Batu Caves...tourism and monkey poo
Trip Start Feb 11, 2008
58Trip End Jun 30, 2008
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Batu Caves - the main reason I wanted to come to KL in the first place. In the late 19th Century the Indian elders living in KL created some Hindu temples within the limestone caves located about 3 miles north of the city as they felt the limestone outcrop resembled the cragsof the Himalayas.
A hundred or so years later the beautiful natural cathedral of the caves (created over 400 million years ago), reached by climbing the 279 uneven steps, have been transformed into colourful temple shrines; watched over by a huge golden statue and surrounded by eateries and tacky toursit outlets feeding the many tourists (both western and domestic) who flock to this fascinating place. It is here that each February sees the Hindu festival of Thaipusam where devotees perform various actsof devotion to the Hindu god Murugan, the youngestShiva and Parvati, which include anything from carrying a potof milk on their heads up the 279 steps to carrying out acts of mortification of the flesh involving sharp hooks placed in their flesh from which are hung offerings such as fruit and vegetables...ouch!
The caves are pretty cool (at least once you're out of the sun) and the grotto like limestone formations are amazing. However, as a temple, a great deal of reverence hasbeen lost from the number of tourists, the litter and to the chatter of Rhemus Monkeys squabbling over fruit and coconuts thrown to them by the (yet again) ignorant tourists and the pervading smell of urine which seems to constantly hang in the still, cool air. If I were a devotee of the Hindu faith, I would be rather put out by the fact that these magnificent temples and incredible caves have been turned into a touristattraction filled with shouting children and camera clicking tourists. Imagine you horror to find a similar occurence at Salisbury Cathedral, say. Perhaps I'm being over sensitive, butas I didn't have a chance to ask anybody who appeared to be a hindu their opinion about the use of their temples( because I didn't see a single devotee, just tourists) Idon't know! We enjoyed our time there anyway.