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If you've ever been to the Batu Caves just outside Kuala Lumpur in Malaysia, you'll know how important the site is for tourists and traditionalists. The Batu Caves complex has the Sri Subramaniar Swamy Temple, for which visitors and tourists need to clamber up 272 steps. However, according to reports from the country, thanks to a new technicolour pain job of the steps, the popular site maybe in danger of being delisted as a National Heritage Site.
The steps which are usually the same limestone colour as the hillside in which it's located, have been painted in bright colours ahead of a festival which is held every 12 years. While the colours have drawn praise from tourists and social media users; it has angered officials who oversee such heritage sites in the country. All renovations need to be carried out with prior authorisation from the National Heritage Department (JWN), as required under Section 40 of the National Heritage Act 2005.
The temple management committee will receive a warning letter from the department, while Deputy Culture Minister Muhammad Bakhtiar Wan Chik said he was "very disappointed" and the work had "disturbed the harmony, integrity and originality of Batu Caves", the Star newspaper reported.
While the minister played down the possibility of the complex losing its heritage status, he urged others running historic sites to get consent before carrying out major work or renovations.
The Batu Caves are an important religious site for Tamil Hindus. During the annual Thaipusam festival, massive crowds of devotees descend on the complex, with many piercing their bodies with hooks and skewers to showcase devotion to the deity Lord Murugan.
Most of Malaysia's roughly 32 million people are Muslim, but the country also has around two million ethnic Indians and nearly seven million ethnic Chinese.
(With inputs from PTI)
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