Travelling to Goa Lawah Where Bats Reveal the Name of the Temple

By Helmi Laksono, student of Masters Program in Tourism Studies, Unud, 2016

Goa Lawah Temple.

Bali is famous for it’s nature and culture. Hinduist temples on the island  exist as tangible culture and also a symbol of harmonious relationship between human and God as well as nature.

There is no wonder, visitors can find some of the oldest trees growing  nearby the temples. They can also find temples reveal animal names, one of them is ‘Candi Goa Lawah’ (Bats Cave Temple) in Klungkung District.

Candi Goa Lawah

Throwing back to a last year study tour with 14 students of Indonesian German Joint curricullum Masters Program in Tourism Studies, Udayana University, 2016,  Goa Lawah is a part  of the uniqueness of Bali.

The name of ‘Goa Lawah’ refers to words ‘Goa’ which means cave and ‘Lawah’ which means ‘bats’. And it’s true, the temple is home for thousands of bats on the cave ceiling, above some pelinggih (altar) for Bathara Tengahing Segara, Mahesvara and Naga Basuki.

Bats Cave

According to I Putu Juliadi, pengayah volunteer of temple guard, the idea for the Goa Lawah came from Javanese origin of Mpu Kuturan and was realized during the 11th  century. The temple has been reconstructed three centuries later. Local people believe that the cave has connected along 30 km with ‘Goa Raja’ (King Cave) in Pura Besakih. Unfortunately, the earthquake has destroyed this connection in 1917.

Tri Hita Karana Concept

Besides being a Tourist attraction, Goa Lawah describes how the ‘Tri Hita Karana’ concept works. Thri Hita Karana  or Tri Ning Tri refers to three sources of prosperity, parahyangan (spiritual), pawongan (social), and palemahan (environtment). Parahyangan refers to the relationship between human and God. Putu Juliadi said the cave symbolize the head of ‘Naga Basuki’ and the ‘Goa Raja’ temple in Besakih is it’s tail.

The Hinduists believe that Naga Basuki is the guidance of harmony and therefore always prioritize this temple a worshiping place. “One day, there was a tourist violating  the temple rule. That tourist  ignored our warnings in reason he paid for it. Then, we returned the entrance ticket fee and let him go away from the temple,” Putu Juliadi said.

Daily offering.

The relationship between human and human or pawongan appears on how the locals help each other on religious ceremonial such as ‘Atma Wedana’ and ‘Nyegara Gunung’.  Controlled by pengayah, the natives look after the condition of the temple.

Palemahan or  harmony of relationship between human and nature is represented by  the existence of thousands of bats since  ten centuries ago. Locals regard them as a natural gift that must be conserved and strongly prohibited to kill.

I and other were surprised when the temple guide told that  we are lucky  because we saw about three phytons appearing in between the bats. Those phytons keep bats population  in balance.

American Next Top Model Photoshoot

This temple also throw me back to 2013, when Tyra Bank, founder of the realty show  American Next Top Model, decided to do a contestants photo session. All the contestants were surprised that one of the challenges to win the competition was to pose like  a bats.

Putu Juliadi said that realty show  made the temple much more known in the world.

Less than IDR 200k

I and other students reached the temple in about 1-2 hours from Denpasar. With budget less than Rp 200,000 per person, we could enjoy  a day trip including transport,  petrol, other additional nearest tourist attractions such as Taman Ujung and Virgin Beach,  the entrance fees, and driver.

This price is very valuable to  know more about the East of Bali and it’s uniqueness.

Edited by Yannick Frank (English teacher volunteer from Germany)