Lex Petros: March 2007

Sunday, March 11, 2007

Batu Caves

(Statue of Lord Murugan by the entrance to the Caves. 47.2 meters/ 156 feet)

Once again, Cheryl and I set out to a place to home in on our photography skills. Me, being quite an over-thinking novice at this would need to practise (Yes, I acquired a SLR about 2 weeks back, but that shall be the subject of another posting, which I had planned on doing, but was too lazy to start). Thanks to Cheryl, the day turned out to be quite a fruitful one...what more with lenses loaned by Yee Boon. I used the Canon EF 17-20mm f/2.8 USM lens whilst Cheryl got YB's Canon EF 24-105mm f/4.0L IS lens. Had no idea how to use a telephoto lens, but then again, one has to embrace new challenges...right...

So, Batu Caves was the pick. The caves are the sacred place for the Hindus in Malaysia. Once a year, the Hindu's celebrate the Thaipusam festival. As many as 800,000 devotees and other visitors may throng the caves. As a form of penance or sacrifice, many of them carry kavadis (literally, "burden," such as a pitcher or jug). These are large, brightly decorated frameworks, usually combined with various metal hooks and skewers which are used to pierce the skin, cheeks and tongue.

After having a good serving of mee goreng at the Amutha's near the caves, we made our way to the bottom of the steps leading up to the caves. Cheryl was in doubt that I could make it up the 272 steps with the 70-200mm lens on and my fitness level. Well, Miss Lim, I proved you wrong didn't I *grin*. On the way up, several simian primates were seen frolicking on the steps and feeding off visitor's generosity. Monkey business I suppose. *he he*. The outer walls of the mouth of the caves are decorated with statuettes of Hindu deities, but the most popular one of all, Lord Murugan became my subject on photographic interest.

The main cavern
There are temples outside and inside the caves. The cavern's height is about 150 feet and there are a couple of temples for devotees to seek blessing from the priets. Cheryl did tell me to take off my shoes if I wanted to observe the rituals closer, but I was too aprehensive to be near. So, I decided to shoot from a comfortable distance. The place is so much better lit than I remembered many moons ago. No pungent smell of bat guano although the place was a little damp and quite humid. I was sweating buckets.

Batu Caves at nite

The day drew to a close about 7 nish. I was tired, sticky and hungry. So, we took off and headed back to PJ for dinner.