Goa Giri Putri Temple: A World War ll Hideout on the Island of Nusa Penida in Indonesia by Sheri B Doyle
On the island of Nusa Penida in Indonesia, a very sacred space hides quietly in the side of a large hill. With only a small crack for an opening, the Goa Giri Putri Temple welcomes guests now as they have for hundreds of years.
Feeling like Alice In Wonderland, I approached the small opening, a mere crack in between two rocks. I gathered my skirt and slid through the opening and down into the cave. When I reached bottom and stood up, a massive cave opened before my eyes. The 45-foot ceilings covered in stalactites, lit sporadically by spotlights, were both beautiful and eerie.
As I began to walk there were many different temples along the way, some for Buddhists and some for Hindus. Each offered a place to pray and meditate in this quiet 300-meter long cave. Water dripped from the stalactites, the only noise in the cave.
During World War ll, the cave had thousands of guests who came to hide for months from the Japanese during the invasion. It was hard to imagine the conditions they must have endured gathered in this cave, 150 feet above sea level, waiting and praying for the Japanese to leave their country. I imagined them sneaking out to forage for food, and then huddling together in their familial groups praying to their own gods as they waited for the end of the war.
The six humble temples ended with a special spot for the Chinese deities, where people come to pray for better business and prosperity. From there I exited through a metal gate and started the walk along the narrow pathway and down the hill. I felt different after leaving, touched by the endurance and acceptance of the beautiful Indonesian people.
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