Located seventeen kilometres from Kuala Lumpur (KL) city centre, the Gombak district borders KL to the southeast and Genting Highlands to the east. Most of Gombak is administered by the State of Selangor, with a small subset falling within the Federal Territory of KL.
Gombak is surrounded by forest reserves and limestone hills, offering a wealth of lush greenery, mountainous views, picturesque waterfalls and jungle streams. In Gombak, Klang Valley folks can escape the city’s busy streets for an unbeatable experience with nature.
Crystal clear waterfalls
A popular destination is Templer’s Park which consists of multi-tiered waterfalls, fishing spots and jungle trails. A 740-metre hill, named in honour of a former British High Commissioner of Malaya, the forest park offers activities like jungle hiking, bird-watching, picnicking, and dipping in the cool, refreshing pools under cascading waterfalls.
There are six waterfalls in Templer’s Park, and it takes approximately 1.5 hours to trek up through all six falls. Remember to wear leech socks and give yourself another 1.5 hours to get back to base. Don’t forget to monitor weather conditions closely, as the jungle trail follows the course of the river which can rise very quickly when it rains.
“I remember going on a teambuilding activity in Templer’s Park a couple of years ago,” management consultant Kian Ng reminisces. “We had a fantastic time trekking through the jungle and wading across the river, but I did get a few leeches on my ankles!”
Gombak also offers forest reserves that have paved trails for jogging and cycling, such as at the Forest Research Institute of Malaysia (FRIM) in Kepong. FRIM is a forest management research centre and botanical gardens which attracts a steady stream of weekenders who love to wander among towering dipterocarp trees, cycle on well-maintained trails and explore the traditional village houses set in its abundant rainforest.
The most famous attraction in Gombak – the Batu Caves temple complex - draws millions of people, from worshippers to tourists, every year. A series of caves set within a limestone hill, the Hindu temple was formally established as a “grand cathedral” in honour of the deity, Lord Murugan, and remains particularly lively during the colourful Thaipusam festival.
A popular cultural destination, thousands of visitors come to Batu Caves every day. Hindus come for prayers while tourists take photos of the tallest Lord Murugan statue in the world measuring 42.7 metres in height. Leading up to the temple cave complex is 272 steps, and during Thaipusam, devotees climb up these steep steps while carrying kavadi of milk pots or big steel frames balanced on their shoulders, held up and supported by metal hooks and spears piercing through the skin.
Nature is never far away in Gombak, and halfway up Batu Caves 272 steps is the Dark Cave, a conservation site managed by the Malaysian Nature Society. The Dark Cave consists of passages about 2km deep, in which there are cave formations of stalactite, stalagmite, cave pearls, cave curtains, columns and gour pools.
“Most people are not aware of the Dark Cave,” says photographer and naturalist, Hong Min, who explained that visitors can sign up for a tour at the entrance of the cave.
“I learnt that the Trapdoor Spider is said to be found only in Batu Caves,” he adds. “This spider species is about 300 million years old and is classified as a living fossil. How cool is that!”
As developments continue in and around the Klang Valley, Gombak remains blessed with its vast greenery throughout the district. With a location not too distant from the city centre and surrounding suburbs, and accessible via major highways and train services, urbanites are fortunate to have these forest reserves and parks within easy reach. When city life gets too pressured and busy, Gombak is unbeatable as a place to recharge and reconnect with nature.
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