If you are in Kuala Lumpur on holiday or attending a conference, take the opportunity to visit Batu Caves. The uniqueness of the 400 million-year-old limestone cave and the largest Hindu temple in Malaysia makes Batu Caves one of the most popular day trips from Kuala Lumpur. This ancient limestone cave is about 15 km or 30 minutes drive from Kuala Lumpur, perfect for a short gateway exploring the city outskirt.
History of Batu Caves
Batu in Malaysian means a hard non-metallic object that comes from the earth. So we can conclude Batu gives meaning to rock or stone. But the name of Batu Caves is given in conjunction with the name of a tributary that flows across a limestone hill called Sungai Batu.
While this limestone cave is in its original state, the indigenous people from Temiar, Jakun, and Semai tribes use the caves as a resting place when they go hunting. However, after 1860, Chinese farmers began mining bird droppings found in limestone caves for fertilizer. As a result, this mining activity affects the structure of the caves. However, this mining activity was successfully stopped due to the intervention of the Malaysian Nature Society.
History of the Establishment of Hindu Temples in Batu Caves
The first Hindu temple in Batu Caves was founded by Mr. K. Tambusamy Pillay. He was a descendant of Indian immigrants who migrated to Malaya during British rule.
According to an unconfirmed folk story, one night, Mr. Tambusamy dreamed of being visited by Goddess Parvati. She ordered him to build a temple for his son Lord Murugan. As a pious person, he felt the request was an honor.
He wants the construction of this latest temple to be unique and special. So he and some friends visited several potential areas around Kuala Lumpur. After seeing some of the caves found here, he chose the main cave in Batu Caves.
Why are Batu Caves Perfect for Hindu Temple?
- The entrance to the main cave has a Vel like shape. Vel in Tamil means a spear that has been consecrated. It is used by Lord Muruga to fight evil spirits. This spear was gifted by his mother.
- The upper cave is located at the height of 120 meters from the street level suitable for glorifying the temple at the highest place. It is also a protected temple from floods.
- The size of the main cave, which has a height of 100 meters and a length of 250 meters, is suitable for any religious ceremony that can accommodate many visitors.
In 1888, En. Thambusamy installs a Murti of Lord Murugan’s in the main cave. In 1891, the first Thaipusam festival was held at Batu Caves.
Batu Caves Attractions
If you plan to make a Batu Caves tour, here are the main attractions in Batu Caves you need to look at.
Thaipusam festival is held every year in Batu Caves to commemorate the event where Parvati gave Lord Murugan the divine spear, or Vel, as a weapon to eliminate the evil demon Surapadman. On the night of the Thaipusam festival, the statue of Subramania Swamy will be paraded from Mahamariamman temple in Kuala Lumpur to Batu Caves. However, the most remarkable thing for tourists is seeing Hindus carrying Kavadi while mimicking the Peacock dance. So kindly check Malaysia’s public holiday calendar if you plan to visit Batu Caves during the Thaipusam festival.
Second Tallest Lord Murugan in The World
Standing at 140 feet or 42.7 meters, the second world’s tallest Lord Murugan Statue is the main attraction in Batu Caves. The idea to build the statue comes from Tan Sri Datuk R. Nadarajah, the Chairman of Sri Maha Mariamman Temple Dhevastanam. The cost of Murugan’s sculpture is around 2.5 million ringgit.
The statue used 350 tons of steel bar and 1550 cubic of concrete. It took about three years to build, using about 300-liter gold paint imported from Thailand. Furthermore, about 15 skilled sculptors from India were commissioned to build the tallest Murugan monument in the world at that time. Fully completed in January 2006, two weeks before Thaipusam Celebration.
The Biggest Donation Box in the World
Standing at a height of 2.5 meters and with a capacity to hold 10 adults, the pot-shaped donation box is the largest in the world. Introduced in 2018 to replace the old boxes found around the temple. If you are visiting Batu Caves, please give a small donation to the temple for them to upkeep the Batu Caves.
An artisan from India built an impressive Hanuman statue standing at 15 meters. The statue and temple were consecration in November 2001.
