Pura Goa Lawah – Indonesia - Atlas Obscura

Pura Goa Lawah

This sacred cave temple is home to thousands of bats and according to legend, a giant snake king. 


One of nine sacred temples on the island of Bali, the cave temple known as Pura Goa Lawah is home to thousands of bats, but if local legend is to be believed, it also hides a river of healing waters and a titanic snake wearing a crown.

Believed to have been created sometime around 1007 by an Indonesian saint, the ancient temple structures built around the cave entrance are still ministered to and provided with prayer on a daily basis. While the site had no name when the temple was built, it gets its current title due to the thousands of bats that cling to the ceiling and walls of the natural chasm, “Goa” meaning “cave” and “Lawah” meaning “bat.” It is thought that the cave may extend all the way through the mountain right to a nearby town. Legend goes that the dark recesses of the tunnel are home to a mythical snake king known as Vasuki, a massive naga that wears a crown on his head. He is said to live on the copious amounts of bats in the cavern. Yet another legend claims that a river of miraculous healing waters rushes through the depths of the cave.

While the extent of the sacred cave has never been explored, stunningly intricate temple structures have been placed at the cave mouth, which are paid pilgrimage to on a daily basis in full view of the countless slumbering bats hanging around the rim. The Pura Goa Lawah is also host to a yearly festival where devout worshippers from all around come to pray at the mouth of this impressive bat cave.

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