This Temple Gate In Bali Is More Than Just An Instagram Favorite

gates of heaven bali


You know this gate. I know this gate. Your grandmother who just downloaded this fun app for photos called Instagram knows this gate. It’s Bali’s Gates of Heaven at Pura Lempuyang, and it’s a photo-favorite for obvious reasons. It’s stunning, it’s dramatic and it’s not that difficult to find — you know, the basic recipe for admittedly capital “B” basic travel pics that are an unabashed joy to take, post and maybe even frame when you come home. So for those of you out there drooling over the scenery and planning the perfect outfit for your own winning shot, here’s what you need to know.

First things first, this temple is a sacred place. It’s not just a photo op. There are traditional Hindu holidays celebrated here and prayers offered every day. Remember to be aware of your surroundings, to both be respectful of local visitors and to understand and experience the temple’s deeper meaning. In fact, the Instagram-bait gate itself symbolizes the boundary between the outer world and the spiritual area within the temple. You can turn that surface level photo shoot into a much more meaningful experience.

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The Gates of Heaven are part of the Pura Penataran Agung Lempuyang temple. The temple, actually comprised of multiple smaller temples in the same larger property, is the highest one in all of Bali. It offers views of the Agung volcano, the largest in Bali, but when the volcano is covered in clouds, all you’ll see is sky.

To get here, you’ll have to drive or hire a driver. The temple is northwest of Ubud and, depending on traffic, it can take between two and six hours to get to the temple’s entrance. When you reach the temple, there are still more than 1,000 steps to climb by foot. To be precise, you’ll climb 1,700 of them. So take your time and soak in your surroundings. The climb can be a spiritual journey as you ascend far above the volcano below and into the sky.

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For the best light and most awe-inspiring experience, you can get up before dawn and head to the temple at sunrise. Or, if you’re not an early bird, you can take an entire day to explore all four temples in the area. But be prepared for a hike. Heads up: Your shoulders must be covered if you want to go inside any of the temples.

As for photos, there’s a bit of luck involved since the area inside the gates isn’t always covered in water. That means those jaw-dropping reflection photos aren’t a guarantee. It really depends on the weather and how much rain has recently fallen in the area. But you will still get a great shot even if the ground is dry behind the temple gates.


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