Jalan Batu Caves, Selangor, Malaysia
NileGuide Expert tip:
Be on the lookout for wild monkeys. They may appear endearing but can be rather mischievous. The easiest way to reach Batu Caves is by KTM commuter train from KL Sentral (a one-way journey to the Sentul stop costs RM2/ US$.65), or in a cab, which will cost you RM20-25/ US$7-8 from KL Sentral. Another option is to get on the number 11 bus from KL's Jalan Tun HS Lee, near Bangkok Bank.
A gigantic golden statute of Lord Muruga stands guard at the temple grounds. Ascend the steep 272 steps to the famous Hindu temple of Batu Caves. It's hard work climbing in such soaring temperatures but it's all worth it – lodged within the caves about 400 feet above ground level are a number of colorful Hindu shrines, part of the 113-yer old temple. The caves have evolved to become one of the holiest Hindu sites in the country. Sunlight pours in from the open rooftop, coating the statues with a golden hue. Devotees chant and clap, paying homage to the Hindu God Lord Subramaniar. Receive your blessings from the priest and prepare to head down (naturally, it's a much easier feat). Batu Caves 'explodes' during the festival of Thaipusam, Try to visit the temples during this time as there's nothing quite like it. Throngs of devotees converge at the temple - a snaking procession of chariots and people carrying kavadis (wooden structures hoisted on the backs and heads of devotees) make their way up to the temple. These kavadis are built of wood and bowed metal frames, which hold long skewers; their sharpened ends pierce the skin as an act of penance. The devotees make the arduous climb up to the temple in a trance-like state.