Visiting Batu caves in Malaysia was a unique experience for us as it brought the feeling of pride and shame together. At first, we felt proud to see the Indian culture, lord Vishnu being represented in a foreign land, becoming one of the prominent places to visit on many travellers' itineraries. But the garbage spread all around the premises was surely an eyesore. We would have certainly loved to see a better & cleaner representation of what we are as Indians.
On the way up to the temple, we had come across a sign board about Dark cave. On the way back we decided to explore it. It turned out to be one of the best experiences we had in Malaysia. Being nature lovers, both of us are always on the lookout to know more about different species of insects, bugs, animals, birds and in general about our ecology.
The Batu caves and the Dark cave are all formed out of limestone. The stalactite and stalagmite (which we studied in school and we always jumbled up) were standing there, in front of our eyes, and surely never again in my life, I am going to jumble them again. It was a wonderful experience to witness the artwork created by various elements of mother nature permanently in the stone in the form of flowstone, cave pearls, cave curtains and gour pools. It was heart-breaking to hear about how installing lights all over inside that cave once drove many of the natural flora and fauna out of it, thank god they realised their mistake before it was too late. Never in our life had we thought that there can be a whole ecology around owls and their droppings, true, no matter how much we learn, the Earth still holds many more surprises for us. Unique guano-driven ecosystem inside the caves consists of bats, millepedes, spiders (including one of the rare species - trapdoor spider) and other organisms surviving in such conditions.
The best part of our 45-minute tour of the cave was the zero-visibility experience when the guide asked all of us to put out the lights and stay silent for some time which seemed like an eternity. Usually, when we step into the dark, it takes a while for our eyes to get adjusted and we can see at least shapes and silhouettes after a few seconds, but there was no getting used to the dark here. No matter how much time we spent there, it was pitch dark. It felt like we had lost touch with time and space context and existed all alone. The silence was barely punctuated by soft shuffling by the owls overhead or somebody's breath.
We certainly stepped out of that cave as different people than those who had entered it 45 minutes ago.
How to travel from Kuala Lumpur to the Dark cave/Batu caves15 km from Kuala Lumpur city, it is easy to reach by KTM Komuter (red line). The station is called 'Batu Caves' and the caves are just outside the station.
Trains are very good and comfortable, with good frequency even on weekends so don't bother hailing a taxi.
Food & drinks at Dark cave/Batu cavesThere are enough places to buy drinks, water from and some north and south Indian food joints as well. In short, it is ok even if you don't carry a lot of food, water, drinks with you. But if you do, then make sure you put them inside closed bags or back packs as there are abundant monkeys ready to charge at the first sight of it. Be vigilant when you take any food or drink item out, better even avoid it if possible.
Care to be taken while visiting the Dark cave/Batu cavesThe place is without much of shade from sunlight, making it very hot, humid to be at, especially when you are climbing up the stairs. So make sure you have enough supply of drinks/water before you start climbing up, and you are carrying hats, caps, sunglasses, umbrella and a fan if you need one.
You can find more information about the Dark caves tour at http://www.darkcavemalaysia.com, or https://www.facebook.com/DarkCaveMalaysia. The 45-minutes educational tours are conducted throughout the week & weekends without any need for advanced booking, but you can also schedule a 3-4 hours research/adventure tour which is conducted only by requesting in advance. I wish we had this information beforehand so that we could have experienced the adventure tour.
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