Holy flip! What the hell did they do to this temple?
Tourists love it but the Malaysian heritage department takes a dim view of the dazzling new decor
A famed Malaysian Hindu temple complex has had its steps painted in a dazzling array of colours, sparking excitement from visitors but angering officials who oversee heritage sites.
The Batu Caves complex, a series of caverns set in a limestone hill on the outskirts of Kuala Lumpur, is popular with devotees from Malaysia’s ethnic Indian minority and tourists, with a regular stream of people climbing the 272 steps to the temples.
The steps have been painted in a kaleidoscope of bright colours ahead of Friday's Hindu ritual that is conducted in temples every 12 years.But the temple management committee finds itself in hot water with the government heritage department, after allegedly failing to seek permission to paint the steps.
The committee will receive a warning letter from the department, while Deputy Culture Minister Muhammad Bakhtiar Wan Chik said he was “very disappointed” because the work had disturbed the harmony, integrity and originality of Batu Caves, the Star newspaper reported.
He played down the possibility of the complex losing its heritage status, but urged others running historic sites to obtain consent before carrying out major work or renovations.
On the other hand, the paint job on the steps, which used to be the colour as the limestone hillside, has impressed tourists.
Before the paint jobRatna Yunita from Indonesia described it as “out of the ordinary”.
“So many colours, so many people in such a beautiful place, it feels like you're in India, not in Malaysia,” she said.
The Batu Caves is an important religious site for Tamil Hindus. During the annual Thaipusam festival huge crowds of devotees descend on the complex, with many piercing their bodies with hooks and skewers to demonstrate devotion to the deity Lord Murugan.
Most of Malaysia's roughly 32 million people are Muslim, but the country also has about two million ethnic Indians and nearly seven million ethnic Chinese.