Tag Archives: Hindu

How to do a day trip to Batu Caves from Kuala Lumpur

By Lakshmi:

Who?  If you are visiting Kuala Lumpur and have a half day to spare to visit a Hindu temple ensconced among limestone rock formations.

What? Batu Caves is located about 13 kilometres from Kuala Lumpur.

How? We did a half day excursion with a local tour company.  Many of them including Viator offer half day tours which may combine visits to a pewter factory, a Chinese temple or other local attractions.

The Viator tour costs from $34.66 per person and more details can be found here.

http://www.viator.com/tours/Kuala-Lumpur/Batu-Caves-and-Temple-Tour-from-Kuala-Lumpur/d335-3705KUL11

You can also take the train directly from KL central to the caves, which is a very economical option.

Why?  As a Hindu, it is not surprising that during our trip to KL, a visit to Batu Caves was a must do on our list.  We had heard that it was a century old temple dedicated to Lord Murugan and it was unlike any other temple that we might have visited.  That was enough information for us to sign up for an afternoon tour.  After partaking in a heavy, scrumptious lunch, we got in our mini bus enroute to the shrine.

Upon arriving at the ordained spot, we immediately realized that eating a big lunch was a mistake.  Before us stood 272 steep steps that we had to ascend to make our way to the caves that housed the shrine.  Off we trotted, somewhat slowly and sluggishly, wishing we had eaten lighter.  As we made our way to the top, we had playful monkeys on both sides, some seemingly chiding us for not being as quick footed as them!

Once we got to the top, we entered the caves where there were multiple shrines with devotees and priests offering prayers.  After paying obeisance to the Gods, we spent time looking at the limestone formations surrounding us.  It was one of the more surreal moments of prayer at a spot where the transformation of nature over the ages converged with the presence of an omnipresent force.

Discovering Judaism In India – Is That Possible?

By Lakshmi:

As a little girl growing up in India, we never once questioned the ability of multiple ethnicities to coexist in one land. I went to Catholic schools, my best friend was Muslim and my family doctor was Jewish.  While there were plenty of  Christians, Hindus and Muslims around, except for my family doctor and her holidays, our exposure to Judaism was  minimal.  And then there was a discovery.  The state where my parents hailed from (Kerala) housed India’s oldest synagogue and one of the oldest known Jewish communities.  And slowly the awareness settled in.  The first community arrived in India 2,500 years ago.  They settled in Cochin in the southern state of Kerala and gradually more settlers arrived spreading their wings to different parts of the country.  A few months ago, I was walking around in Pune in western India and noticed a large synagogue.  It was old and beautiful and I discovered that it was the largest one in Asia.  Suddenly the linkages between Judaism and India were appearing more commonly before my eyes…was it the awareness that I was developing or simply more interest on a rather forgotten community?

This morning, the New York Times carried a lovely piece on Passover in India.  It was a lovely read and I thought it would be a great opportunity to bring our readers this little unknown slice of India.

“A Seder Spiced with Indian flavors” is a journey into how tradition and local cuisine have melded to create a one of a kind culture and history.

http://www.nytimes.com/2013/03/13/dining/a-seder-spiced-with-flavors-from-india.html?_r=0

Conde Nast Traveller’s writing competition last year had a winner reporting on the “Jewish Settlements in India”. This is a lovely journey of visuals and words providing a sometimes sad/other times funny look at this community.

http://www.cntraveller.in/content/travel-writing-competition-traces-jerusalem

For those curious about how these synagogues might look like a world away, the following link provides beautiful photographs inside and outside some of these major places of worship.

http://www.jewishvirtuallibrary.org/jsource/Judaism/synindia.html

If you happen to be in India and want to get a hands on orientation, here are a couple of tour companies offering specialized day trips.  Just reading the summaries gives you a peek into a far away world!

http://www.mumbaimagic.com/jewish_heritage.htm

http://www.viator.com/India/Synagogue/d723

Have you visited any synagogues in India or know more about the local Jewish traditions?  We’d love to hear from you.