Goa Giri Putri Temple in Nusa Penida

From its stunning cliffs, offshore rock formations, to crystal blue waters, Nusa Penida packs in lots of stunning vistas on its tiny surface area. Not all of the island’s attractions are outdoors though, with the northeastern cliffs hiding the unique Goa Giri Putri Temple inside.

Situated in a dark cave with a narrow entrance no bigger than a crawl space, this indoor temple presents a markedly different, but no less exhilarating, experience than the beaches of Nusa Penida.

Narrow entrance and crawl space that leads to a large inner sanctum

The name Goa Giri Putri roughly translates to “The Princess’s Hill Cave” and it’s meant to be a sign of respect to Hindu goddesses. We’ve no insight into the mind of deities but from its entrance atop a picturesque cliff that overlooks the ocean, we think whoever built the temple did a pretty good job.

goa giri putri temple - stairs
Make no mistake, the steps leading to the top of the cliff will knock the wind out of you
Image credit: @deksriwahyuni96

Reaching the top requires navigating hundreds of stairs which will do a number on your legs.

goa giri putri temple - peak
It’s recommended to take a breather at the top as you won’t get to breathe that fresh air for a while
Image credit: @kariswaruju90s

At the top, the temple’s caretaker will bathe and purify you with holy water sourced from the temple – this purification ritual is mandatory if you’d like to enter the inner sanctum. A minimum donation of Rp. 20,000 (~USD1.38) per person is also compulsory, as are sarongs, or traditional Indonesian wraparound garments, available for rent (Rp. 5,000, ~USD0.39).

goa giri putri temple entrance
Hope you haven’t been neglecting your yoga practice, as the narrow cave opening will require all the flexibility you can muster
Image credit: @myra_gerhana

If you’re wondering where the entrance to the temple is, focus your eyes on the literal hole in the wall just below the rocks. Yep, that’s your red carpet right there and you’ll have to crawl for several meters inside its narrow opening before it opens up into the comparatively massive inner sanctum so for the claustrophobic, consider this a warning.

Source of rejuvenating holy water used for the melukat purification ritual

goa giri putri temple cave
Thankfully, the cave opens up sizably just a few meters into the crawl space and if you’d like a moment to gather yourself, you can actually sit on the benches
Image credit: Sasuke Shinozawa/Wikimedia Commons

Luckily, the actual temple complex is a substantial departure from the cramped entrance corridor, with several individual temples housed within the complex. The atmosphere is pretty on point as well, with the dim lights, isolated surroundings, and unmistakable smell of burning incense adding to the solemnity of the prayers and ceremonies.

goa giri putri temple ceremony
The Balinese people regularly performs prayers and ceremonies inside the temple
Image credit: @carlacostawanderlust

Aside from the altars, Goa Giri Putri is also notable for its natural spring with water said to contain magical properties akin to Tirta Empul Temple on the main island. If you come at just the right time, you might even be able to witness the melukat purification ritual being performed here, and the priests are usually gracious enough to let visitors partake in the ritual.

Do note that there are bats living in the cave as well and while they mostly keep to themselves, you might want to watch out for bat droppings when walking.

goa giri putri temple interior
Not to worry, the cave actually has a proper, human-sized exit
Image credit: @2step4ward

Goa Giri Putri basically has a corridor-like structure, so you simply need to follow the path until you arrive at the other end of the cave, which – apologies to those of you who had to squeeze through the crawl space – is much less claustrophobic.

Giri Putri Temple Cave is a unique underground temple in Nusa Penida

If the searing heat of Nusa Penida’s beaches has begun to gnaw on you, the damp and humid cave interior of Goa Giri Putri could work as an antidote.

As with most Balinese temples, Goa Giri Putri is still used as a place of worship, so do mind your behavior while you’re inside the premises.

For more on the island of Bali, check out these stories:

Cover image adapted from Sasuke Shinozawa/Wikimedia Commons

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