Nusa Lembongan, Gala Gala Underground House

Nusa Lembongan,  Gala Gala Underground House


One of the most unique attractions on Nusa Lembongan Island is the underground house. Owned by Made Byasa, the house was built underground using only a hammer, chisel and intuition as guidance. It took 15 years to complete this incredible labyrinth, which includes a bedroom, dining room, kitchen, bathroom and sacred meditation room. Gala Gala underground house is located down a small lane off the main road and it wide enough for motorbike access. Leading up to the entrance of this unique compound there is a collection of art stalls selling an array of local souvenirs such as shorts, sarongs and handicrafts. Upon entering the compound you will see a notice board explaining the concept of Gala Gala along with a photo of the creator, Made Byasa. Today the site is managed by the direct descendants of this visionary man and features a rest room and stall for refreshments and souvenirs. Within the compound there is a small shrine, a sacred Banyan tree and a well. There are also two ventilation outlets that replenish the circulation of air in the underground caverns. A token donation is required for the mandatory use of a sarong and sash to be worn inside the compound. Gala – Gala Underground House (Notice Board) The underground house is a cave that was built by Made Byasa. The area of the cave is about 5 hundred square meters under the ground. Made Byasa in his daily life was a farmer; he was a dancer, Mangku Dalang (Puppet Shadow Performer) priest as well. From his profession as a dalang he often read Hindu Epics. One of the Hindu Epics that gave him great inspiration was Mahabarata, especially the episode “Wana Parwa”. It tells the Pandawas life of being banished to the forest for 12 years, because of gambling loses with Korawas. For 12 years the Pandawas were challenged by living their life in the forest. The Pandawas felt unsafe and thought that the Korawas were out to kill their family. But they found a way to protect the family by building a cave. This cave was called “Gala-Gala”. From this episode Made Byasa became interested in the Pandawas life during isolation. From reading this episode Made Byasa was inspired to build his cave. Made Byasa built his cave in 1961 and finished in 1976. The name “Gala-Gala” became well known to the local people. At the age of 75 years Made Byasa struggled to create his desire without tiredness during the day on at night. “Gala-Gala” cave consists of seven entrances. There is ventilation and the cave is complete with a well, two kitchens, a sitting room, two bedroom and bathroom. There is also a relief that indicates the completion of the cave. There are manmade symbols of an elephant, gate and turtle which in the Hindu calendar (Tahun Caka) has the following meaning – human: 1, elephant: 8, gate: 9, turtle: 8. Combined this is 1898, which is the Hindu calendar year of 1976.

Lawah cave, Goa Lawah, Bat Cave

Lawah cave, Goa Lawah, Bat Cave

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Places of interest :: Goa Lawah is one of tourist places and destination in Bali, Goa Lawah is a cave in which the walls vibrate with thousands of bats, below is the information.

Goa Lawah is Located nine kilometers from Klungkung, located near of hilly bank so it is called reef of Middle hill. This cave is located in Pasinggahan countryside, Dawan sub district, Klungkung Regency, east part of Bali and about 1,5 hours from Denpasar Town. Meanwhile the main road from Klungkung to Amlapura is just in front of the temple. This cave is apposite to the beautiful beach with black sand along the coastal area. Goa Lawah is a cave in which the walls vibrate with thousands of bats, the Bat Cave name comes from the fact that this well-built blessed complex rises right facing a cave where factually thousands of bats hang serenely from its walls, slumbering until the time comes to take off in fight, normally at night, to go look for good.

Pursuant to the papyrus of Dwi Jendra Tattwa, the Gua Lawah’s name is Gua Lelawah, the name which is given by Danghyang Nirartha (a priest overspread the Hindu teaching in Bali) when he stop in this place on his Tirtha Yatra trips. He arrive at a cave which is a lot of bats hang on and its unbroken voice clamor as hymn to add the beauty of the cave. Therefore this cave is named by Gua Lawah/Bat Cave. On the above cave is growth by the flower trees with it’s smelt fragrance and stimulus the peace mind of Danghyang Nirartha, so that he overnight stay for some nights in this place. From the cave we see also the beautiful coast with the blue ocean with Nusa Penida Island as a backdrop.
The cave is part of a temple that is said to lead all the way to Besakih but it’s unlikely that anyone would be interested in investigating.

