Batu Caves is said to be around 400 million years old. When the caves were in a pristine state before 1860, several of the 18 cave mouths were used by the indigenous Besisi people (also referred to as Orang Asli) as transit shelters when they went out hunting from their jungle hamlets.
Batu Caves is said to have been discovered by K. Thamboosamy Pillai, an Indian trader, in the 1800s. He was inspired by the 'vel'-shaped entrance of the main cave and was inspired to dedicate a temple to Lord Muruga located within the caves.
In 1891 Pillai, who also founded the Sri Mahamariamman Temple, Kuala Lumpur, installed the murti (consecrated statue) of Sri Subramania Swamy in what is today known as the Temple Cave. Since 1892, the Thaipusam festival in the Tamil month of Thai (which falls in late January/early February) has been celebrated there.
Wooden steps up to the Temple Cave were built in 1920. Of the various cave temples that comprise the site, the largest and best known is the Temple or Cathedral Cave, so named because it houses several Hindu shrines beneath its 100m vaulted ceiling.
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