Save for the Malayans and Chinese, the biggest population in Malaysia is Indian. Majority of them are Tamilians. Even though the Indian culture was routed in Malysia during the Chola age, the people we see now are successors of the laborers who migrated to work in rubber estates and zinc mines during the colonial age. During their indefinite journey to the unfamiliar land, they took Muruka and Mariyamman to accompany them.
'Bathu Malai Murukan' is a very important God to worship for the Indians in Malaysia. It is a popular attraction for the tourists also. The temple of Muruka is located in the natural cave on the top of Bathu mountain north to Kuala Lumpur. The big statue of Vel Muruka near the entrance at the bottom is the hallmark of the temple. It is the largest Muruka statue in the world. The golden statue standing in the background of the big Bathu Mountain clad in greenery, giving shades of black and white is a beautiful scene. You can see the 130 feet high Muruka from a very long distance. It took three years to complete this statue in 2006.
You can reach the cave on top of the mountain by climbing 272 steps. But the well-paved steps are very steep. You can also see many monkeys on these steps. The wide face of the cave made in time by moist limestone. Beyond the entrance you can get down to the vast stone courtyard. You can see Pazhaniyandava, Ganapati and other deities on the sides of the courtyard. Looking above, you can see hanging stone profiles from the white limestone which is wearing off slowly. Again on the next level on the flat stone ground is the temple. Here the roof is open, the sunlight mixed with the water falling from the rocks above. The temple of Bathu Muruka is small and without any luxury. Like the temples seen in some roadside Tamil villages, it has a small mandapa and an inner house. We could see young ladies, wearing 'banians' and shorts, posing with the statue as the background. Among them there is the priest giving prasada, chanting prayers. There are no rituals to enter the temple. Since it is a tourist centre, there are no restrictions for anything. It is said that more than three thousand people visit Bathu cave every day. And the temple is run by Mahamariyamman Devasthana.
The deity was installed in the cave by a rich tamilian named Thambuswami Pillai in 1890. The Thaipuya ceremony started in 1892. About ten lakh people arrive here to attend the three-day celebration of Thaipuya ceremony. It is said that the Thaipuya ceremony in none of the temples in Tamilnadu is attended by this many people. From the Mahamariyamman temple in Kuala Lumpur, thousands of believers carrying kavadies, inserting needles on their chins and ladies carrying milk pots on their heads will come to Bathu and take bath in 'Sugai Bathu' river before climbing the mountain. Tamilians from India, Sreelanka, Australia and Vancouver will reach here at that time. Thaipuyam is a public holiday in Malaysia.
In the book named 'Malayan Nadukalil', written by Pottekkad, the Bathu cave is described as the camp of robbers. There is no reference about Bathu Muruka in his description. On the side of the cave there are two dark parting ways that go down. That is called Dark Caves.
There are adventurous tours conducted by Malaysian Nature Society to this place where rare cave spiders, scorpions, bats and other insects live. The facility for rock climbing is also available. In the two separate caves adjacent to Bathu cave, you can see Valluvar Kottam where the inscriptions of Thiru Valluvar are sculptured and the art gallery filled with statues and paintings. On the left side of the mountain, you can see the big statue of Hanuman beyond the newly constructed vast Balaji temple. Below that the Ramayana cave is located, where the stories of Rama is inscribed. Bathu railway station is very close to it.
Country: Malaysia. State: Selangor. Located in a limestone outcrop, batu Caves is a unique and fascinating cave temple. Batu caves consists of three big caves, with the main cave housing ornate Hindu shrines. this destination draws a huge international crowd during Thaipusam, an annual festival which pays homage to Lord muruga. The 140 feet statue of Lord Muruga, visible from miles away is the main attraction.
How to reach
Batu Caves is 13 km from Kuala Lumpur City. The easiest way to reach Batu Caves is by Komuter train from KL Sentral (central) station. The Batu station is adjacent to the cave temple. It costs RM 2 (Rs.30) for one-way journey. You can also take a taxi, which would cost 20-25 RM from KL Sentral (insist for meter ride). You can also reach Batu Caves by bus 11/11d Buses from Bangkok Bank Terminus (Near to Puduraya Terminus) or Bus U6 from Titiwan-gsa.
Text: RL Harilal