Monkeying Around On The Steps of Batu Caves

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Batu Caves. Lord Murugan, in all his golden splendour, stands watch as visitors flock to pay their respects. Or to use that flight of stairs as a free stair stepper…

A myriad of bright colours await those who go to Batu Caves in Gombak, the country’s most well-known Hindu worship site that’s nestled within 400 million year-old limestone caves. In order to pay to your respects to supreme Hindu god Lord Murugan — whose towering, 140-feet tall gold statue greets visitors as they approach the entrance — you’ll have to brave a steep ascent of 272 steps. But it’s well worth the trouble.

In addition to the robust workout you get from climbing the stairs, you’ll be accompanied and entertained by a fair number of macaques who’ve long made their home at Batu Caves. Ambling about nimbly on all fours, the monkeys seem like they’re constantly on a mission. Unafraid of humans, they scamper up and down the stairs and banisters, stopping to feast on coconuts or eye things carried by humans. Some of the mama monkeys even have adorable baby macaques with them. Little arms are wrapped around Mama’s belly, clinging tightly for dear life as Mama and the rest of the clan clamber upwards to wherever they are headed.

While there are other very eye-catching things to photograph there, I wanted to zoom in onto these adorable monkeys who would surely charm even the cold-hearted — I saw a tough-looking man try to share his ice-cream with one spiky headed little macaque! Overall, the macaques are even-tempered and friendly towards humans. Be warned, however, this does not mean that this is a green light for you to touch, pet or annoy them in any way. Keep a safe distance, and no one gets hurt.

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A family of macaques make their way upwards, and towards home (I’m assuming.) See the last one? There’s a baby macaque clinging to its middle.

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Mama and baby. This was so incredible to see up-close!

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They seem to live off coconuts quite a bit. I don’t know if this monkey is a macaque, as its face looks hairier than the others.

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Look at this guy and that spiky tuft of hair on the top of his head!

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He seemed to like approaching humans, especially those with food. Further up the stairs, a man offered him an ice-cream which he sniffed and ran from. Later, he was offered Cola that he also sniffed at and rejected.

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Guess it’s back to coconuts after all. And actually, I just realised that I’m not sure if its a he or a she.

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16 Comments

  1. That’s so funny that the macaque rejected the coca cola – they are smarter than we give them credit for! When I visited the Batu caves, one of the monkeys grabbed my glasses right off my head. It happened so fast I didn’t even see it coming. But fortunately one of the local kids ran after it and got them back. A very interesting pilgrimage site for sure. Your photos are great.

  2. Truly adorable. I like that they just sit beside you on the stairs. They must be quite well behaved as I have seen others that will steal whatever you have in your hands including sunglasses, cameras, etc. I like that they are eating coconuts and not junk food. I have seen photos of this cave before and shrink at the sight of all those stairs!

  3. I didn’t know monkeys like to eat coconut! Another trait I share with them I guess hahah 😀

  4. The monkeys are so adorable! Those stairs look like quite a hike though.

  5. I have always found the Batu Caves fascinating. I didn’t know too much about the monkeys. They are adorable but I would be a little freaked out of them getting too close to me or my kids. Great photos and captures of these critters. Love the mama and baby ones.

    • I would be nervous too if I had kids with me or if I was wearing trinkets…but none bothered me during my visit so all was right. 🙂

  6. I would love to see the Batu Caves and the monkeys, even though I prefer observing them from a safe distance. In India we were warned against laughing, as a display of teeth could cause them to attack.

    • That’s pretty interesting to learn. In that case it would be best not to tell any funny jokes around the monkeys or else…

  7. This is my first time reading about Batu Caves, thanks for sharing. I have had a lot of interaction with those monkeys, however. I loved watching them on my trips to Sri Lanka.

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