There is no doubt why Goa Lawah, the bat cave, has got this name. Thousands of noisy bats fill the air in and around the cave, with a sharp smell of bat droppings covering the ground in a thick layer.

Bali, Klungkung, Goa Lawah. The bat cave. A Shiva temple with shrines guards the entrance. (Photo Bjorn Grotting)
Bali, Klungkung, Goa Lawah. The bat cave. A Shiva temple with shrines guards the entrance. (Photo Bjorn Grotting)

It is also said that pythons live inside the cave, feeding on the bats. The entrance to the sacred cave is at the foot of a hill.

Bali, Klungkung, Goa Lawah. The bat cave. Some of the thousands of bats. A noisy and smelly place. (Photo Bjorn Grotting)
Bali, Klungkung, Goa Lawah. The bat cave. Some of the thousands of bats. A noisy and smelly place. (Photo Bjorn Grotting)

According to legends it continue all the way to the base of Gunung Agung via an underwater river, and surfaces inside the Pura Goa temple (the cave temple) within the Besakih temple complex, about 25 km away.

A legend describe how a prince of Mengwi once entered the cave and came out in Besakih, but later nobody has tried to repeat this journey.

Bali, Klungkung, Goa Lawah. The bat cave. The entrance to the cave is behind these temple buildings. (Photo Bjorn Grotting)
Bali, Klungkung, Goa Lawah. The bat cave. The entrance to the cave is behind these temple buildings. (Photo Bjorn Grotting)

Today it is not allowed to enter the cave, which may be fortunate. This is also home of Naga Basuki, the mythical and sacred dragon of the Agung mountain, caretaker of the earth’s equilibrium. He is honored with offerings in the temple outside the entrance.

A Shiva temple guards the entrance, with several shrines covered in bat droppings. Pura Goa Lawah is like Goa Gajah one of the oldest attractions on Bali, probably dating all the way back to 1007 AD, founded by the holy man Empu Kuturan. A meeting should have taken place here in 1904 where the princes of Bali made a plan to stop the Dutch invasion.

Bali, Klungkung, Goa Lawah. The bat cave. The temple buildings in front of the cave is of newer date. (Photo Bjorn Grotting)
Bali, Klungkung, Goa Lawah. The bat cave. The temple buildings in front of the cave is of newer date. (Photo Bjorn Grotting)

Pura Goa Lawah is one of the most important state temples on the island. The temple buildings in front of the cave is new, similar to other newer temples on Bali.

The site has undoubtedly become a tourist trap, with many souvenir stalls and very persistent hawkers. When you have fought your way through this you will see an interesting place, but probably not be able to hang around for long because of the smelly and noisy bats. After the visit you can have a relaxing walk on the beach just opposite the main road, with an excellent view towards Nusa Penida.

Bali, Klungkung, Goa Lawah. The bat cave. A Shiva temple with shrines guards the entrance. (Photo Bjorn Grotting)
Bali, Klungkung, Goa Lawah. The bat cave. A Shiva temple with shrines guards the entrance. (Photo Bjorn Grotting)

Goa Lawah is located along the main road on the south east coast of Bali, about 9 km east of Semarapura (Klungkung). This is an interesting road along the coast where you can enjoy hills, forests and rice fields.

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Bjørn Grøtting

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Photographer based in Norway. See a collection of my best photos in the portfolio. Licensing of images is done through Photoshelter or alamy.
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