Gajah cave, Goa Gajah

Gajah cave, Goa Gajah

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Welcome to Gua Gajah (Elephant Cave) which is located in west side of Bedulu countryside, Blah Batuh Sub district and Gianyar Regency. It is about 27 km from Denpasar town. This cave is built at crevasse edge from the federation of 2 rills that is called Pangkung River , where the irrigation is mixed with Petanu River flow. The federation area of two rivers is called Campuhan/Mixture. It owns the magical energy on the basis of Rwabineda Concept/two different matters on this basic concept hence Gua Gajah (Elephant Cave) is intentionally built among two rivers.

The word of Gua Gajah is anticipated coming from the word of Lwa Gajah, the name of Buddhist Temple or hermitage for Buddhist monk. The Gua Gajah’s name is written on Negarakeertagama papyrus which is compiled by Mpu Prapanca on 1365 M. Lwa or Lwah/loh mean the river and it reflect to the meaning that the hermitage is located at Gajah River or in Air Gajah. In the year inscription 944 Saka, it is mentioned with the name of ‘ser ring Air Gajah’ that is meaning the Subak leader in Air Gajah. The word has mentioned that the hermitage of Lwa Gajah is located in Subak Air Gajah.


Karangsari cave , Goa Karangsari

Karangsari cave , Goa Karangsari Nusa penida


Bali is home to hundreds of temples, each with their own peculiarity. The Goa Giri Putri temple in Karangsari village on Nusa Penida island is one such exceptional temple, as it is located inside a cave.

From the temple’s entrance gate visitors must climb hundreds of steps. After the last step, the pelinggih (shrine) of Hyang Tri Purusha and Hyang Gana Pati can been seen right in front of the very small entrance to the cave. People must enter the cave in turns as only one person at a time can pass through the narrow mouth to the cave.

“Although it seems like a very small entrance, it always accommodates everybody, no matter how slim or chubby,” said Made Dwipa, a native from Buleleng who has twice visited the temple. After entering the cave, visitors must crawl through a two-meter long, 60-centimeter-high tunnel leading to a much wider cave with a diameter of around 60 meters that could accommodate around 5,000 people.

Surprisingly, it is not dark in the cave as lights have already been installed. The cave was connected to an electricity source about six years ago.

Occasionally, water drips from the walls of the cave. There are some pelinggih in the main cave, which is almost 300 meters long. Visitors can see a pelinggih in the shape of a dragon with golden scales. This is the pelinggih of Hyang Sapta Patala in the embodiment of Naga Basuki. Next to the pelinggih is a lingga yoni symbol formed by natural stalactites and stalagmites.

“We believe that Hyang Naga Basuki is the manifestation of god as a helper, savior and a bearer of blessings,” the temple priest, Mangku Ketut Darma, said.

We can also find other pelinggih with their own unique features, including the pelinggih for Dewi Gangga, Dewi Uma, and Giri Putri.

Near the exit, an altar is dedicated to the Buddhist goddess Dewi Kwan Im, the goddess of mercy and compassion. Kwan Im is regarded as the deity that all individuals, regardless of their religion, can pray to for relieve from suffering. “The Balinese religion is a Siva-Buddha tradition intertwined with the beliefs, rituals and deities of both Hinduism and Buddhism,” Mangku Darma said.

Darma explained that the Goa Giri Putri cave was found by the local residents a few decades ago. The cave has welcomed visitors from all over the world, including overseas spiritual leaders.

Menstruating women and those mourning the death of a family member are not allowed to enter the cave, which does not charge an entrance fee to visitors.

The Goa Giri Putri temple is located near the coastline of Karangsari village in Nusa Penida, southeast of Bali. Nusa Penida can be reached by ferries from Padangbai port in Karangasem regency; traditional wooden boats (jukung) from ports in Sanur and Kusamba; as well as luxurious modes of transport such as a rented speedboat from Padangbai or Sanur ports and the high-speed luxury cruise ship from Tanjung Benoa.

