A subterranean curiosity
Published/Last edited or updated: 4th September, 2017
Gala Gala Underground House is the folly of the late Made Biasa, a local farmer, dalang (shadow puppet master) and priest.
Biasa may mean ordinary in Indonesian, but Made Biasa's house is certainly not run-of-the-mill. Basically it’s a 500-square-metre hole in the ground, or a labyrinth of tunnels to be exact, dug entirely by hand, with steep, narrow entrances and rooms. Signage at the site explains that Made was inspired by an episode from the Hindu epic, the Mahabharata, where the heroes of the tale, the Pandawas, hide in a forest cave for 12 years.
The underground house took slightly longer to complete: 15 years, beginning in the early 1960s through to the mid 70s. Several entrances and ventilation holes punctuate the ground within a walled enclosure. The interior is dark, requiring a torch to have a good look around (BYO) and the passages are fairly narrow and slippery. You’ll have to crouch down in a few sections, but it’s possible to stand in others, although definitely not for claustrophobics.
Here you can explore supposedly two kitchens, two bedrooms, a sitting room and a well, but with no interior signage or information we found it difficult to figure out which was which. Symbolic animals are supposed to be carved onto one wall (however we couldn’t find these) and represent numbers, and consequently the date of completion. The asking price to enter this curiosity is 50,000 rupiah, which is a little pricey considering it only takes a few minutes to investigate.
Above ground, the owners sell drinks, snacks and souvenirs. If “outsider art” and quirky attractions appeal (they do to us), add this to your itinerary, however to others this may just seem a perplexing oddity.
Gala Gala Underground House is in Lembongan village along a signposted lane off Jalan Raya Lembongan-Jungut Batu. In this area you can also climb the hill to visit the temple, Pura Puncak Sari (bring a sarong and sash) which enjoys panoramic views across to Nusa Ceningan.
Address: Lembongan village, on a lane off Jalan Raya Lembongan-Jungut Batu, Nusa Lembongan
Coordinates (for GPS): 115º26'23.44" E, 8º41'30.95" S
See position in Apple or Google Maps: Apple Maps | Google Maps
Admission: 50,000 rupiah
Sally spent twelve years leading tourists around Indonesia and Malaysia where she collected a lot of stuff. She once carried a 40kg rug overland across Java. Her house has been described as a cross between a museum and a library. Fuelled by coffee, she can often be found riding her bike or petting stray cats. Sally believes travel is the key to world peace.
These tours are provided by Travelfish partner GetYourGuide.
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