Wednesday Walk: 272 Steps to Enlightenment
We travel with the choice of various modes: land, sea, or air. Although blasting to outer space via a rocketship is most probably the quickest way to transport you from point A to B, nothing is as relaxing, healthy, and stimulating as a simple stroll. Isn't it?
Walking provides you the opportunity to experience your surroundings with ease, slowly absorbing the interesting details that accompany the fleeting environment. The walk itself becomes a sensual feast, if you will.
Years ago while exploring Malaysia as a foreign tourist, I happen to enjoy a different kind of walk. Apart from the horizontal direction that we're all accustomed to, my feet were particularly restless and couldn't wait to walk upwards an enormous flight of stairs - a whopping 272 steps to be exact!
And nowhere else can this architectural marvel be discovered but in the Malaysian state of Selangor, approximately 12 kilometers (7.5 miles) north of its capital city of Kuala Lumpur.
However, this humongous staircase wasn't the only spectacle to witness there. Upon arrival, I was astonished to encounter more significant Hindu landmarks, temple caves, and the most striking of them all: a colossal statue of the Hindu god of war called Lord Murugan standing at 42.7 meters (140 feet). Mind-blowing!
If you were a new visitor like me, these spectacular works crafted by the hands of Tamil Malaysians simply couldn't be ignored because these structures visibly adorn the attraction's main entrance.
From a distance, the entire shrine rests against a majestic backdrop of lush greenery, limestone mountains, plus the ever-changing atmospheric drama of the sky.
Likewise, I learned from a friendly local that this spiritual complex is an emblematic demonstration of Dravidian architecture, a distinctive design signature encapsulated in South Indian temples. It was the first time I heard about the strange term "Dravidian", and was curious enough to know more about its essential characteristics.
Before ascending the staircase to the cave temple, you can already appreciate incredible examples of this architectural style right on the ground floor.
Colorfully vivid elements. Sculptural ornaments. Colonnaded pathways. Intricate carvings. Ornate towers with religious depictions. These were just a few of the most common features of this spectacular site.
Finally, the much-awaited moment has arrived!
And oh boy was I absolutely thrilled to commence this once-in-a-lifetime walk going up to the heavens!
1, 2, 3…I counted the steps as I embarked to the top, leading to the limestone cave that housed their principal Hindu temple.
120, 121, 122…I had to stop halfway towards the destination, catch my breath, and savor my immediate surroundings. The prevailing breeze caressed my skin with a cool embrace, assuring me that the climb was worthwhile and safe to continue. The breathtaking views of the panoramic landscapes from that vantage point were phenomenal.
265, 266, 267…almost there! From that elevation, I could see the dark mouth of the cave as it welcomed me with an air of mystery.
Defying the uncertainties of venturing into enclosed and dim spaces, I immediately stepped inside this gateway to feed my adventurous spirit. More importantly, I offered a short prayer as a sign of respect for the holy sanctum I was entering.
From there, you could also see the pronounced silhouette of the cave entrance when gazed from the interior. The bright daylight from the outside was nearly blinding, so I was careful not to stare too much at this cave portal.
And then all of a sudden, my eyes were shifted from a pitch-black enclosure to an area further away that was filled with intense lights and religious relics. It was the cave's core sanctuary where the Hindu deities were situated.
I took time in wandering around this inner vicinity where more sacred artifacts were displayed for the adoration, reverence of the faithful pilgrims, plus the amazement of tourists alike. The walk here was not as challenging as on the staircase though.
Moreover, some patches of the cave's ceiling also incorporated massive openings that revealed the sky above. I stood in awe as I noticed rays of light piercing through the porous cracks of limestone, helping to illuminate the dark chambers of the divine setting below.
The whole scenario offered me a sense of peace, calmness, and security. Despite being inside a seemingly gloomy abyss where fear was an automatic instinct, I sincerely felt that a supernatural presence was watching over me.
Was this spiritual paradise a source of enlightenment? I'm not sure about you, but for me, it was indeed!
Before I descended back to ground zero, I took a last look at the exquisite beauty of Earth's glorious caverns living in harmony with man-made feats. Sophisticated endeavors like this astounding project definitely make us fathom and deserve to be praised.
Wondering what's the name of this remarkable place? When traveling to Malaysia, don't forget to elevate your walks to new heights by visiting the famous Batu Caves!
Thanks a lot to @tattoodjay for creating the Wednesday Walk Community on Hive that celebrate captivating walks from around the world. More power!
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