From the sea port in Nusa Penida, Goa Giri Putri temple can be accessed by a local car sporting a special design. The car is a pick-up truck modified with two benches and a roof.

Maya Denawa cave, Goa Maya Denawa

Maya Denawa cave, Goa Maya Denawa


Throughout the centuries caves on Bali have been used by yogis, hermits, shamans, sages, priests, and royalty to meditate, pray and to be spiritually reborn. Ketut Sunarta says that he meditates everyday for one hour inside of Goa Maya. “You stay there for one hour, sealed in the darkness, listening to your own breath and the spirits begin to speak to you.” There are many caves on Bali. In this two part article we will explore Goa Maya in Bayad, Goa Lawah in Kusamba, Goa Gajah in Bedulu, Goa Giri Putri on Nusa Penida, and Silyuti in Padangbai. Ketut is the general manager of Bali Eco Adventure Resort. Goa Maya is located on the land that the resort, Bayad community and the surrounding rice farmers cooperatively steward. The cave, near the Petanu River 15km north of Ubud, is at the center of a serpentine matrix of tunnels originally dug as irrigation canals. Three years ago, Peter Studer the Swiss proprietor of Bali Eco Adventure Resort, rediscovered Goa Maya when he and Ketut arrived at a crevice shaped opening in the mountain. Peter asked Ketut, who grew up in a nearby village, if this was the opening to the ‘dangerous’ cave he had been hearing about. The cave had a reputation for being dangerous because it and the network of irrigation tunnels served as hide outs for the Balinese during the Dutch, Japanese and Communist occupations. Ketut warned Peter not to go into the cave at which point Peter promptly slipped through the crevice and into the mountain. Peter crawled on his hands and knees, along with spiders, snakes and squeaking bats until he came into the perfectly round room that is Goa Maya. He called for Ketut to follow. Reluctantly, Ketut crawled in. “I was afraid, but I went inside. The moment I arrived at Goa Maya I began to remember the stories my grandparents told me about the history of the cave.” In the 11th century the kingdom of Bedulu was ruled by an evil king, Maya Denawa. His subjects grew weary of oppression and called up Indra-the lord of heaven and of goodness-and Siwa-the godhead and the god of immortality-to help overthrow Maya Denawa. Their prayers were answered, the king was killed and his blood flowed into the Petanu River. No one wants to drink bloody water and the people needed to find a fresh water source for ingestion and irrigation. A spring was discovered flowing from a mountain into the river. Ida Pedanda Griya Sakh Manawatla, a priest, was walking along the Petanu River when the men were digging irrigation tunnels. Ida instantly experienced a profound power from the mountain and commanded the diggers to dig into the center of the mountain. It was here that the men carved a sacred space that the priest named Goa Maya: The Hidden Cave. Today the original crevice is still the entry point. It is very narrow, yet opens up into a tunnel. Bali Eco Adventure Resort and the community of Bayad expanded the tunnels to allow for ease in walking the 1000 meter serpentine path into Goa Maya. Flashlights are provided, as the tunnels are pitch black. A few bats hang out, yet there is a noticeable absence of spiders and snakes. Daily, locals feed the spirits of the tunnels and the Hidden Cave with offerings. Full moon ceremonies are celebrated in this sacred chamber that comfortably sits ten people. The moment I entered Goa Maya I felt my heart open. As I circled around the temple to look at the sandstone statues of Siwa, Indra and Maya Denawa (all carved by Ketut) I began to comprehend my heart opening: The presence of Maya Denawa, the evil king. The Balinese honor the light with the dark. Evil, or those rejected parts of us that have separated from the light of our Being simply exists. The dark is not separate; rather the light is contained within the dark. This is one reason why for centuries caves have been revered as sacred spaces in many cultures. Encased in complete darkness, embraced by the earth a yogi is able to safely face hidden fears to be reborn into en-lightened Awareness. When fears fall away the heart opens and our ‘little light inside’ shines forth. Goa Lawah or ‘Bat Cave’ is revered by the Balinese as a temple that personifies the transformative power of a cave. The Balinese believe Goa Lawah is a vehicle to transport a deceased family member’s soul into deification. The cave, located near the beach south of Padangbai, was discovered by a wandering Javanese sage, Mpu Kuturan. He is also credited with developing the