Bali is home to thousands of Balinese Hindu temples. Each is beautiful and unique in its own way; some are more famous than others.
Bali’s Penataran Agung Lempuyang Temple is best known in English as the Gateway to Heaven temple, offering breathtaking views over sacred Mount Agung.
The Penataran Agung Lempuyang Temple has become a leading tourist destination in Bali. Tourists from all over the world make the journey to Karangsem Regency to visit the iconic and deeply spiritually significant temple.
The temple complex really caught the attention of tourists in the early days of social media travel content and quickly became one of the most famous Instagram destinations in the world.
The temple complex receives hundreds of visitors every day, something that many local communities consider to be a great privilege for tourists since the temple is still, first and foremost, a place of worship for Balinese Hindus.
Penataran Agung Lempuyang Temple is one of the Sad Kahyangan Jagad, which in English means the ‘six sanctuaries of the world’.
It is one of the six most sacred sites on the island of Bali, the others being Pura Besakih, known as the Mother Temple, as well as Pura Goa Lawah, Pura Luhur Uluwatu, Pura Luhur Batukaru in Tabanan and Pura Pusering Jagat which can be found 20-minutes outside of Ubud.
All these sites are of huge cultural and spiritual significance to Balinese Hindus and are the reason why officials on the island are working hard to educate tourists about local heritage and ways of life.
@scuffedmedia the truth behind the Gate of Heaven (Lempuyang temple) in Bali #bali #canggu #seminyak #ubud #uluwatu #indonesia #indonesia🇮🇩 #tiktokindonesia #fyp #traveltiktok #backpacking #thingstodoinbali #balitravel ♬ Konoha Peace – Kato
Tourists often have to queue for upwards of an hour in order to get their chance to stand between the gates at the Penataran Agung Lempuyang Temple.
Guides and temple photographers use a mirror against the bottom of the camera lens in order to create a reflection effect in the photos, which is what helped the spot soar to international popularity.
All this provides the context for the reactions to a video that is doing the rounds on social media. The video has triggered a big bag of feelings, to say the least.
The video shows a tourist couple dressed appropriately for being in the temple, posing for their photo at the temple gates.
@drg_travel Important things to know before taking the insta-famous Gate of Heaven Photo…#indonesia🇮🇩 #gateofheavenbali #bali #fyi #puralempunyang #balitemple ♬ Caalm Dooown – EL Locco
Suddenly the guy gets down on one knee and proposes to his girlfriend. At first, she is shocked, surprised, and clearly delighted.
After she says yes, the couple kiss for a couple of seconds and turn to the crowd of tourists and step out of the gateway.
For many who have watched the video, the moment has been praised as sweet and lovely.
Even the viral video account that first shared the footage captioned the video with ‘so sweet’ and the heart-eyes emoji; comments even include well wishes of ‘congratulations.’
@clodavies0 Not to mention the LITTERING too…. #gatesofheaven #gatesofheavenbali #fyp #foryoupage ♬ original sound – Matthew Rincon
The video is proving to be controversial, and officials from the temple have confirmed that they are investigating the matter.
Since Penataran Agung Lempuyang Temple, and in fact, any temple in Bali, is a holy space, intimate relations of any kind are not permitted.
One commenter on the video wrote, “As long as [it’s for] the sake of the dollar, I’ll be blind. PURA LUHUR LEMPUYANG is a place that we are very purified now with the pleasure of tourists who want to do anything there. All for the money.”
Others have started tagging Balinese entrepreneur and social justice activist Ni Luh Djelantik who has been a prominent figure in bringing incidences of cultural disrespect by tourists to light.
Representatives from the temple have confirmed that they are looking into the situation.
Though the video appeared online this week, it is not clear whether the footage was uploaded at the time of the event.
The Head Tour Guide at the temple, Jro Mangku Ketut Cara, spoke with the media. He said, “not only kissing, scenes or impolite behavior in the Lempuyang temple area are prohibited.”
“Even the guide has provided information since he was in the parking area. When [tourists] get to the shuttle bus, we also reminded them what was allowed and what was not allowed.”
The temple has said that they do their best to educate tourists about the do’s and don’ts of visiting a temple but that the man in the video did not communicate with guides his plans to propose.
The Chairman of the Karangasem Regency PHDI, Ni Neugh Rustini, has said opportunities for improvement mustn’t be missed.
He said, “[tourists must not] do inappropriate and eccentric things in sacred areas. Our duty is to maintain the sanctity of holy places and maintain Balinese cultural customs. We hope that similar incidents will not happen again.”
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