A visit to Batu Caves, Malaysia (aka the day I got punched by a monkey)

About a 45 minute train journey from Kuala Lumpur is the town of Batu, home to the Batu Caves. Have to admit I wasn’t even aware of them until Hannah International blogged about them, but they were immediately on our list of things to see whilst in Malaysia.

Train and Metro travel in KL was very straightforward, clean, reliable and cheap – we could probably learn something from them here in the UK! So we bought our tickets, hopped onboard, and headed off to Batu.

There’s no way to miss the site of the caves when you leave the train, because pretty much everyone is going the same way, and you can see them from the train station anyway.

The site comprises of 3 cave temples. We started in the Ramayana Cave, which was only consecrated as recently as November 2001. Passing a 50ft tall statue of Hanuham, inside the cave is very picturesque, with paintings and fairy lights that depict the story of Rama.

A short walk from the Ramayana cave is the main Temple Cave, which is one of the most popular Hindu shrines outside India. The limestone forming the caves is said to be around 400 million years old, but the main cave (the Temple Cave) has only been a dedicated temple and place of worship since 1890 when a consecrated statue of Sri Murugan Swarmi was erected. The current statue stands at 140ft high, and is the world’s tallest Murugan statue; costing 24 million rupees (approx. £300,000) and being made of 1550 cubic metres of concrete, 250 tonnes of steel bars and 300 litres of gold paint (thanks Wikipedia!)

There’s currently a lot of construction work happening, both in the prayer area outside of the cave, and in the cave itself, so there was a lot of scaffolding and abandoned piles of bricks (it would seem that the Malaysian approach to health and safety is very different to Western cultures!)

There are 272 steps up to the Temple Cave, and we felt every single one! There are macaque monkeys everywhere; climbing the vertical face of the limestone, climbing the stairs, and sitting on pillars almost like statues. They’re very tame and have obviously learnt to scavenge food from tourists over the years. They can be seen picking up empty food wrappers and eating from them, as well as accepting food from visitors.

Inside the first cave are Hindu shrines, and yet more steps leading through to the cathedral cave which has an opening to the sky. Inside is very damp and dank, again with questionable building work going on.

The trouble with 272 steps to the top is…you guessed it…the same amount to come back down. Ouch!

Batu Caves looking down

It was well worth the visit, obviously not from a religious point of view (for us) but the colours and the imagery and the natural caves were incredible.

So, now you’ve got this far, I suppose you want to know about the monkey incident I referred to in the post title? Go on then…

I was taking some pics of the macaque monkeys, which as I mentioned were very tame and seemingly fairly placid. So the husband asked if I wanted to be in a photograph with one of them. I thought it would make a fun pic if I leaned towards it, as if I was blowing it a kiss. Monkey had other ideas – he screeched and lashed out at me, properly boshed me one and scratched my cheek! Luckily for me (!!!) the husband managed to catch the aftermath on his camera. Thanks husband!

Batu Caves monkey punch

Look at the venom on that primates face!

You can read my previous Malaysia trip posts here, here, here, here, here and here.

Thanks, as always, for reading! x

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