Batu Caves (Tamil: பத்து மலை; Chinese: 黑 風洞) is a set of caves located on a limestone hill in Gombak (Selangor), Malaysia, known to be one of the most popular Hindu shrines outside India. . The temple is dedicated to Murugan.
The limestone that forms the Batu Caves is estimated to be about four hundred million years old. Some of the caves were used as a refuge by Aboriginal tribes.
In the early 1860s, Chinese settlers began extracting guano from caves to use as fertilizer.
Indian merchant K. Thamboosamy Pillai promoted this place as a place of worship, inspired by the shape of the entrance to the main cave, dedicating a temple to Murugan. In 1890 he installed a statue (murti) of the deity Murugan in the place now known as the Temple Cave. The Hindu festival of Thaipusam has been celebrated there since 1892. In 1920, wooden stairs were built in the Temple Cave, which were later replaced by 272 concrete steps. Apart from the Temple Cave, there are other smaller temples in the caves.
Flora and fauna
The network of caves is home to a wide range of animal species, including species that only live here such as Dugesia batuensis or some types of lifistids and bats. The place is also known for its macaques.
To maintain this biodiversity, access to many of the caves is restricted. The Malaysian Nature Society organizes educational tours inside these caves.