After a day or so of pounding the sweltering streets to see the sights of Kuala Lumpur, the prospect of an out of town trip was an attractive one. And the Batu Caves turned out to be a trip well worth making.

Batu cavesIt was 1878 when American naturalist William Hornaday discovered the cave formation just 13km outside of KL. The local Hindu population asked if they could worship there and what resulted is a shrine dedicated to Muruga, also known as Lord Subramaniam. It’s popular with pilgrims and is the end destination for an annual procession that begins in the city and finishes 48 hours later on the day of Thaipusam festival.

Ironically the money shot at the Batu Caves is not from inside the caves, but of the enormous gold statue of Muruga that stands at the foot of the steps leading to the main one. Said to be the largest of its kind in the world, it towers and gleams in the sunlight as it protects the holy shrine within.

The steps are helpfully numbered though many have worn off, but it’s 272 to the top and you need to hang onto your possessions on route as there are lots of monkeys who will have them off you in the blink of an eye. Just passed step 200 you can veer off to the Dark Cave for a tour, but only if you like bats as they are a star attraction.

Batu cavesWhen you get to the top, steps lead down into the large main cave where there’s a temple on the left next to yet another flight of stairs going up. This one is to reach the final part which is open to daylight and holds the temple that most Hindus seemed to be coming to the Batu Caves to visit. It’s quite a pilgrimage to get there but I guess that’s the point.

Down at ground level there’s the usual array of eating places and stalls selling tat and also a couple of other attractions. The most popular seemed to be Cave Villa with painted statues and a small bird park, but we opted for the Ramayana cave, just next to the train station entrance which didn’t look much from the outside but was surprisingly impressive.

Batu cavesOnce inside it opened into a huge cave filled with an array of colourful figures depicting stories from Hindu history, including a huge reclining one. A stairway has been erected inside here too, making it easy to climb to the top and admire the cavernous space below.

Getting to the Batu Caves couldn’t be simpler as the Komuter train service runs there from KL Sentral station, costs RM8 return (about £1.60) and takes about half an hour. Definitely an out of town trip worth taking.

Click on an image below to scroll through the gallery and check out my post about Kuala Lumpur for info about the city itself.