Climbing Up Batu Caves 272 Steps

Do you know that Batu Caves is usually listed as a sightseeing attraction in Kuala Lumpur, and that is actually incorrect? It is easy to get it wrong. As a Malaysian, even I struggle in the explanation bit, but let me give it a go. Geographically, Kuala Lumpur is located in Selangor but politically, since 1974, KL has seceded from Selangor to become a federal territory. Batu Caves’s address is in Gombak District, and that falls under Selangor. If you really want to know, Gombak borders Kuala Lumpur to the southeast.

One of the most photgraphed Lord Murugan statues
Lord Murugan statue: the must-take photo by tourists

To most Malaysians, it’s like a visit once, and that’s about it. But not me. Batu Caves is one of my favorite places, as their 272 steps are perfect for that little leg-exercise. It is also not too far away from home, plus admission is also free.

 

Getting there

From Kepong (where I stay), it was a 15 minutes drive for 8km distance on a Sunday morning. Ample parking space provided, and I paid RM 2 for parking per entry.

Batu Caves komuter station next to Batu Caves
Batu Caves komuter station next to Batu Caves

Turning in to Batu Caves entrance, I saw that the Batu Caves Komuter station is just next to Batu Caves, but not connecting. No surprise that the Komuter entrance is not connecting to Batu Caves, we’re not exactly top-notch in making things easy for commuters. You’ll probably still need to walk 5 minutes or so to get to the entrance of Batu Caves. Cash fare from KL Sentral station to Batu Caves station is RM 2.60, for other departing stations, see here.

 

Best time to go

Before the sun gets too hot, I guess. I arrived there around 8am. By the time I walked down around 9am, the tour groups start to show up. You should also time your arrival to the temples’ prayer time.

Lord Muragan temple
Lord Murugan temple
Prayer in progress
Prayers in progress
Praying ..
Praying ..
The prayer is an attraction on its own
The prayer is an attraction on its own

Do note that there are few temples in Batu Caves. Lord Murugan Temple, also known as Temple Cave, Cathedral Cave or Top Cave is the largest and most popular, and it features various ornate Hindu shrines. To reach the top temple, you would need to walk your way up 272 steps.

Prayer time:

MORNING

All the below temples

  • 6am – Opening of the temple
  • 6.30am – Abhishegam (a religious bathing ceremony)
  • 7am – Prayers start

Lord Murugan Temple (Top Cave)

  • 7am – Opening (Cave Gate)
  • 8am – Abhishegam (a religious bathing ceremony)
  • 8.30 am – Prayers start

EVENING

All the below temples

  • 5pm-5.30pm- Abhishegam (a religious bathing ceremony)
  • 6pm – Prayers start

Lord Murugan Temple (Top Cave)

  • 4pm – Abhishegam (a religious bathing ceremony)
  • 4.30pm – Prayers start

All the temples will start closing their gate around 8.30pm (top cave) and 9pm (below cave), except for special days/prayers, etc.

Indian wedding (Photographer: Pravich Vutthisombut)
Indian wedding at Batu Caves (Photographer: Pravich Vutthisombut)
Indian wedding (Photographer: Pravich Vutthimsombut)
Indian wedding at Batu Caves (Photographer: Pravich Vutthimsombut)

If you’re lucky, you might even catch a wedding, or two.

 

The introduction of Dress Code

Dress Code
Dress Code

As someone who sees Batu Caves as a convenient “exercise” place, I can understand the logic behind the introduction of dress code. Some people tend to forget that Batu Caves is a religious place to the Hindus. Probably they forgotten that Batu Caves is not only just a series limestone caves, but there are cave temples and shrines within it. Imagine people walking in during church service in a mini skirt or revealing apparels. Tsk.

It was reported in media that the dress code is not strictly enforced here. But be considerate please, and make the world a better place. Do make sure that your arms are covered to elbows and your skirts or trousers fall below the knee.

Sarong rental is available
Sarong rental is available

If you are not prepared, there is sarong rental at the foot of the cave, which you can use the cloth to wrap around your body or tuck at your waist. The cost is only RM 3: pay RM 5 and get refund RM 2 upon return of the sarong.

Women-specific dress code?!
Women-specific dress code?!
Dress code for women only?
Dress code for women only?

But I found that the dress code affects the ladies more than the men … women’ legs are more offensive than the men, huh?

 

The 272 steps

272 steps sound daunting, but it was no sweat to me. Mou man tai, no problem. It took me around 10 minutes up to the first cave, including photo snapping along the way. It took another 5 minutes to get to the top cave.

I saw some people struggling on the way up. You know you yourself better. It’s not a race; if you are not a physically active person, go slow …

 

Renovation

Barricade everywhere
Barricade everywhere
… and scafffolding is unsightly next to Lord Murugan statue
Be prepared for a less than perfect photo of the Lord Murugan statue
Be prepared for a less-than-perfect photo of the Lord Murugan statue

If you’re planning for a trip to Batu Caves soon, be warned that the historical site is under maintenance. There were scaffoldings and piles of bricks, rocks and sands everywhere. I searched for information about the maintenance works, but couldn’t find any informations. There should be announcement somewhere … pity tourists traveling all the way there, not knowing about the works. Not sure if it’s in preparation for next year’s Thaipusam, in February 2017.

People were seen carrying bucket of stones up
People were seen carrying bucket of stones up

Coming down, I noticed locals and tourists carrying buckets filled with stones heading up. I thought that it was some sort of ‘offerings’ .. make donations and contribute to the maintenance work kind of thing.

You can choose to help, or not ...
You can choose to help, or not …

But, after checking with a local Indian, I was told that it was just to help bringing the stones up for the maintenance work. Update Sept 2017: read more about it here.

Guess what is this?
Guess what is this?
Super tall donation box
Super tall donation box

I found the super gigantic donation box hilarious … they must be in dire need of donations! Since there is no admission fee to Batu Caves, do contribute lah ..

 

 

 

Batu Caves
Address: Batu Caves, Gombak, Selangor, Malaysia
Contact Number: (+603) 2287-9422
Open Hours: 6:00 AM to 9:00 PM, Daily
Entrance Fee: Free

 

Notyourtypicaltourist

Travel opens up a whole new world, which is cliche but true. I am a strong advocate for independent and solo travel. I was born and raised in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia but now live in Bangkok, Thailand, resulted from a chance encounter in 2009 with my why-are-you-Thai bf. I am now split between two countries. One country for my bf, another for the family, for the occasional weekend together.