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Batu Caves

Central region, Malaysia

Set in a karst hill in Gombak District, Selangor, the Batu Caves hosts a series of temples dedicated to the Hindu god Murugan. During Thaipusam in January, a million devotees walk from Kuala Lumpur to the Batu Caves to offer sacrifices.

A few take great pains to demonstrate their devotion, carrying containers of milk on frameworks called kavadi that are often attached to their bodies with metal hooks and skewers.

Visit the Batu Caves on a regular day, and the cave interiors’ grandeur easily comes into focus. A 42m-tall golden statue of Murugan stands at the foot of the colorful 272-step staircase that leads up to the massive Temple Cave, its cave walls lined with elaborate Hindu shrines.

For a fee, you can take a diversion into the Dark Cave: a two-kilometer undeveloped stretch that requires a helmet and headlamps to access. The cave complex is easy to reach from Kuala Lumpur by taxi or by train.