Batu Caves - Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
When in KL, you can't say you haven't seen the Hindi temple in the Batu Caves. It's too big of an attraction which you simply can not miss. Not that the location is super spectacular (tho it is impressive and dark), it should be on your agenda when in Malaysia.
I was in KL for a long while, so I had plenty of time to check out all hotspots and touristic areas. The Batu Caves was one of the first I wanted to visit. Not because of the cultural and natural wonders, but I was in desperate need of fresh and cold air (read: smog and climate differences I needed to adjust to). Where else can you get that in Kuala Lumpur besides caves right!? So I grabbed 'a Grab' (Asian Uber) and was on my way.
On arrival at the caves, my Grab driver warned me for the monkeys. They are wild, brutal and have no fear. OK, so there are monkeys in caves here. And I was afraid of meeting snakes and scorpions... But he was right, there were a lot of monkey around, but on a distance. No threat at all.
The huge parking lot where a got out gave it away: this is a major touristic hotspot. Right in that moment it was almost empty (lucky me), but I think there's space for over 500 cars. It can get busy here. Maybe it was the time of the day (I was there in the late afternoon) or just not a very busy day in KL, I don't know, but it wasn't crowdy at all when I was there.
So, the Batu Caves. There I was, standing at the feet of a HUGE golden statue of Lord Murugan, the Indian God of Victory. You've probably seen it already in pictures, but when it's right in front of you, it's quiet impressive. Tourist as I was: taking pictures and move on. Since the statue wasn't where I came for. I wanted to go up!
Up indeed. Before you get to the caves and temples, you need to climb the enormous stairs. Don't forget three things:
1. Help the locals build the temples by taking a bucket of sand or bricks with you. I know it sounds like you're making a nice work-out out of it, but you really help them out. You'll score great karma points!
2. Make sure you're dressed properly: cover up your shoulders and knees. You can also rent a robe before you enter the stairs.
3. Don't eat on the stairs: monkeys are waiting for you and they're super fast!
During my climb up I had to stop every now and then (to take a picture, enjoy the view, catch my breath) and it caught my attention that there was so many trash on the stairs. I don't know if that was of one day, since I arrived late in the afternoon, but it was terrible to see what damage tourists can do to these fragile places. I know they pay to get in, and that a location like that doesn't survive without the tourists, but I expected a bit more respect to natures grounds. Sad!
Luckily I made it all the way (it wasn't that bad ;-)) and I could finally breath in fresh air and cool down. The view on KL is great and being right there felt good. I dropped of my bucket and went inside. It's HUGE. The statue downstair (42 meters high) was nothing compared to the cave. Tho the temples inside were small, not that colorful (yet) and therefor quiet disappointing. I might have expected something bigger, but that can also be just me. I have seen a few temples during my travels and those were way more impressive than the ones in the Batu Caves.
Fortunately the Batu Caves have their own specialty: the Dark Cave. Hoping I would end up in a Batman movie, I signed up for the tour in that particular cave. It took an extra RM35, but I was alright with that. The Dark Cave is hosting all kinds of snakes, spiders, scorpions, bats and other small ground animals. I wasn't allowed to use flash on my camera and since it was REALLY dark in there, there was no use of taking pictures. All we had was a little flashlight, which we weren't allowed to point up, so we wouldn't scare the bats. Only point down so you see where you walk and if there is a spider or scorpion in front of you...
But have no fear, the chance of meeting on of those creatures is pretty small. I didn't see any, only heard a bat here and there. Nothing much.
The tour is with a guide and in my case, super interesting. It's an exciting tour with a lot of information about why this cave is so special to mother earth. I can definitely recommend this tour! The statue, stairs and temples are not that spectacular at all if you've been in the Dark Cave. So if you go, please do pay a visit to the Dark Caves as well. It's worth it!