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Batu Caves
Photo: The cave interior of one of Batu's Caves

First discovered over 100 years ago, the Batu Caves have never ceased to attract visitors. Only 13 km north of Kuala Lumpur, they consist of three main caves and a number of smaller ones.

The best known of these caves is the Temple Cave, a large cavern with a vaulted ceiling about 100 metres above the floor. To reach it one has to climb 272 steps, a feat performed by many Hindus on the way to the caves to offer prayers to their revered deities. Every year, on Thaipusam, as many as 800,000 devotees and other visitors may throng the caves. As a form of penance or sacrifice, many of them carry kavadis. These are large, brightly decorated frameworks, usually combined with various metal hooks and skewers which are used to pierce the skin, cheeks and tongue.

A little below the Temple Cave is the Dark Cave, a two-kilometre long network of relatively untouched caverns containing a large number of cave animals, including several found nowhere else in the world! Access to this cave is restricted and permission and guidelines must be obtained from the Malaysian Nature Society.

At the foot of the steps is the art Gallery Cave, in which are displayed statues and wall paintings depicting Hindu mythology. Access is via a concrete walkway spanning a small lake and nominal entrance fee is charged.

Local buses to Batu Caves can be boarded at the Pudu Raya Bus Terminal in Kuala Lumpur.