It was a steamy morning in Kuala Lumpur when we jumped into a taxi and headed 13km out of town to Batu Caves. Despite being early, the place was already buzzing with activity when we arrived. There were a few other tourists around, but we were overwhelmingly outnumbered by those making a spiritual visit, rather than a sightseeing one. Batu Caves are home to a Hindu temple and shrines, and Indian Malaysians crowded the entrance and the pathway leading towards the 272 stairs, which ascend to the caves. The women were bright in coloured saris and gold jewellery, which jangled as they walked alongside us. Men and boys were decked in silk, rivalling the women in their primary colours.
Muruga, Lord Subramaniam, stood guard in massive golden form beside the stairs, as the limestone mountain cast a cooling shadow over the entrance and the imposing stairway.
Phoebe and Blake were excited to climb. We were lucky it was first thing in the morning, and while it was warm, the day was yet to reach its mid-thirties peak. The kids had fresh legs and wanted to show us they could get to the top. We passed Indian grandmothers, and women with babies, while being passed ourselves by racing boys, taking the steep steps two by two. Cheeky macaques leaned over the railing now and then, on the lookout for snacks, but we made sure our morning tea was safely zipped in the backpack… although this one had managed to score a bite to eat from someone:
We reached the top, amazingly without much complaining!
Phoebs and Blakey soon became a tourist attraction themselves. iPads and iPhones, in the hands of sari-clad women and teenaged girls, clicked away as we made our way inside the cave. Phoebe and Blake hid behind our legs, not sure what all the fuss was about. You can’t see them in this pic, as they’re surrounded by Apple-sponsored photographers.
The massive Temple cavern, with its network of ancient stalactites, was lit by powerful yellow lamps, and filled with shrines – some big, some small – crowded with colourful statues of Hindu gods.
Blake was keen to capture the scene. Here’s one of his shots. He does like an artistic angle.
The Temple Cave opened up to the sky at the end of the imposing cavern, and lush greenery spilled in from above. It was clear why the cave was chosen as a place of worship.
I just wanted to watch the people, who were so welcoming of us, strangers in their sacred place.
We posed for a few more pictures, then began the descent. The stairs looked even steeper looking down from the top.
Here’s Blake, still smiling on the way down.
It turns out that there was a special event on, with some celebrities visiting, which was why the caves were so busy. On our way out, people lined the streets waiting for the arrival of the special guests, wearing their best outfits, and white baseball caps, which seemed out of place amid the traditional clothing. But, hey, sunsmart is sunsmart.
Flower garland stalls were prolific in the streets surrounding the caves. After the paparazzi frenzy in the caves, Phoebe was in a “never take a photo of me ever, ever again!” kind of mood, so Blake kindly posed for me. I think I might have promised him an ice cream.
We had a bit of a lark in the train on the way back to KL, too. The sign said:
It was tough, but Steve and I managed to avoid going for a pash. Luckily there was no sign that said, “No crazy malarkey”.
When I asked the kids about what they liked best after our visit, Phoebe said she liked the saris, and I have to admit, they were impressive. Blake’s answer was, “the little gnomes inside the cave, and the big golden gnome outside.” Bless. His cultural education continues…
I’m linking up with Budget Travelers Sandbox again today for Travel Photo Thursday. Check it out!
18 thoughts on “Gnomes and Saris: Batu Caves Malaysia”
What an amazing adventure! I’m with Phoebs…the saris are to die for! And the monkeys. 🙂 I’m so loving your blogging.
Thanks Rachie! The saris were just gorgeous. Phoebs was mesmerised. She is attracted to sparkles – must take after her Auntie Rach!! 🙂
That comment about the gnomes really had me laughing! Your kids are troopers to make it to the top without complaining, and it looks like everyone thought it was well worth the effort.
Lucky it was only in the first couple of days of our travels. The complaining has increased, but they are doing great for four-year-olds!! Haha. Looking for time to pop on over to your blog Michele! Will get there eventually. 🙂
Gosh those stairs are steep when viewed from the top. The caves are so spacious and the sky opening in the cave is great. We very nearly stopped over in K.L. on one of my travel plans (that did not come to fruition) and I had researched this cave to visit. Thanks for sharing the photos. Thank goodness you resisted the urge for a pash on the train 🙂
Haha, yeah, not pashing was tough, but we didn’t want to break the train laws 😉 You don’t notice quite how steep the stairs are at Batu until you look down! So true. Thanks for stopping by Jan!
Wow, impressive – the stairs, the cave, the saris, everything.
Did you find out who everyone was all dressed up for?
We asked, and were told it was a big deal, but didn’t quite catch the names, or why they were special… Tried googling too, but without success. It shall just have to remain part of the mysterious enigma of Batu! 😉
That’s one lot of stairs and a lot of people in my books at least for the start of the day. Looks like quite a colourful, interesting place to visit.
We were taken by surprise at the business, too! We were just lucky the kids were well-rested and up for the challenge. We were lucky to have seen everyone so dressed up. It was brilliant!
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