The Batu Caves tourist destination in Malaysia, revered as a sacred site by Hindus and known for hosting the annual Thaipusam festival, is poised for significant changes. The custodians of this ancient Hindu religious site in Malaysia plan to improve accessibility by installing an escalator as an option for visitors who are unable or unwilling to climb the 272 steps leading to the temple and sacred caves. Currently, the only way to reach the temple, which is located in a limestone cave, is to climb the 272 steps.
This initiative is also expected to set a record as the longest escalator in Asia after the Mid-Level Central escalator in Hong Kong (800m) and the Huangguan escalator in Chongqing, China (112m). Located a few miles north of downtown Kuala Lumpur, the site is estimated to be around 400 million years old and is easily recognizable by its towering rainbow staircase. Once built, the escalator is expected to become a prominent feature, attracting more visitors and worshippers to the temple.
Previously, tourists flocked to the Batu Caves in Malaysia to admire its famous rainbow staircase, which was painted in vibrant colors by the temple's organizing committee to draw more attention to the site. The 272 steps leading up to the limestone caves became a social media sensation after being adorned with striking blue, red, and orange colors in 2018.
The addition of the escalator is expected to significantly improve the accessibility of the site. In addition to the escalator installation plan, a multi-purpose hall worth about 35 million Malaysian ringgit (about US$7.5 million) will be built at Batu Caves after the Thaipusam festival ends on Jan. 25, 2024. However, temple committee chairman R. Nadarajah did not disclose the cost of the escalator construction.
It houses one of the most visited Hindu sites outside of India. The temple is dedicated to Murugan, the Hindu god of war. A magnificent 42.7-meter statue of the deity greets visitors at the entrance to the tourist complex.
Every day, thousands of tourists and Hindu pilgrims visit the caves and the temple, with the number of visitors expected to rise to around 1.6 million during the four-day Thaipusam period in 2023. The Thaipusam festival itself is held annually in the Tamil month of 'Thai', which falls around January or February.