The first wooden staircase heading to the main caves was built in 1920. However, after 10 years of exposure to humidity and sun, the wooden steps start showing signs of wear and tear. So, in 1939, the temple management decided to build two flight concrete staircase heading to the upper cave. It was fully complete a few weeks before the Thaipusam celebration in 1940. Later the additional staircase flight was added to support prominent Hindu devotees visiting Batu Caves during the Thaipusam celebration.
In August 2018, another staircase flight was added. Today Batu Caves has 4 flights of stairs with 272 steps heading to the cathedral cave. In addition, the staircase was beautifully painted with different colors. Highly recommended that tourists take a photo on the steps before starting climbing. You will look sweaty and hagged after climbing the steps.
The main caves in the Batu Caves are about 250 meters long and 100 meters high. The 400 million caves are the house of a few Hindu temples and impressive Stalactites.
Gopuram is the Sanskrit word for temple portal. This portal bearing sculptures of deities representing the various aspect of Godhood, occurs at the front of the siarcase leading to the temple cave and dark cave.
In 2018, the temple management decided to paint all 21 temples and the stairs to the upper temple in Batu Caves with various eye-catching colors. This effort has successfully attracted local and worldwide tourists to visit Batu Caves. As a result, before the Covid 19 pandemic happened in 2020, an estimated 6000 foreign and local visitors visited Batu Caves every day, making Batu Caves the most visited Hindu temple in Malaysia.
Tips for Visiting Batu Caves
This section will explain the best way to do a Batu Caves tour to get the best tour experience, more value for your money and a productive trip.
Best Time To Visit Batu Caves
It entirely depends on what you plan to do in Batu Caves. For example, tourists can visit anytime during the operation if tourists just want to enjoy the view of the Caves and surrounding area. On the other hand, for a serious photographer or social media influencer, try to visit Batu Caves before 0900am or late afternoon after 5.00 pm because you will get good lighting for the photo.
Batu Caves Opening Hours
Batu Caves is open to the public from 0700am till 1700hours.
All female visitors are required to cover their legs until below the knee. Besides wearing long skirts or pants, tourists can use Pario or Sarung to cover their legs. It only applied to the female visitors.
Batu caves Entrance Ticket
Free parking fees are RM2.00 for the car.
How do you get to Batu Caves?
Tourist has a few ways to visit Batu Caves.
Combining a few activities together with Batu Caves tour is probably the best and most efficient way to visit Batu Caves because tourists will get an explanation about the caves. If tourists plan to do a combination tour, hire a private tour guide.
Example of Combination Tour
- Watching Fireflies in Kuala Selangor combined with Batu Caves visit
- Kuala Gandah Elephant tour with a stopover at Batu Caves
- Kuala Lumpur City Tour combined with Batu Caves
The cheapest way to visit Batu Caves. Get KTM komuter from KL Sentral Station or Putra Station to Batu Caves Station. One way fare RM2.30. Perfect for shoestring tourists. Downside using KTM commuter, overcrowded train, and unreliable schedule.
Hired a Taxi for the return trip. Perfect for small groups and tourists with Children. Taxi fares are around RM120 – RM150 depending on Taxi type.
Another cheapest mode of a tour to Batu Caves. One-way fare from Kuala Lumpur to Batu Caves during peak hours is approximately RM35 – RM50. The main disadvantage of using an E-hailing service, hard to book any car from Batu Caves back to Kuala Lumpur during rush hour or bad weather. Tourists need to download the apps and provide personal information.
Visit Batu Caves FAQ
How many steps are Batu Caves?
There is a 272 staircase heading to the upper caves.
Are the Batu Caves worth visiting?
Yes, Batu Caves is one of the main places to visit in Malaysia Tourists should visit.
Who built Batu Caves?
The temple in Batu Caves was established by Mr. k Thamboosamy Pillai
In short, Batu Caves is a must-visit place if tourists visit Malaysia. The short travel distance from Kuala Lumpur and the uniqueness of the limestone caves make Batu Caves a tourist destination suitable for all ages.