Monday Jun 17, 2024

Batu Caves Śrī Subramaniar Swamy Devasthanam – Malaysia

Address

Batu Caves Śrī Subramaniar Swamy Devasthanam 68100, Jalan Gombak, Batu Caves, 68100 Kuala Lumpur, Selangor, Malaysia

Diety

Sri Subramaniar Swamy

Introduction

Batu Caves is a limestone hill that has a series of caves and cave temples in Gombak, Selangor, Malaysia. It takes its name from the Malay word batu, meaning ‘rock’. The hill was originally known as Kapal Tanggang from the legend of Si Tanggang. The town nearby is named after the Batu Caves limestone formation. The cave is one of the most popular Hindu shrines outside India, and is dedicated to Lord Murugan. It is the focal point of the Tamil festival of Thaipusam in Malaysia. Batu Caves in short also referred as 10th Caves or Hill for Lord Muruga as there are six important holy shrines in India and four more in Malaysia. The three others in Malaysia are Kallumalai Temple in Ipoh, Tanneermalai Temple in Penang and Sannasimalai Temple in Malacca. Batu Malai Sri Murugan Temple is managed by the Board of Management of Sri Maha Mariamman Temple Devasthanam, which also manages the Sri Mahamariamman Temple, Kuala Lumpur and the Kortumalai Pillaiyar Temple.

Puranic Significance

The limestone forming Batu Caves is said to be around 400 million years old. Some of the cave entrances were used as shelters by the indigenous Temuan people (a tribe of Orang Asli). As early as 1860, Chinese settlers began excavating guano for fertilising their vegetable patches. However, they became famous only after the limestone hills were recorded by colonial authorities including Daly and Syers as well as American Naturalist, William Hornaday in 1878. Batu Caves was promoted as a place of worship by K. Thamboosamy Pillai, an Indian Tamil trader. He was inspired by the vel-shaped entrance of the main cave and was inspired to dedicate a temple to Lord Murugan within the caves. In 1890, Pillai, who also founded the Sri Mahamariamman Temple, Kuala Lumpur, installed the murti (consecrated statue) of Sri Murugan Swami in what is today known as the Temple Cave. Since 1892, the Thaipusam festival in the Tamil month of Thai (which falls in late January/early February) has been celebrated there. Wooden steps up to the Temple Cave were built in 1920.In the 1930s, the stairs began to show signs of wear and tear, and then temple chairman Ramachandran Naidu proposed to build two flights of concrete stairs to the upper caves. The proposal was forwarded to Sorobgom in 1939. The work was completed in 1940, just in time for the Thaipusam celebration that year according to current temple Chairman R. Nadarajah. Currently there are 272 concrete steps. Of the various cave temples that comprise the site. The largest and best known is the Temple Cave, so named because it houses several Hindu shrines beneath its high vaulted ceiling. In August 2018 the 272 steps were painted, each set of steps painted in a different range of colors. However, accusations were almost immediately made by the National Heritage Department for a breach of law requiring authorization for renovations within 200 meters of a heritage site. The temple’s management disputed their failure to receive authorization.

Beliefs

The kavadi may be simple wooden arched semi-circular supports holding a carrier foisted with brass or clay pots of milk or huge, heavy ones which may rise up to two meters, built of bowed metal frames which hold long skewers, the sharpened end of which pierce the skin of the bearers torso. The kavadi is decorated with flowers and peacock feathers imported from India. Some kavadi may weigh as much as a hundred kilograms. After bathing in the nearby Sungai Batu (Rocky River), the devotees make their way to the Temple Cave and climb the flights of stairs to the temple in the cave. Devotees use the wider centre staircase while worshippers and onlookers throng up and down those balustrades on either side. When the kavadi bearer arrives at the foot of the 272-step stairway leading up to the Temple Cave, the devotee has to make the arduous climb. Priests attend to the kavadi bearers. Consecrated ash is sprinkled over the hooks and skewers piercing the devotees’ flesh before they are removed. It believed that, No blood is shed during the piercing and removal.

Special Features

The Batu Caves temple complex consists of three main caves and a few smaller ones. The biggest, referred to as Cathedral Cave or Temple Cave, has a very high ceiling and features ornate Hindu shrines. To reach it, visitors must climb a steep flight of 272 steps. At the base of the hill are two more cave temples, Art Gallery Cave and Museum Cave, both of which are full of Hindu statues and paintings. This complex was renovated and opened as the Cave Villa in 2008. Many of the shrines relate the story of Lord Murugan’s victory over the demon Soorapadman. The Ramayana Cave is situated to the extreme left as one faces the sheer wall of the hill. On the way to the Ramayana Cave, there is a 15 m (50 ft) tall statue of Hanuman and a temple dedicated to Lord Hanuman, devotee and aide of Lord Rama. The consecration ceremony of the temple was held in November 2001. The Ramayana Cave depicts the story of Rama in a chronicle manner along the irregular walls of the cave. A 42.7-metre (140 ft) high statue of Lord Murugan was unveiled in January 2006, having taken 3 years to construct. It is the tallest Lord Murugan statue in the world.

Festivals

The Batu Caves serve as the focus of the Tamil community’s yearly Thaipusam festival. Devotees carry containers containing milk as offering to Lord Murugan either by hand or in huge decorated carriers on their shoulders called ‘Kavadi’.

Century/Period/Age

1920

Managed By

Board of Sri Maha Mariamman Temple Devastham

Nearest Bus Station

Batu Cave.

Nearest Railway Station

Senthalur

Nearest Airport

Kuala Lumpur

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