Climbing the Batu Caves - Gombak, Selangor, Malaysia

Climbing the Batu Caves - Gombak, Selangor, Malaysia

Climbing the Batu Caves - Gombak, Selangor, Malaysia


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160, 161, 162...I took a deep breath and looked back to see the skyline of Kuala Lumpur off in the distance. I was making the arduous climb of 272 steps to the top of the caves in the stifling heat. At that particular moment I really needed a large bottle of Gatorade and a moving escalator.

Destination: At the top to three caves with the most popular and largest one being Cathedral Cave.

Location: 13 kilometers north of Kuala Lumpur at the Batu Caves.

Country: Malaysia

The Batu Caves is one of the most prominent Hindu shrines outside India. The limestone hill features a handful of caves and temples. At the end of January and sometimes in the beginning of February the caves become the focal point for the Thaipusam festival where up to a million pilgrims will visit. This is the religious festival where devotees pierce their skin (mainly their tongue, cheeks and back) with skewers. I don’t know about the devotees, but I would have had a painful time photographing them. In the end, it didn’t matter since I arrived into Malaysia just hours after the festival had ended.

The most popular of the caves is the Cathedral or Temple Cave. You can’t miss it, just look for the long and steep staircase of 272 steps and the huge, golden statue of Lord Muragan (the tallest one of its kind in the world).

I consider myself a fit guy so 272 steps to reach the top sounded very reasonable. I was ascending nonstop on the staircase at a steady pace when finally the heat and dehydration hit me at around stair step 162. I took a brief break to drink water and take some photos with my Canon 5D Mark II DSLR camera (which at that moment felt like a ton of bricks). My pity party quickly dissipated when two women, wearing full length black burqas, passed me on the stairs.

I put my camera away and quickly finished the rest of the ascent without stopping until I reached the top. Happy with my accomplishment, I reached for my water bottle in my back pocket only to realize I left it down at step 162.

I don’t know what was more painful my burning leg muscles and lungs or the thought of a pierced tongue and cheek with a big skewer?

Well, at least I came away with a decent photograph!

Check back for more of my Malaysian adventures!

Happy Travels!

Text and photo copyright by ©Sam Antonio Photography

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Taken on: 9th February, 2012. Copyright: All Rights Reserved - See Sam Antonio Photography's page of Flickr

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