These photos were taken in 2013, the last time we were in KL as a family. I had planned on this post being more informative about historic buildings, but as I looked through the photos I’d taken, it became more of a reminisce.
We’d always stayed with my parents each time we’d visited KL in the past, but this was the first time we’d been since my mum had passed, so we stayed in holiday apartments. It was in a part of KL the boys hadn’t seen much of, but was very well-located, with most things within easy walking distance. Even though a lot of time was spent visiting relatives, we still managed to make like tourists.
One of the places we’d passed many times but never visited even though it’s impossible to miss wherever you are in KL is the Petronas Towers. Standing at a height of 452 metres, they’re not the tallest buildings in the world, but they are the tallest twin structures. The 88-storey buildings are joined at the 41st and 42nd floors by a 58metre long Sky Bridge.
There’s a humungous shopping mall on the first few levels; also an art gallery and the Petronas Philharmonic Hall. The office spaces further up are mainly taken up by the corporate headquarters of the Petronas Offices and other companies.
There is a tour of the buildings available, but we’d decided against it as the waiting time for the next available slot was too long. Especially when we then found the biggest bookshop we’d ever seen – Kinokuniya! I was too gobsmacked to even think about taking photos. We could have happily spent a whole day there, at least. That’s already at the top of my places to visit next time we go to KL.
The one place we definitely wanted to visit was Batu Caves (‘batu’ meaning ‘stone’ in Malay). A system of limestone caves, we weren’t going caving or anything like that. Can you imagine me, crawling around caves?? No, we were going to see the temples.
I’d always wondered why these caves had been chosen as a place of worship. Turns out, an Indian trader who was considered the leader of the Tamil community, K. Thamboosamy Pillai, was inspired by the shape of the entrance of the main cave – apparently, it’s shaped like the pointy end of a spear, or ‘vel’, which is the weapon of one of the main Tamil deities, Murugan, younger brother of the elephant-headed god, Ganesha.
There are 3 main caves and a few smaller ones. The biggest cave is known as Cathedral Cave or Temple Cave; its ceiling is over 300ft high! There are temples built in and around the caves, with many shrines, the main one dedicated to Murugan.
This 140ft high statue of Murugan is at the foot of the caves and was unveiled in 2006.
There are also temples dedicated to Ganesha. In the Hindu religion, Ganesha is the remover of obstacles, so there is always a temple or shrine dedicated to him in every temple, even if it’s a small one, regardless of who the main temple is dedicated to.
If you want to see the shrines in the Temple Cave, you first have to negotiate a climb of 272 steps! I’ve managed them twice, puffing like a steam train, but I managed them.
One of the things we found especially enjoyable was the hordes of long-tailed macaque monkeys that have free roam of the place.
They’re not at all shy, and have worked out, over the years, that the orange plastic bags – and only the orange ones – that worshippers take up to the temple contain fruit and flowers (offerings for the gods), and they’re quite adept at snatching them from people. Most times, it’s not worth hanging on to the bag as these little simians can get loudly persistent, but they’ve never been known to attack anyone.
On our return journey on the LRT (Light Rail Transit, KL’s public rail transport service, which is a dirt-cheap way of getting around the city), I snapped a shot of this temple, locally known as the Scott Road Temple (guess which road it’s located on?) Its actual name is Sri Kandaswamy Kovil (‘kovil’ meaning ‘temple’ in Tamil).
Over a century old, it’s probably the most important temple for the Sri Lankan Tamil community. It’s also the temple where I got married.
These next 5 photos were taken in 2007, the year I went back for my mum’s memorial service, a year after she’d passed.
It was the first time I’d been to the Kuan Yin Temple, which was built in 1880. The architecture is gorgeous, and the phoenix and dragon symbols are found all around the temple.
This picture, taken from the upper level of the Kuan Yin Temple, shows the Petronas Towers and the other recognisable landmark, the KL Tower.
The KL Tower stands at 421 metres and its viewing deck is 276 metres high, giving a spectacular view of the city.
This next picture was taken (in 2013) from the KL Tower and shows the field that’s known as Merdeka Square (‘merdeka’ means ‘independent’ in Malay). The area is the focus for the yearly Independence Day parade on 31 August. The building with the copper-domed towers is the Sultan Abdul Samad Building and the Royal Selangor Club is on the other side of Merdeka Square.
The Sultan Abdul Samad building was built in 1897 and named after the reigning sultan of Selangor at the time. It used to house the law courts and I have to admit to not knowing what it’s used for now.
One thing I’ve always liked is the juxtaposition of the old and decaying, and the new. I don’t know if these buildings and others like it still exist, but I feel there’s a beauty to these buildings that you don’t find in most modern ones.
I’m glad I decided to share these memories and hope you enjoyed this little tour of my Malaysian birth town.