Goa Lawah Temple is one of the most famous and revered Hindu temples in Bali and throughout Indonesia. It receives financial support not only from local residents but also at the state level. The temple is located in a very beautiful place on the eastern coast of the ocean in Klungkung.
According to scholars' estimates, the temple was built in the 11th century. Since then, it has reliably protected local residents from evil spirits.
This is an actively functioning temple. Almost daily ceremonies take place here, and at any time, you have a chance to attend one of them and see how everything unfolds. The temple is open to tourists, provided they do not disrupt the ceremonies and dress appropriately. Both men and women should cover their knees with a sarong, which can be rented at the entrance.
The main gem of the temple and its distinctive feature from other Hindu temples in Bali is the cave with bats. Right behind the altar, decorated in traditional Balinese style, clusters of bats hang from the ceiling and walls. There is a legend that the cave is so deep that it has an underground passage to the main temple of Bali - Pura Besakih. For the island's residents, bats are sacred creatures, so they prefer not to disturb them by not entering the cave unnecessarily.
Very few dare to enter the caves. The total length of the grottos and passages is unknown. Exploring it is not so simple due to the bats, of which there are tens, if not hundreds of thousands. At the slightest noise or light from flashlights, they start flying from wall to wall, emitting loud squeaks.
There is another interesting legend that a real dragon lives in the cave, guarding the local residents from evil spirits, and it should never be disturbed under any circumstances. In the early 20th century, a group of Dutch soldiers decided to explore the cave and find the dragon. They ventured deep inside, and the dragon became enraged. Out of fear, the soldiers opened fire on it with their rifles and fled. Not all of them made it out. Those who survived set up camp near the entrance to the cave. At night, local residents heard thunder and saw a bright flash in the area of the camp, but in the morning, they found nothing and no one there. Since then, locals leave baskets of fruits and food at the entrance to the cave daily, intended for the dragon and the bats.
Photography and videography are allowed in the temple provided that you do not disturb those who are praying, do not aim the cameras at their faces, and do not use flash when taking pictures of the bats.