Being an Indian expat in Malaysia is a blessing in disguise. Most Indians are a religious lot; we love our temples, our festivals and rituals. We feel lost if we can’t find a temple in the vicinity. And Malaysia, Kuala Lumpur in fact has been that blessing for the Indian expats practicing Hinduism. There are a huge number of Hindu temples here, the most vibrant of them all; according to me is the Murugan Temple at Batu Caves in Gombak. The towering statue of Lord Murugan is in itself a wonder. Add to this, the mystical limestone caves and to top it all, the flight of steps you need to climb to reach the main deity. To me, this is a spiritually appealing place to visit.
So, where is this place?
The Batu Caves temple is located in the area of Gombak in Selangor. The temple can be reached by KTM Komuter train from KL Sentral, buy the ticket for Batu Caves (last stop in this line). The station is just outside the temple premises. Alternately you could reach the temple by taxi as well. But if you wish to travel on a budget or experience the local public transport system, feel free to ride the KTM Komuter.
What about this place?
The caves are said to be about 400 million years old and due to divine intervention, the temple was constructed. The golden Murugan statue stands at a height of approximately 42 metres! If you notice carefully, you can see the entrance to the cave is shaped like the spear held by the deity (Vel). There are 272 steps to climb up to reach the main deity at the top. The climb can be a bit steep, but manageable. Be aware of the monkeys on the way up, they might try to grab whatever food you might have in hand.
When to visit?
You can visit this temple any time, but it is at its glorious best during the Thaipusam festival that falls during the Tamil month of Thai – between Jan 15 and Feb 15 every year. People from all parts of the world come here to celebrate, to fulfil their vows – be it in the form of body piercings or carrying the “kavadi” which is considered to bring good luck and auspicious; the display of reverence is just unexplainable. Coming from India, I haven’t seen so much in my own country and to see it here, in a foreign land is just overwhelming.
There are a few other temples on the ground level, very interesting and beautifully made.
How to dress up?
Since this is a place of worship, it is advised to dress up modestly. Wear shoes while climbing but you might need to remove them when you enter the main sanctum.
Oh and do not forget to quench your thirst with some delicious coconut water at the ground level!
/// Written by Hridya Ramani, Malaysia