa is at the foot of the limestone hill and can be reached via a bridge over a carp pool.
Inside the caves are brightly painted statues and paintings of Indian poets and characters from Hindu mythology. The caves are illuminated with colored lights.
There are glass display tanks full of snakes and other reptiles in one of the caves.
Batu Caves Ramayana Cave Entrance Fee: USD$1.20, MYR5.00
The 4th attraction at the Batu Caves is Ramayana Cave which is located on the left side as you are facing the hill. The interior of the Ramayana Cave decorated with statues and scenes from the Hindu epic, Ramayana.
The entrance is close to a 15-meter high green statue of Hanuman, the monkey god.
What Else Can You Do At the Batu Caves – Try Rock Climbing!
While most tourists only visit the caves, the limestone hills and crags in the surrounding area offer some of the best rock climbing in Southeast Asia.
Malaysia’s rock faces are often steep and the cliffs high. Most rock faces are almost impossible to scale to the heavy vegetation.
The dramatic limestone cliffs also make the Batu Caves a wonderful place to rock climb. This is easily accessible and has moderately challenging routes but offers several interesting routes.
You can find beautiful climbing routes along the cliff walls away from the shrines.
- Some routes are quite easy with simple handholds, while others can be technical and include overhangs.
- Around 170 bolted routes present great climbing challenges for sport climbers.
- The routes, rated from 5A to 8A+, have something to offer for climbers of all skill levels.
- For less technical climbers, there are many opportunities for hiking, scrambling, and bouldering in the area.
Along with rock climbing, there’s also a cliff in the area that’s used as an official BASE jumping (free jumping with nothing but a parachute) launchpad.
What is the interior of the Batu Caves like?
The wild caves are very muddy; bring a change of clothes if you plan to take any of the spelunking tours.
Best Times to Visit Batu Caves
The best times to visit Batu Caves are in the mornings and evenings as there is no shelter or shade from the sun as you climb the stairs.
- You may be surprised by the wild “crab-eating Macaque”, Cave Monkeys who love to wander along the stairs.
- Avoid visiting Batu Caves during the Thaipusam festivals if you are afraid of crowds.
- You will encounter hundreds of thousands of believers who will throng to the cave.
- As a sign of respect, do keep your volume down if there is a religious ceremony going on in the temples.
Cultural Shock: You will see Kavadi bearers who impale themselves with skewers and hooks as acts of penitence and devotion.
Should I take Join a Tour to visit Batu Caves Temple?
Numerous operators run half-day trips to the Batu Caves (USD$50)
If you prefer to go on your own pace, you can save lots by going on your own. You can take the public bus and have a vegetarian banana leaf rice for USD$5
Is the Batu Caves Disabled Friendly?
272-steps are leading up to the Batu Caves Main Temple area. This is not handicap-accessible. Senior travelers may have difficulty climbing up the stairs to the top as the steps are narrow and steep.
If you have a child’s stroller, you may be challenged to try to go to the top.
What to Eat at Batu Caves?
If you’re just visiting for a few hours, you can get some tasty snacks and Indian desserts, cut fruit or coconut.
There are a few vegetarian restaurants nearby the Hindu temple. A vegetarian banana leaf lunch with parboiled rice, a curry, veggie dishes and Papadom cost about USD$2.50
Fresh coconut is about USD$1.20 and chilled USD$1.40
Where do I Go for a Non-Vegetarian Meal?
You should make your way back to Kuala Lumpur for better quality food at lower prices. You could bring your drinking bottle to avoid buying bottled water.
Batu Caves Temple Dress Code
Batu Caves is a religious site, and the temple management enforces a dress code for visitors. Enforcement is stricter for women than for men. Please check with the outlet at the base of the stairs.
If you don’t meet the dress code, you can rent clothes from them for USD$1.25 (MYR5)
- Don’t wear singlet/ tank tops and flip flops.
- Dress code for men: T-shirt and shorts are fine, but shorts need to be below-knee.
- Dress code for women: No short skirts or short shorts and revealing clothing (hot pants).
Visitors in short dresses, short pants, and hot pants need to rent a scarf for USD$1.25 (MYR5) (RM3 with an additional RM2 as a refundable deposit) at the base of the stairs.
Where Can I Find Accommodation near Batu Caves?
For a good choice of hotels near Batu Caves with discount prices, visit Booking’s website.
Getting to the Batu Caves from Kuala Lumpur
The Batu Caves are located in the Gombak district, a northern suburb of Kuala Lumpur just eight miles from the city center.
Thaipusam in late January sees a marked increase in the buses and transportation options with more shuttles for the Batu Caves from Kuala Lumpur and back.
How Long to Spend at Batu Caves Temple?
The average time required to see the main area is about 2 hours.
Ways to Get to Batu Caves
You can use Kuala Lumpur’s transportation system to get to the Batu Caves by the following methods:
Travel by Train
Option 1: Take the KTM Komuter Sentul-Port Klang Line (red on transit maps) north to the newly opened Batu Caves Komuter station. Alternatively, you can also go from Sentul station if there is further construction on the line.
Option 2: Take the monorail north to the Chow Kit station. Take bus U6 to the caves and be sure to keep your ticket for the return journey (the bus tickets are valid all day).
Travel by Bus
Riding a bus to the Batu Caves in city traffic can take around 45 minutes. You can take a train to the north and transfer to bus or taxi for the remainder of the trip.
Alternatively, you can take bus #11 from the busy Bangkok Bank bus terminal on Jalan H.S. Lee near Chinatown to the caves.
Travel by Taxi
A taxi from the Golden Triangle in Kuala Lumpur will cost you around RM 25. For convenience, you could order a Grab Ride.
Batu Caves Temple Address: Batu Caves (Est. 1891)
Gombak, 68100 Batu Caves, Selangor
Batu Caves Hours: Open Daily 7.00 am to 8.30 pm