Words by Alana Calvert
Going by the photos, the Bali temple that features in hundreds of Instagram posts looks other-worldly in its scenic beauty.
The Lempuyang Temple entrance, which has come to be known in the West as “The Gates to Heaven”, has been drawing tourists eager to see the incredible place for themselves.
With its high concrete pillars that create a frame for both the person posing between the gates and, on a clear day, the soaring mass of a mountain beyond — all of it completed by a lake throwing a mirror-perfect reflection, the site really does look like a portal to another world.
However, many of those who make the trek after being enticed by the Instagram photos, are quickly disappointed.
Among them was journalist Polina Marinova who was devastated to learn the reality behind those Insta-worthy shots.
She posted her disappointment to Twitter, saying her “hopes and dreams were shattered” to see that the super reflective lake in the foreground of the shots was just a guy holding a piece of glass under an iPhone.
Proof that Instagram influencers have ruined everything👇— Polina Marinova (@polina_marinova) July 4, 2019
My hopes & dreams were shattered when I found out the “water” at the Gates of Heaven is actually just a piece of glass under an iPhone 😭 pic.twitter.com/oiahI5VCIo
The journalist wasn’t the only tourist to learn the truth behind the ‘Gates of Heaven’ shots until she travelled there.
One Australian tourist, who did not wish to be identified, had travelled to the Lempuyang Temple in May and called the practice “quite ridiculous”.
“[It’s] totally faked,” she told Yahoo News Australia. “All they do is get a little reflective piece of glass and put it under the lense of the camera.”
“People drive there for two hours and line up for one hour. It's quite ridiculous.”
However, she said the man did not ask for payment.
Other people replied to Ms Marinova’s tweet claiming to have had similar experiences of having their expectations dashed upon arriving at the temple.
One woman said when she had visited the site two weeks prior she felt “catfished” to see there was no water.
Many people though, including Ms Marinova couldn’t help but commend the ingenuity of the local using the glass to appease Western tourists insatiable obsession with Instagram.
“Wow this guy out here really started an instagram bizniz,” one person quipped, prompting others to humorously contemplate trying the glass method in their own home towns.
Another man was so impressed he joked: “I need to remember this trick when I’m selling my house!”
Fake lake aside, the entire site is undoubtedly still a beautiful place, as many have pointed out.
Situated on the slope of Mount Lempuyang, Lempuyang Temple is known locally as Pura Luhur Lempuyang – one of Bali’s oldest and most highly regarded temples.