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Malaysia with Kids: Batu Caves- Or How the kids hiked up 272 steps in Kuala Lumpur

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Vagabond Kids: Malaysia with Kids: Batu Caves- Or How the kids hiked up 272 steps in Kuala Lumpur

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Malaysia with Kids: Batu Caves- Or How the kids hiked up 272 steps in Kuala Lumpur

Batu Caves, Kuala Lumpur.

At the top of 272 steps is Batu Caves, one of Malaysia's (or at the least, Kuala Lumpur's) most famous tourist attractions. The caves are located about 13 kilometers from downtown KL and can be reached by bus, taxi or hired car. Last spring the vagabond kids and vagabond dad accompanied me while I spent a week for work in KL. One of the highlights of the trips was by far the morning spent at the Caves. Batu Caves was even featured in Season 11 of the Amazing Race!

Batu Caves is a Hindu temple dedicated to the Lord Murgan (the God of Victory and Kundalini in the Hindu faith) and is one most sacred sites for Malaysian Hindus. Every year in late January, early February, the temple becomes filled with devotees during the Thai Pusam festival where Icons are carried up the temple steps (remember there are 272 of them) and devotees often pierce their skin and tongues and carry these heavy idols up the stairs as a test and form of self sacrifice to the gods. (For more information on Thai Pusam click here).

Inside the caves Indian Idols and Mythological Creatures abound.

The day the kids and Vagabond Dad went was a nice morning in June. While at the temple they were able to get blessed by a Hindu priest, visit the petting zoo in front of the temples and visit the caves filled with Hindu idols and religious mythological creatures by way of paintings and statues filing the caves. The kids had a blast watching the Hindu dancers practice dances and even invite tourists on Stage too. I heard that Vagabond dad was invited, but the kid's don't have any photographic proof and he denies that he was a dancing fool!

Dancers at Batu Caves

The day was finished when the kids hiked back down the hill, tired and hungry and they retreated back to the hotel for lunch and a swim in the pool. Batu Caves is a place that as an adult, my first trip was underwhelming. Looking back and looking at it from the kids perspective I realized I missed so much. What a great place to visit and catch a glimpse of Indian Culture and Religion (in particular that related to the Tamil people). When we travel back as a family to KL this summer I plan on doing Batu Caves again with a whole new mindset!

After being blessed by the temple priest.

A note of caution about the temples and the stairs, the steps are steep and it does take a while to climb and I don't recommend taking toddlers as there are many places a little one could fall and or trip around this area. Also, as you can tell the idolatry around the temple does contain half dressed semi-human forms. Finally, there are a number of Macaque monkeys around the temple and they are very aggressive if you are carrying fruit or snacks (particualrly in plastic bags) as many of the locals feed the monkeys and they have become accoustom to begging and stealing food.

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