17 March 2009

Batu Caves

The Batu Caves are a Hindu shrine located in a limestone cliff about 15km outside of downtown KL.

The caves are famous for the Hindu Thaipusam festival which takes place every year in January/February and sees a million pilgrims visit over three days.

Normally were quite disappointed to miss a big festival, but having seen Thaipusam on TV, we're quite glad to have missed it. The festival features the kavadi carriers who pierce themselves through the skin with big hooks and use them to carry pitchers of milk and other offerings on the pilgrimage walk from the city centre to the caves. Some also pierce their cheeks and tongues with skewers for additional fulfillment. As if being pierced through the face with a spike isn't bad enough when it's removed the wound is treated with lemon juice and ash.

The entrance to the caves is via a 272 step stairway that is flanked by a giant golden statue of Lord Subramaniam.

Also guarding the steps are more monkeys who seem to do quite a good job hustling the visitors out their food and other belongings.

On the way out we saw this rather unusual looking cow/lady hybrid!

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