After dropping off our laundry nearby, we were going to head out to the Islamic Art Museum and flagged down a taxi, whereupon the driver suggested that we first go to the Batu Caves and then to the museum. Actually, he also suggested a dinner cruise with fireflys, a pewter factory, a batik factory, a city tour … but those we declined.
The Batu Caves, though, sounded good to us and off we zoomed, heading 13 kilometers outside KL to the village of Batu and the limestone cliffs and cave complex. This place has several caves into which have been built several Hindu temples and many shrines dedicated to Lord Murugan and other deities.
“Rising almost 100 m above the ground, the Batu Caves temple complex consists of three main caves and a few smaller ones. The biggest, referred to as Cathedral Cave or Temple Cave, has a 100 m-high ceiling and features ornate Hindu shrines. To reach it, visitors must climb a steep flight of 272 steps. 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. This complex was renovated and opened as the Cave Villa in 2008. Many of the shrines relate the story of Lord Murugan‘s victory over the demon Soorapadam.”
Here, too, the monkeys rule the roost, perching on and scampering along the steps, sculptures, and buildings of the site, sneaking up behind unwary tourists and stealing their belongings. A favourite trick is sliding down the banister and grabbing bags and bottles out of pockets as they zip by. Once past these critters, the main cave is accessed; it’s large and somewhat damp, with droplets of water dripping from the high ceiling onto the stone and tourist heads below. Into the walls of the cave are installed colourful shrines to various Hindu deities, many of which serve as perching posts for the resident monkeys.
The interior of the main cave is huge and looked as if it was set up to accommodate hundreds, if not thousands, of pilgrims – this day, luckily for us, it was very quiet.
After our cave visit, we headed back into town to the National Islamic Art Museum, a beautiful building opened in 1998 and housing a good collection of art and artifacts, including textiles, ceramics, manuscripts, calligraphy and models of important mosques worldwide.
Ty enjoyed looking at the elaborately decorated weaponry, while I examined the beautifully painted Qu’ran pages. The building has several impressive painted domes, much like those in the Turkish mosques I’ve visited. The least impressive part of the experience was lunch in the museum cafe – not so good for the likes of us spoiled by the great food we’ve eaten here so far.
See more pics here.