The massive statue of Lord Subrahmanya can be seen from a distance as you approach Batu caves. The gold coated 140 feet high statue of Subrahmanya at the entrance of Batu caves is the tallest in the world. It looks magnificent and I found the Lord's serene expression a delight to capture. The place is quite a popular tourist attraction with many hotels and shops selling temple paraphernalia in the surroundings. Also freely flying around were numerous pigeons who were being fed by the visitors. All have to climb a steep flight of 272 steps to reach the entrance of the cave.
Batu caves are huge limestone hills with numerous caves and temples inside them. Dating to more than 400 million years, these caves had me spellbound and gawking at them in astonishment. Gasping for breath after that treacherous climb, I suddenly found myself transported to the neolithic age and had it not been for the people moving around, I would seriously have had myself lost in those beautiful caves. The huge stalactites inside those natural wonders is a treat for every archeologist. The sunlight seeping through the holes in the ceiling, water dripping down from the tip of the stalactites and the pungent smell took me back to the pages of my geography books.
The view from the entrance of the cave looks surreal with darkness engulfing the area and a beam of sunlight piercing down a huge opening. That was indeed a jaw dropping and eye popping scene, the ones that I have witnessed only in movies. The inside of the cave is bigger than a football ground with no lighting other than the ones near the temples. The place looks so divine with minimal sound and devotees lost in prayers. I was in time for the Abhishekam (ritual of pouring milk, water, turmeric paste etc over the deity) along with the huge crowd that had gathered to witness the same. It is a long procedure where the priest went about his duties and the devotees prayed, clicked photographs, gawked at the caves and fed a few monkeys which were littering around. The crowd was a mixture of local Tamilians, Indian travellers like me and then the amazed western backpackers.
A few steps further up from this temple took me to a higher platform which had a few more deities. However this place wasn't as dark as the earlier one as it was open to the sky and the only sound which had a high decibel was of the fluttering of the pigeons. Wet floors, dim lights and over grown flora made the ambiance so unearthly. I stood awestruck for a long time gaping at the natural wonder and pinching myself to make sure that I was still very much on planet earth.
This place becomes active during the annual Thaipusam festival which is held during January- February. Devotees smeared in ash, clad in yellow, carrying decorated carriers (Kaavadi) and with body piercing throng this Subrahmanya temple, making the festival a huge celebration every year.
Other than this main cave there are also a few more caves which you see see as you climb up those unending steps. The dark cave, Ramayana cave and museum cave are the famous ones. Dark cave allows visitors to go deep in and explore them with a guide. That should definitely be an adventurous experience. Bats, monkeys and other animals supposedly are still present deep inside the caves. There are also a few temples along with a huge Hanuman statue at the foot of the huge cave. Along with caving, these caves also offer numerous rock climbing routes.
Batu caves is a refreshing experience and no words or photos can describe what you will go through after climbing those numerous steep steps. If in Kuala Lumpur, please make sure to not miss this amazing limestone cave temple. Those steep steps might not be encouraging, but after conquering them, you would definitely say "It was worth the climb".
Signing Note: I wish I had lived in the age of Neanderthal people...!!