Located on Bali’s south east coast, Bat Cave Temple (known locally as Pura Goa Lawah) is an ancient temple complex and popular tourist attraction approximately one hour’s drive north east of Denpasar. One of the most important temples in Bali, Bay Cave Temple is situated next to a unique black sand beach and is easily accessible right off the main road that leads to eastern Bali. A common sightseeing stop for visitors heading to east Bali, tourists and local worshippers pause to pray, give offerings and enjoy the views.
Established by Mpu Kuturan, a priest who laid the early foundations of Hinduism in Bali in the 11th century, the expansive temple complex is built around the entrance to a cave which, not surprisingly, is home to thousands of bats. The entrance is marked by two giant banyan trees which rise up majestically beside the main entrance. Bat Cave Temple and the surrounding complex are steeped in mystery and ancient mythology. The temple complex features bale pavilions where worshippers place fruit offerings. There is also a stunning antique shrine at the centre of the courtyard, which display dragon motifs that, according to Balinese culture, are said to keep the universe in balance.
Balinese culture revolves around spirits and mythology, which are intrinsically intertwined with their history. According to ancient legend, the cave has a pathway that leads all the way up to the Besakih temple in the north, nestled at the foot of Mount Agung. It’s said that a Mengwi prince discovered the pathway when he took refuge in the cave to hide from his enemies. Locals also believe that there are other pathways which connect to Tangkid Bangbang and Talibeng, however none of these claims have ever been proven.
Mornings are a great time to visit Bat Cave Temple as this will give you the opportunity to witness the many locals who come here for their morning prayer. Due to its popularity both as a tourist attraction and a holy place of worship, Bat Cave Temple is often busy however it’s easy access means you should not miss the opportunity to experience its beauty and magnificence. Afternoons are also a lovely time to visit as the weather is a little cooler and you can take advantage of the shady spots underneath the trees.
Hindus in Bali celebrate piodalan, the anniversary of their temples, which is based on the 210 day Balinese cycle calendar. To visit important temples such as Bat Cave Temple during piodalan is an amazing experience so be sure to check if an anniversary is scheduled while you are visiting. The temple is also surrounded by a number of little food and drink outlets and souvenir shops. The temple is open daily and costs 5,000 Rupiah (AU50c) entry plus mandatory rental of a sarong to show modesty and respect to priests and local worshippers.