For a country and religion where sex out of wedlock is taboo, the idea of a mountaintop sex ritual for Muslims in Indonesia may seem unlikely.
Patrick Abboud films on Gunung Kemukus, otherwise known as Sex Mountain, where thousands make a regular pilgrimage to have sex with strangers.
Based on legend dating back to the 16th century, they believe seven visits and prayers to the adulterous prince Samudro will bring wealth and luck.
“Please grant me great financial good fortune… please give me lots of money to pay my debts,” regular visitor Mardiyah prays at the temple.
“If I get lots of money, I’ll go to Mecca, that’s my ambition,” she tells Patrick.
Many of the pilgrims are married - adulterous sex is condoned at the holy site according to the custom. If they can't find someone to sleep with, some pay prostitutes. Rooms by the hour are for hire at this Islamic holy site.
“I don’t tell my wife. There’s no way she’ll find out,” one pilgrim tells Patrick on camera.
You won’t see this ritual anywhere else in Indonesia or the rest of the Muslim world.
It’s a very Javanese blend of religious ideals – with Islamic, Hindu and Buddhist influences.
Sex Mountain brings in thousands of dollars and even has the backing of the local government, but it’s too much of a contradiction for some.
“The Islamic religion forbids it, but they don’t want to know that,” says Sex Mountain expert Professor Keontjoro Soeparno. “They’re more interested in profit, they leave religion behind.”
With sexually transmitted infections on the rise too, are pilgrims really leaving with just the happiness they’d hoped for?
See Patrick's story above.
Married men, cheating housewives, government officials and prostitutes revelling in a mass ritual of adultery and sex.
This is what happens on Gunung Kemukus in Indonesia, otherwise known as Sex Mountain.
“I come here to seek good fortune,” regular visitor Mardiyah tells me as I follow her journey for Dateline.
She is one of thousands of pilgrims who journey to this mysterious hilltop in Java to perform this ancient ritual. Most consider themselves devout Muslims.
There are several versions of the tale behind it that date back to the 16th century, but legend has it a young Indonesian Prince Pangeran Samodro had an affair with his stepmother.
They ran away and hid on Gunung Kemukus. One day, while mid coitus, they were caught, killed and buried atop the mountain in what is now an Islamic shrine where this sex ritual takes place.
The story goes - pilgrims must also copulate on the mountain every 35 days for seven consecutive times and blessings and wealth should come their way.
But for the magic to work and the money to flow, it’s believed their sex partner for the ritual should not be their spouse.
I also meet Gepeng, who like many others has travelled hundreds of kilometres from across the archipelago to get to sex mountain. He tells me, “You go there to look for a different partner, not the one you have at home. Historically that's how it works.”
Another man travelling with him explains, “I don’t tell my wife. There’s no way my wife will find out.”
Pilgrims first pray and make offerings at the grave. Then they must wash themselves at sacred springs nearby. Once that’s done, it’s time to have sex.
You won’t see this ritual anywhere else in Indonesia or the rest of the Muslim world. It’s a very Javanese blend of religious ideals – with Islamic, Hindu and Buddhist influences.
“It’s a strange thing. A paradox: there’s a mosque, shrine - but outside – there’s a place for having illicit sex,” says Professor Keontjoro Soeparno, a social psychologist from Gadjah Mada University in Yogyakarta. He's been studying the ritual for more than 30 years.
"The fact is - it's hypocritical,” he tells me.
And it is impossible to ignore that the ritual is riddled with contradictions.
Islam says a big no to adultery so the 'out of wedlock' sex clearly goes against the mainstream law of the religion.
Karaoke bars and ‘sex shacks’ line the hillside – some privately owned, others built and funded by the local government.
But they’re loathe to publicly admit there is any sex going on at Gunung Kemukus.
"Pilgrims should come here with pure hearts and clean bodies,” says the gatekeeper employed to look after the mountain shrine. "We’ve never said the sex is a condition of the pilgrimage. It’s what they want to do."
And with more men than women coming here for the ritual - it’s grown to become prime territory for commercial sex workers. Professor Keontjoro estimates about half of the women who show up now are prostitutes.
“The government facilitated the rise of prostitution. The Islamic religion forbids all this, but the government would rather not know about that. Because they’re more interested in profit – they leave their religion behind," he says.
Some say if you pay for sex the ritual doesn't work. The reality is the local government makes a sizeable profit from sex mountain. They charge the stalls to set up shop and the pilgrims pay a toll to enter the site.
With up to 8,000 pilgrims arriving on the busiest nights and an entry fee of around 5000 rupiah, or 50 cents, a time – that’s big business in Indonesia.
So it’s not surprising officials and religious leaders turn a blind eye.
The question remains though – how do we know this ancient tradition actually works.
Does sex with a stranger really boost your bank account?
Mardiyah genuinely believes it does, attributing sex mountain and its spiritual powers to her recent success.
“Praise be to God, after coming here, even though I have a few debts, my business is making a bit of a profit. Even though it’s small, I still give thanks that I’ve received blessings from here,” she says to me.
I don’t know how willing I am to believe in the legacy of Prince Samodro and his stepmother lover, but I can understand the attachment to the myth.