The Lester File

Wednesday, February 15, 2006

Batu Caves

While visiting my Aunt Kathy and Uncle Harry in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia we visited a Hindu shrine called the Batu Caves (see below). The caves are natural and the shrine was built inside to commemorate the birth and life of Lord Morugan, the son of Shiva, an incarnation of Vishnu. It is a very holy place of pilgramage for devotees. There are places that tourists are not allowed to enter, but the outside of the inner shrines are very ornate and colorful. There were 272 steep steps to climb! I mean... its not that much. It reminded me of the endless steps Meghan, Jen, and I climbed to reach the top of the Mayan Pyramids. The view was spectacular.
Meg, Brad, and I bought a recording that told the history and Hindu tales that
make the caves so special. As we listened we walked to the inner most part of the cave that opens up to the sky and houses 3 shrines. We wanted to get closer in, but we were stopped by a group of wild monkeys.

Needless to say, the temperament of these animals was heightened and volatile. Many times, we were fearful of being bitten until we finally ran down the steps and away... but the monkeys followed us. They believed we had food hidden somewhere and, indeed, one of us had candy in their pockets that they didn't think would be a problem. No one warned us that the monkeys could be violent or that there were monkeys at all. When we got back down to the ticket booth, we asked the woman if the monkeys were always so unfriendly. She said, "of course, they are wild! Oh, by the way, try not to get to close... the probably have rabies!" That would have been excellent information BEFORE we got within 2 feet of their nasty, large, sharp incisors!

No worries! We escaped unscathed until the next monkey incident which occured in Krabi. I already explained that, but i may add one picture... its a doozy. "you and me baby ain't nothin' but mammals..."

Anyway, Aunt Kathy drove us all to and from the caves... all 6 of us (7 including her) in her company car that comfortably seats 5. It was an adventure... definitely Lester worthy! (for the fam)

Batu Caves

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Batu Caves is a limestone hill to the north of Kuala Lumpur, Malaysiacaves and cave temples. It takes its name from the Sungai Batu or Batu River, which flows past the hill. which has a series of

The 'Orang Asli' (local aboriginal tribes called Jakun) had been aware of the caves for a long time. However, they became famous only after it was discovered by the American Naturalist, William Hornaday in 1878.

Of the various cave temples that comprise the site, the largest and best known is the Temple or Cathedral Cave, so named because it houses several Hindu shrines beneath its 100 m vaulted ceiling.

These serve as the focus of the Hindu community's yearly Thaipusam festival. The site is well known for its numerous macaque monkeys, which visitors feed, sometimes involuntarily. There are 272 steps that a visitor has to climb in order to access the temple at the summit of the hill. Many of the shrines relate the story of Lord Murugan's victory over Soorapadam. An audio tour is available to visitors.

At the base of the hill are two more cave temples, Art Gallery Cave and Museum Cave, both of which are full of Hindu statues and paintings.

A little below the Temple Cave is the Dark Cave, a two-kilometer network of relatively untouched caverns. The caverns contain a diverse range of cave fauna, including some unique species, such as Liphistiidae spiders. In order to maintain the cave's ecology, access is restricted. A private company is running tours to the caves.

I mean... do I lie?? Those monkeys are NUTS! Wikipedia even knows about them!


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