Visitors have discovered that a Bali tourist attraction popular with Instagram influencers is actually a fake photo op

a person standing in front of a large rock

  • The Pura Lempuyang Luhur temple, popularly known as the Gates of Heaven, is a major tourist attraction in Bali and a frequent hot spot for Instagram influencers and travel bloggers.
  • But recent visitors have revealed that the reflective lake seen in many of these influencers’ photos at the temple doesn’t actually exist.
  • The illusion is created by a man who sits under an umbrella and holds a mirror underneath an iPhone, making it appear as though there is a pristine lake underneath the two massive stone monoliths of the temple.
  • Tourists line up for hours to take the popular Instagram shot, and are seen practicing in line because they are only allowed five poses at the site.

Search #GatesofHeaven on Instagram and you will find more than 15,000 photos, many of them showing almost the exact same thing: a sole figure, standing between two massive stone monoliths, their reflection illuminated by a stunning crystal-clear lake underneath.

The pictures, taken at the Pura Lempuyang Luhur temple in Bali, Indonesia, have become increasingly popular among Instagram influencers, as ubiquitous in their photo grids as the famous Bali Swing.

But a number of tourists have recently revealed that not all is what it seems at the temple, which has been nicknamed the “Gates of Heaven.”

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A post shared by Jen O’Brien (@gohenny_) on May 3, 2019 at 1:41pm PDT

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A post shared by Darcy ? (@diria_) on Apr 15, 2019 at 4:26pm PDT

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A post shared by Lorenzo (@lorenzo_sportolari) on Jul 8, 2019 at 11:58pm PDT

Turns out, there is no stunning lake underneath the stone monoliths. The illusion is actually created by a photographer who sits under an umbrella and holds a mirror underneath an iPhone to create the reflection.

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A post shared by Турагент. О себе. Путешествия. (@svetik_travel_agent) on Jun 19, 2019 at 2:46am PDT

It was a shocking revelation to Polina Marinova, an editor at Fortune Magazine who visited the temple during a recent trip to Bali.

Before her trip, Marinova had searched for pictures of Bali sites and temples and kept seeing photos of the Gates of Heaven “over and over again,” she told INSIDER.

“It looked absolutely breathtaking,” she added. “But of course, it being Instagram, no one had included in the caption that it wasn’t real, so I just assumed there was water there.”

a bridge over a body of water

Marinova said she couldn’t help but feel heartbroken when she got to the site and realized the lake had been an illusion, one that could be purchased for a $1 or $2 donation.

“There is a long winding line on the side, and hundreds of people are watching you pose at the Gates of Heaven,” she said. “Most, if not all, the people in the line were tourists, and there were definitely people who had prepared for this moment. Some did yoga poses, others jumped in the air, and on several occassions, people did a redo because they didn’t like how their pictures came out. I mean, it was over the top.” 

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