Mount Kemukus: Sex Pilgrimage To Get Laid With Strangers


For hundreds of years, a somewhat steamy sector of Indonesian Muslims have been gathering on the top of an island mountain to engage in sensuous acts of supposed devotion.

But then, it got even weirder.

This is an unlikely story for the biggest Muslim population in the world. They have a mountain which is hailed around Indonesia as a ‘Sex Mountain’, a hill where adultery, a scandalous sex industry and strange rituals exists and are praised!

This sex pilgrimage is not your ideal religious trip

Mount Kemukus is the shrine of Prince Pangeron Samodro and his stepmother Nyai. Legend has it that they ran away together and lived at the mountain. It is believed that if you do something even more shameful there, such as having an adulterous sex, you will be blessed with luck and fortune.

The shrine attracts up to 8,000 pilgrims and has an entry fee of around 5,000 rupiah (50 US cents). Since the eighties and nineties, businesses have grown in what was once a tree-filled mountain. Earlier in past, people would just go and have sex in an extraordinary ritual in touch with nature. Today, there are bars, karaokes, restaurants, and a small red-light district, since prostitution has become quite the business. Kemukus has ceased to be holy land and is now a victim of the oldest blooming industry out there, sex.

Nowhere else in Muslim culture you will find a practice like this, as Islam prohibits extramarital affairs, with exception of rules around slavery.

Here’s the ritual: Have an adulterous affair on the top of Mount Kemukus, on the auspicious night of Jaman Pon on the Javanese calendar, when the ‘ritual’ for the night is done, the pilgrims place flowers on the graves, wash themselves in the springs close by and then they start looking for their unknown partner.

Then exchange contact details and personal info with that stranger and plant to meet in other places to have sex every 35 days, for seven continuous times to complete the ritual.

Married men, housewives, government officials and prostitutes – there’s a long list of people who participate and indulge in the not-so-auspicious act.

How did this strange and contradictory ritual start?

It all starts back in the 16th century, when a legendary prince named Pangeran Samodro, son of the country’s king, ran away with his step-mother Nyai Ontrowulan. They ran off to Mount Kemukus in Sragen Regency Central Jawa, 28 kilometers away from the little town of Solo.  They were caught by the coldies and locals, while committing incest. They couldn’t even finish the act and were killed and buried immediately, in the hole.

A local who narrated the story concluded that, “There is a shrine there now, and because they didn’t get to finish the act, others believe that if you do, fortune will come to you, most people like poor farmers who want to get ahead in life.”

The dark side of the dark ritual

Whether it is to earn divine favors or to simply have a reason to be with someone other than spouses, the number of people who visit here increases every year. The sex mountain has caught the attention of authorities. However, the only thing that was a matter of concern for the authorities was the parking fees, so parking is now chargeable!

When the ritual first started, the place exploded with pilgrims making out in the open or under the trees. Eventually, hostels and small businesses took over and the place turned into a tourist spot, earning large incomes for the locals as well as the government.

The pilgrimage soon got corrupted by the growth of sex-trade and prostitution atop the hill, leading to interference from locals and the government. Conservative Muslims who lived nearby started protesting against the boom of adultery. A gradual increse in the numbers of HIV and other STD cases further bulked up the situation and eventually, a major section of the businesses including hotels and rented rooms were shut down. Most of the families which were not involved in the sex related business have moved away from the hill.

Strong believers still are carrying forward the legacy and follow the ritual religiously under the trees, just like the old days. If they are to be believed, performing this act has helped some of them gain better income, while others claim to have observed a decline in their problems in life.

A legend born from adultery has turned into a pilgrimage for many! These customs can appear strange to those who don’t relate to this culture but they can easily believe in something having no logical or scientific grounds.

Sometimes, religion can beat even the strongest moral convictions.

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