It’s a hot, sticky morning and all around me is the scent of Jasmine incense and citrus. I’m in Batu Caves, a series of caves and Hindu temples within the limestone rock on the North side of Kuala Lumpur.
All the guides say it’s a steep climb of 272 steps, but if they think it’s steep they obviously haven’t climped Mt Popa in Burma. Both Popa and Mandalay Hill prepared me well for all future temple climbs.
It’s refreshing and exciting to arrive to the colours, sounds and scents of the Hindu ceremonies, as I’ve only seen Buddhist ones on my trip so far. As the drum is beaten rhythmically to the melodies of a pipe-like instrument, new born babies are blessed as people pray to the Gods.
People disperse as quickly as they assemble and I’m left wondering what it’s all about – who is the man giving out the blessings? What is the white powder he’s handing out to people or placing on their forehead with his thumb? Why are the babies’ heads covered in yellow paste? Which God is everyone facing in awe? It reminds me that the more I discover the less I realise I know, and I set about downloading more books to my Kindle.
When I climb the steps I enter a huge cavern lined with limestone stalactites, with small shrines dotted around the larger temples. There’s a spectacular shaft of light at the other end and I’m drawn to it.
The light shines down on another temple burning oil which causes the whisps of smoke to snake up and reflect the light around the cave. When I look up I feel like I’m in another world.
This magical little excursion cost me all of 2 Ringgit – the equivalent of 42 pence, or 64 cents (US).
Practical Information: I got the train from KL Sentral to Batu Caves (1 Ringgit each way, roughly 20-30 minutes each way). The main cave is free to enter.