Goa Lawah is one of Bali’s most important temples. It features a complex built around a cave opening that is inhabited by hordes of bats, and its name translates to ‘Bat Cave’. This temple was established in the 11th century by Mpu Kuturan, one of early priests who laid the foundations of Hinduism on the island. Goa Lawah is located in the village of Pesinggahan, Dawan district, bordering the Klungkung and Karangasem regencies. This landmark is one of the first stops on tours to Candidasa and further eastern regions within the Karangasem regency. The Goa Lawah Temple is a large complex on the north side of the Jalan Raya Goa Lawah main road. It is a stopover for holidaying locals who come in with offerings and do short prayers before continuing with their journey. For general visitors, it is an included itinerary on temple tours for photo opportunities together with refreshment breaks at the kiosks across the road on Goa Lawah Beach. You can see the outline of Nusa Penida Island on the horizon from here.
Two large banyan trees stand tall at the main entrance of Goa Lawah. Upon entering the temple’s central courtyard, you will see three bale pavilions in three corners of the complex. These bale are usually where fruit offerings are placed and where gamelan bands play during major ceremonies. At the centrepiece are age-old shrines which have withstood the hordes of nectar bats (Eonycteris spelaea) chirping in a frenzied din around and behind the shrines at the cave opening. Here is also a Shivaite shrine which has stood for thousands of years, together with a bale adorned with the motifs of Naga Basuki, the mythical dragon who is believed to keep the cosmos at a balance. Once a place for deep meditation for priests, despite seeming impossible to do so amid the chirping, with the hollow cave opening amplifying the noise. Yet, people believe the constant natural high pitches aided in their focus of thoughts.