Batu Caves

The engine of the Proton minibus is humming gently, Viyaj drives at a relaxed pace. We will leave Kuala Lumpur shortly. We travel directly to the Batu Caves, the sanctuary of the Hindus living in Malaysia, which is a huge limestone rock with vertical walls hiding a giant cave. 272 steep stairs lead to the entrance. Next to the stairway stands the 30 meters high, gold-plated statue of Murugan, the older brother of the elephant-headed god, Ganesha. The name plate on the pedestal proudly proclaims: this is the biggest statue of Murugan in the world. It seems like size matters, even if it comes to religion.

We start to climb up on the stairs those were approximately 35-40 cm high each, two times higher than any stair at home. We have to take big steps what is more than tiring in this muggy, 37degree heat. Many people climb all around, making breaks, holding the barriers tightly and gasping for air. Many of them feel very bad. Actually, this is their motive to be here. Hindus with small complaints – toothache, renal colic, etc. – firstly come here to ask the help of Murugan. Building this church in this huge limestone cave on the top of the stairway was a smart and prescient idea. If somebody manages to climb up the stairs the god will most likely heal the believer. If someone fails on the stairs…

On the bushes, trees and lamp posts beside the stairway a big batch of insolent monkeys follows the crowd grabbing and taking all the unattended items. We finally arrive to the top. A line of vendors sell shrines, sacrificial objects and baubles here in their huts, in one of them happy Indian music is played. We are standing in the mouth of the cave. The gate is at least 30-40 meters high and wide. We get going. The space expands and the ceiling rises. This is a hall with an immense size; we estimate the “plafond” to be at least 200-250 meters high. It also helps that the top of the cave is torn at some places and the sky shows itself to the visitors. Moving on another stairway comes, leading to another cave which has no top at all. It is actually a chimney rock, an amazing natural formation. In the middle stands the church of Murugan, in the center with his painted statue with a remarkable mustache. His believers worship at his legs and touch the floor with their foreheads.

Hindus have numerous gods – according to a stranger more than 33 million gods are known, but our source admitted that only a few dozen are familiar to him. All of the gods play a special role, and all of them are recognizable by a special shape, posture or color. Viyaj, our driver, explains that in the case of religions without manifested gods believers have no idea who they are praying to and who they respect with their belief making even believing hard. On the contrary, a Hindu knows exactly to which manifested god he or she is praying. This way the visualization of the god is possible, making the belief even stronger. It’s a practical way of thinking…

We walk downstairs back to the parking lot and notice a vendor sitting next to a pile of green coconuts. With a stainless meat-chopper in his hands it takes for him only a few minutes to hit a hole on the peak of the nut to make the milk drinkable with a straw. We also buy some. It costs 4 rigits (1 USD). Supping the 2-3 deciliter of the warm, sweet drink we realize that not only our thirst, but also our hunger is gone. It’s a pity because we have already chosen an Indian diner on our way here. Maybe next time…

 

Murugan and steps to Batu-caves - Murugan szobra és a lépcsősor a Batu-barlangokhozTünde and Zsolt in front of Murugan's statue - Murugan szobra előttHindi religious figures - Hindu vallási alakok Young coconut - Éretlen kókuszdió

This entry was posted in Buildings, Malaysia, Monuments, Religion.