Photo: Leaving the beaches behind.

Gala Gala Underground House

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Gala Gala Underground House is the folly of the late Made Biasa, a local farmer, dalang (shadow puppet master) and priest.

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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.

Perhaps too much scrimping on decor? Photo taken in or around Gala Gala Underground House, Nusa Lembongan, Indonesia by Sally Arnold.

Perhaps too much scrimping on decor? Photo: Sally Arnold

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 ... Travelfish members only (Full text is around 300 words.)

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