Updated: Jun 20, 2019
With magnificent sky scrappers, plenty of beaches and exotic menu, Malaysia has an array of experiences to offer. Nonetheless, the highlight of the trip to Kuala Lumpur had to be the dark cave conservation site.
Located about a 20-minute drive from the city center of Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia to the Gombak district of Batu caves, hands down is one of the most visited spots of Kuala Lumpur. The 300 odd stairs to the top of the cave can be bit exhausting, but the good news is that you can stop as often as you’d like for a quick break. Rest assured, the monkeys around are going to leave you entertained. Branching towards the left of the Batu caves, on a 200 something step, you’ll notice a board stating “The Dark Caves.” Up to this point, the littering is prominent, and the path from the turn to dark caves are a lot cleaner. Be that as it may, the 45 minutes guided tour into the conservational dark cave is adventurous and channels your adrenaline in the right direction. Exploring through the limestone passages that are over a million years old, along with cabalistic creatures in complete darkness and silence leads to a unique journey of a primitive experience.
After paying and registering ourselves for the quest, we were asked to return an hour later to make it to the next trip, which in a way was good as we had enough time to explore the temples of Batu cave. Meanwhile, the cave temple is the focal point of Hindu worshippers and attracts thousands of devotees and visitors. The cave is one of the most popular Tamil shrines outside India dedicated to Lord Murugan. Whether religious or not, the placement of the temple amidst the cave and the rituals & offerings all make for a holy encounter.
Following the hour we had, eagerly showed up at the conservation site to commence the trek into the dark cave. Since it is a guided tour, you will be accompanied by a guide who is usually very informative, enthusiastic and funny (Something they all seemed to have in common). First and foremost, information on do’s and don’t of the area were shared. Later on, interesting facts in the evolution of the limestone through time, the ecosystem and the conservation efforts that are being put in are explained, making it educational. It was also made clear to us that maintaining the cave ecosystem was their priority and thus the rules. There is no electricity supply into the Cave. Therefore a handheld torchlight and a safety helmet are provided.
The Cave is in total darkness and Interestingly an estimated 200,000 bats roost on the cave ceiling and therefore the guideline was to keep our lights to the eye level and below in order not to disturb the bats. Few minutes into the hike you’ll notice that the concrete walkway can be extremely slippery. However, there is signage placed to indicate caution and the guides constantly remind you of the slithery paths. Home to a diverse range of fauna, you will see creepy-crawlies that have evolved to survive within the cave ecosystem. If you think crickets, centipedes and spiders in a natural environment is scary, you should see the versions grown in the cave environment. Thankfully, they are as afraid of you as you are of them, leaving you alone.
As you walk further, you’ll lay sight on the fascinating icicle-shaped formations that hang from the ceiling of the cave (Stalactite) produced due to the downrush of the water dripping for over millions of years. These limestones are formed exceptionally slowly, usually less than 10 cm every thousand years. Of course, you are not allowed to touch these structures as you can contaminate them and affect their future formation. As tempting as it can be to wander off the main concrete path to discover the insides of other structures, its best to stick to the advised trail for safety and environmental reasons. There are certain points where you can feel the breeze deep within the cave which is caused by natural ventilation, even though the light has trouble entering here, the air seems to have found its way.
My favorite part of the stint was the time when the guide asked us to switch off all electronic devices including the torch to remain in complete silence and darkness. The first few seconds were extremely distracting with ongoing thoughts of being attacked in the dark or pondering over the next set of Itinerary. For the first time in my life, I was in a darkened space such as this, perhaps literally! The stillness of the silence was so powerful that one could hear their heartbeat. I could see why the sages and monks preferred the caves for meditation. The sooner I surrendered to the grim of the cave, the brightness of the Sun was never the same again.
The adventure concludes at a collapsed cave site where sunlight illuminates this part of the cave. What a magnificent sight it is! A beam of ray making its way through the dark cave, projecting light and life is remarkable and mind you; it happens to be natural. This sight alone makes it worth the time. And, because of that, this section has become the Photoshoot point for all, go on, snap as many as you’d like without any restrictions. The Dark Cave was not always this well-preserved. At the outset some of the cave entrances were used as shelters by the indigenous Malay tribes and decades ago, the Cave was open to all to explore without any guided tours, and there was considerable damage to some of the cave walls regarding graffiti. You can notice them on your way back to where the course started.
Upon the end of the quest, I felt like I had embarked an ultimate travel experience and if I had to sum it up in a few words of other geniuses, “In even the darkest of places, there is light; and in the evilest of minds, there is brilliance.”
Terima Kasih (Malay for Thank you)
Travel Related information
Price - 35 Ringgits (650 INR Approx)
Travel - By Taxi, Bus and Train. (From city center)
Timings - Open on all days except Monday between 10:00 am - 5:00 Pm
For more information find the official website below,
Picture Courtesy: @flohwithme