temple complex around the cave. The cave is the home of thousands of tiny fruit bats. In many cultures the bat is recognized as a symbol of death into rebirth. Bats indicate it is time to face fears and to die to what no longer serves us and be reborn into a new identity. In the United States I visited a 2km long cave that was all about bats. The National Park department stewards their cave home, closing the cave during mating season and only allowing a few visitors inside of the cave the remaining time. They want to ensure the survival of this particular species of bat and preserve the natural growth of the cave. From that cave I surmised that bats need to live in an enclosed, dark place. Goa Lawah deleted this summation. Goa Lawah is a shallow cave, with the bats clinging to the rock that forms the open face of the cave. A fence stands in front of it and visitors are allowed to view the bats as if they are in a zoo. It is forbidden to actually enter into the cave, thus ensuring the preservation and sacred, natural interdependent relationship of the cave with the bats. The entire cave face is plastered with bats happily hanging upside down. Some bats are sleeping, others are rapturously copulating and many seem to be chatting about the coming night’s hunt. The ancient Balinese Lontar (scripture) Babad Dalem states that Goa Lawah is a potent place for purification and spiritual awakening because of its location with the mountains, the sea…and of course the spiritual guidance of the bats. Goa Lawah invites us to contemplate the awareness of the cycle of death and rebirth in our own lives. Goa Gaja is an animal of a different size. This cave near Ubud in the village of Bedulu is known as Elephant Cave, although it looks nothing like an elephant. The origins of its name are not known. In the rock that is the face of the cave is carved a delightfully looking demonic face. Its large eyes are looking west, to the demon’s right. Underneath the ‘cheek’ are five thick fingers. Goa Gaja is an ancient site and designated a UNESCO World Heritage site in 1995. The statue of the primordial earth mother of Tibet, known in Mahayana Buddhism as Harati Ajima resides near the cave to ensure abundance and protection. This and other relics date back to the 8th century. Records also show that Goa Gaja was used by a Buddhist hermit in the 900’s. I ascertain its elephant nature derives from the shape of the cave: We enter through a short, tunnel…the trunk of the elephant. The trunk opens up into a small rectangular room-the body of the elephant. Although Goa Gaja is now a popular attraction for busses to deposit tourists, this ancient site retains a profound, sacred power. The cave contains a shrine with Ganesha, three black Siwa lingams and a middle shrine whose details have eroded back into the stone from which it is carved. Six rectangle shaped meditation chambers line the cave. I lift myself up into one of the chambers and notice that the edge is smooth and round, indicating a number of people have lifted themselves up to sit in this meditation chamber throughout the years. I drop into meditation as tourists continue to travel through the body of the elephant. The average length of stay: Enough time to see…smile…snap! When the cave is empty of travelers I observe its natural allowing nature. This sacred chamber seemingly refuses to retain the energetic imprints of the tourists and myself. Its presence is truly open and accommodating to all that arrive. Walking beyond the bathing pool, the waterfalls and the Balinese temple the trail arrives at a second cave. The mouth of this cave is wide with a narrow tunnel leading into the mountain. The tunnel is too narrow for a human body to pass. In the front of the cave sits a natural shaped Siwa lingam (divine masculine) stone set into a yoni (divine feminine) composed of a circle of rocks. In front of this sits a barely recognizable statue of an ancient yogi. Few tourists stop at this cave and I take the opportunity to retreat as far back into the tunnel as possible to meditate. The energy joyfully dances around me, rushing in from the back of the tunnel. Although the space is tightly closed, a feeling of spaciousness surrounds me. I feel a presence next to me and open my eyes to see only the statue and cave opening. The photographs taken from this vantage point are populated with pure white orbs. Many people say these orbs are the presence of the spirits of the cave. The sacred caves of Bali invite us into the spirit of adventure and to explore our awareness of the Spirit in matter. Om Swastyastu To experience Goa Maya contact: Bali Eco Adventure and Resort: To contact the writer: