Eight miles north of Kuala Lumpur, among spooky limestone caverns scaled by chattering monkeys, sits one of the most significant Hindu shrines outside of India. Each year in late January or early February, close to a million Hindu devotees set out from Sri Mahamariamman Temple in Kuala Lumpur’s Chinatown on a pilgrimage to the Batu Caves, a towering series of caverns dedicated to the Lord Murugan.
Officially discovered in 1878 by the American naturalist William Hornaday, the caves became a popular place of worship among Indian traders inspired by the spear-shaped entrance (Murugan, the lord of victory, carries a spear). Over time, thousands of Hindu statues and paintings were placed among the dark nooks and crannies of the cave complex — which can only be reached by climbing a flight of 272 steps — and a 140-foot gold statue of Murugan was added in 2006.
Though the caves are a popular year-round attraction, the late-winter Thaipusam Festival draws hundreds of thousands of Hindus from Malaysia as well as India, Australia and Singapore. Pilgrims adorned with racks of feathers and flowers, attached to their bodies by sharpened metal skewers, make the trek from Chinatown bearing the silver chariot of Lord Murugan. Attended by priests and chanting throngs, it’s a colorful procession not to be missed.
From Kuala Lumpur Sentral, take the KTM Komuter train to Batu Caves station. Or hire a round-trip taxi tour for about $45. Admission to the caves is free.
Alaska Airlines and American Airlines announced intentions to create an alliance. Benefits to passengers include access to more international destinations after Alaska joins the oneworld alliance in 2021, new service on American between Seattle (SEA) and Bangalore (BLR), new service on American between Seattle and London (LHR), a domestic codeshare expansion to include international routes from Los Angeles (LAX) and Seattle, and loyalty member benefits across both airlines. Loyalty members with additional lounge membership enjoy access to nearly 50 American Admirals Club lounges worldwide and seven Alaska lounges in the United States for same-day travel on American or Alaska flights.
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Looking for a truly unique travel experience and considering a new vehicle? The Volvo Overseas Delivery Program is the perfect solution to create your own adventure of a lifetime. Volvo allows you to custom order your new automobile tailored to fit your needs and desires. They will fly you to Sweden to pick up your Volvo so you can drive and explore Scandinavia and Europe on your terms for up to two weeks.
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The city took its name from Athena, goddess of wisdom, strategy and war, and protector of the city. The financial, political and administrative center of the country and an all-powerful city-state in antiquity, Athens is a major center of culture. A visit to the first-ever museum dedicated to Byzantium, a stroll around the National Garden and a trip to the Olympeion archaeological site will take you back through time.