Bali's Dark Temple - here be dragons

Ancient Pura Gelap would not be out of place in an episode of Game of Thrones, writes IAN NEUBAUER

An ancient temple guarded by two long stone dragons on the resort island of Bali is described as “extraordinary” by one of the world’s foremost Game of Thrones experts.

Pura Gelap — the Dark Temple — is part of the Besakih temple complex, the biggest and holiest religious site in Bali. Established in the 10 century, the complex surrounds about 20 temples set on stepped terraces on the south-west slope of Mt Agung, a 3031m-high active volcano.

When Mt Agung erupted in 1963 and 1964, killing some 1700 people, lava flow missed Besakih by a matter of metres — an event considered a miracle by Balinese Hindus.

When Agung threatened to erupt again in November 2017, Besakih was closed for six months — the first time in its 1000-year history.

Only around one per cent of the 16 million tourists who come to Bali every year make the trip to Besakih, a two-hour drive from the island's heavily visited south. The number of visitors who climb hundreds of moss-grown stairs to reach the Dark Temple, the highest point in the complex, is smaller still.

This is an edited version of the original, full-length story, which you can read here.

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