To the north of KL is a massive limestone outcrop containing a vast complex of mysterious caves, known generally as the Batu Caves. The lofty Main Cave has become a Hindu temple, with ornate and highly detailed portraits and elaborate statues of Hindu deities. Access to these awesome caves is via a steep flight of 272 steps.

Every year in January or February the Batu Caves become the focus of vast gathering of hundreds of thousands of Hindu devotees celebrating Thaipusam.

Thaipusam is a festival from Tamil Nadu associated with penance and atonement. Celebrations are carried out at important temples in Kuala Lumpur, Ipoh and Penang. From Sri Mahamariamman Temple (no I canít say it) in Kuala Lumpur devotees follow a silver chariot carrying the statue of Lord Muruga which wends its way through KL to arrive at Batu Caves.

To the uninitiated Thaipusam is a stunning, totally unexpected assault on the senses. Hair-raising sights of human bodies covered in hooks which anchor huge kavadis (ritualistic yokes) balanced on heads and cheeks pierced with small spears, wooden tongues and arrows. The most elaborate kavadis can weigh as much as 80 pounds, a platform ornately decorated with peacock feathers, Christmas decorations, even plastic dolls!
Vast throngs of Hindus visit Batu Caves each year to celebrate Thaipusam
Each kavadi bearer is accompanied by a team of "helpers" who cajole, goad and just plain bully the unfortunate bearer up the 272 steps to the Main Cave.    
What it's all about, the smoky interior of the main cave.



Then it's time to go back down again.

See you all again, next year.