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These rainbow-colored stairs have gone viral but it could be illegal

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These rainbow-colored stairs have become the talk of the town in Malaysia, dominating feeds on social media platforms and generating conversations, reported Travel Wire Asia (Hong Kong).

But the country’s National Heritage Registry (JWN) is not pleased.

The now colorful staircase is a permanent fixture at the iconic Batu Caves Temple, a limestone hill that has a series of caves and cave temples.

Dedicated to Lord Murugan, the philosopher-warrior god of Hinduism, Batu Caves Temple is one of the most popular Hindu shrines outside India.

As the focal point of Thaipusam, an annual Hindu ceremony to say thank you and show their appreciation to Lord Murugan, it attracts thousands of worshippers.

Both locals and tourists alike would throng the must-see destination on the daily, making the trek up the steep flight of 272 steps to the temple.

Batu Caves is also a hit with adventure travelers as it is the center of rock climbing development in the country for the past decade, with more than 160 climbing routes around its sides.

Although the caves are said to be around 400 million years old and a sacred landmark for Hindu devotees, it could not qualify for the Unesco World Heritage List.

According to StarMetro, citing a spokesperson from JWN, some of the structures are not in harmony with its surroundings.

However, some lots at the Batu Caves Temple, including the compound where the yearly Thaipusam festival takes place and the temple at the top of the staircase had been designated a heritage site by JWN.

Thus, any form of development or renovation requires prior approval from JWN as per Section 40 of the National Heritage Act 2005.

JWN conservators have expressed their displeasure over the multi-million ringgit painting of the steps, which were not sanctioned by them.

“I was told that in accordance with the Act’s Section 40 requirements, the temple management must refer to the department to identify best conservation methods when there is any development or renovation work done in close proximity to a national heritage site,” activist and Sentosa assemblyman G. Gunaraj told StarMetro.

“This is to ensure the integrity and legacy of the heritage structure is maintained.”

Gunaraj said the paintwork was a “disaster” for the heritage site as it was not in harmony with the surroundings, adding that it could be removed from the country’s National Heritage list.

“They are disappointed that efforts to get the temple listed as a heritage site might have been in vain, as the paint job could lead to the temple being delisted,” he explained.

Meanwhile, Batu Caves Sri Mahamariamman Temple Devasthanam committee chairman Tan Sri Nadarajah has insisted they had the necessary approvals to proceed with the renovations.

“Since we are not constructing any new building, we did not need to seek approval from JWN,” he said, adding that the colorful steps would “attract more tourists to visit the site”.

Yet, MPS corporate affairs deputy director Ahmad Fauzi Ishak said there was no record of any approval given for any works in Batu Caves in a long time.

“In fact, we are still waiting for the documents and corresponding technical reports required to legalize the structures and buildings in and around Batu Caves, which has been going on for the last five years,” he said.

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