Temples in Bali
The 9 Key Directional Temples (Water and Mountain Temples), the Must See Temples and the most popular, Undiscovered Temples and Hidden Beauties and general explanations about Balinese Mentality and Caste Division.
Balinese Mentality and Caste Division:
Due to the enormous amount of Balinese Temples in Indonesia and their different levels of importance and meaning, the following summary will give create an overview about Bali’s 9 directional temples ( that are facing the water or mountains), the most popular and important temples and finally some hidden and sleeping beauties, that are more or less worth an exploration.
To understand the Balinese a little better, we start with a general introduction about their mentality and an explanation about the Caste Division.
Every village in Bali has several public temples and every Balinese home at least one little house temple as the Balinese are enormously religious. It can probably be said that the Balinese are the most religious people in the world. Official numbers prove that 90% of Bali’s inhabitants still follow Hinduism. This illuminates the diversity of the temples on Bali.
There are three fundamental types of temple in every village. Pura Puseh (temple of origin) remains the most important and is reserved for the founders of the village. It is always situated at the kaja (facing the mountain) end of the village. In the middle of the village is the Pura Desa, which is for the spirits that protect and bless the villagers in their daily lives. At the kelod (facing the sea) end of the village is the Pura Dalem (temple of the dead) as well as a graveyard. The Pura Dalem would have representations of Durga, the dark and terrible side of Shiva’s wife, Parvati. Both Shiva and Parvati have a creative and destructive side, and it is their powers of destruction that are honoured in the Pura Dalem.
The house temples are partially ostentatious if a family is rich or can also be just a simple shelf if the owner is poor.
The Balinese love to express their selves as we still have a caste division in Bali, which rates the quality of a person. Even though everybody says that this caste system is outdated; it is still in the head of the Balinese people. The fact that a person from a lower Kasta (Balinese for caste) is not even allowed to invite somebody from the higher caste for a coffee or a snack, but it is possible the other way around, shows that the caste system is still omnipresent.
The Balinese caste system is similar to the one in India (Shudra, Vaishya, Kshatriya, and Brahmin) and is separated into 4 different categories:
It is the lowest caste. About 90% of the Balinese people belong to this caste. Regular workers are classified as Shudras
- Wesias (Vaishyas)
The caste for business men and merchants
The caste for warriors and kings
This caste is the highest and is reserved for holy men and priests
Different castes mean different languages and the lower ranked person has to use the language of the higher caste.
Please make a picture in your own mind and then leave a comment. We would be happy to hear what everyone personally thinks about the caste systems or to give us an opinion on the Balinese mentality or even about the Balinese in general.
Ok, let us come away from the excursion into the Balinese Caste System to our main category “Balinese Temples”.
The term pura originates from the Sanskrit words (-pur, -puri, -puram, -pore), meaning city, walled city, towered city or palace. Finally a temple is a place that is surrounded by a wall. A wall has a very important meaning in the Balinese religion. It is meant to keep the devil spirits outside of the property.
A temple visit in Bali is already something really special but it becomes an unforgettable experience if there is a chance to see a ceremony. Temples are transformed into scenes bursting with colour, offerings are made, the gamelan orchestra plays their holy music while the men can be seen betting on cockfighting.
Bali has 9 directional Temples that face the mountains or the ocean.
The direction toward the mountains, Kaja, is the most significant direction. The direction toward the sea is Kelod. The direction toward the sunrise, Kangin, is found in most secondary shrines.
Have a wonderful stay on the "Island of the Gods".
YOUR travelling BALI team
Bali's 9 Key Directional Temples That Face A Variety Of Mountains, Lakes or Oceans are:
- Purah Besakih (Mother Temple), located on the western slopes of Gunung Agung in East Bali
- Pura Lempuyang (Lempuyang Temple), located on the slopes of Gunung Lempuyang, near Amlapura in East Bali
- Pura Luhur Batukaru (Batukaru Temple), located on the southern slopes of Gunung Batukaru in Central Bali
- Pura Luhur Uluwatu (Uluwatu Temple), located on the western end of the Bukit Peninsula
- Pura Ulun Danu Batur (Batur Temple), located at Kintamani in the Eastern Highlands
- Pura Goa Lawah (Bat Cave Temple), located on the main road near Padangbai in East Bali
- Pura Andakasa (Andakasa Temple), located on the summit of Mount Andakasa
- Pura Puncak Mangu (Puncak Mangu Temple), located on the top of Mount Catur, 2096 meter above the sea level
- Pura Pusering Jagat (Pusering Jagat Temple), located in the centre of Bali, close to Gianyar city.
Temple Guide – Temples in Bali – Bat Cave Temple
Bali's 9 Key Directional Temples - # 1 - The Bat Cave Temple in Bali (Pura Goa Lawah Bali) – A Legendary Temple
The Bat Cave Temple (Pura Goa Lawah), is a very unique cave temple, its location is in the southeast of Bali, directly on the coastline, 8 kilometres east of Semarapura, in the Klungkung regency, about a 2 hour drive from Kuta.
According to legends, the temple was built by Mpu Kuturan, a popular Javanese priest who spread Hinduism on Bali, when he came to the "Island of the Gods" in the 11th century. The Balinese Lontar, Bali´s Palm Leaf Bible, was telling the story of Dang Hyang Nirartha, a travelling priest who arrived in Bali in the 15th century to build a large amount of temples including Pura Goa Lawah (Uluwatu Temple is also attributed to Dang Hyang Nirartha).
By the way, legend also says that the cave is inhabited by a giant snake that eats the bats that are populating it! However don´t worry, no one is allowed to enter anyway!
The main shrine at Goah Lawah has something really magical about it, but compared to the other major temples such as Uluwatu Temple or Tanah Lot, Pura Goa Lawah is only worth a side trip. Kusamba Beach, located across the road, is completely different to the ones in the south of Bali as it is a black sand beach (remember: Bali is a volcanic island). Hundreds of swarming bats will make a memorable moment for every tourist that visits and their nose too.
Tip 1: Get a tour guide at the temple entrance, they have vast amounts of knowledge on the history and customs of the temple. Their ‘salary’ is negotiable! Everything above 5 USD is overpaid.
Warning 1: Don’t accept the free necklaces, it is a vendors’ trick. If anyone accepts they won’t let them leave until they have bought something. If visitors decide to buy one, the price should not be any higher than 3 – 4 USD.
Warning 2: Do not enter the cave! As mentioned before, inside a giant snake is waiting for lunch.
Bali's 9 Key Directional Temples - # 2 - Batukaru Temple Bali (Pura Luhur Batukaru Bali) – The second highest temple in Bali
Batukaru Temple (Pura Luhur Batukaru) is located at the foot of Mount Batukaru, the second highest mountain in Bali, in the middle of the jungle, close to Wongayagede Village in the Tabanan Regency, about a 1 ½ hour drive from Kuta.
The history of Pura Luhur Batukaru, also named Watukaru Temple, is not clear but manuscripts from the 17th century about Buleleng Kingdom and Manuscripts called Kusuma Dewa, state that Mpu (Empu) Kuturan, who also built Uluwatu Temple, the Bat Cave Temple as well as many others in the 11th century, took over this project too. As with many temples, Batu Karu Temple also has a very interesting legend to offer.
A Balinese King named Panji Sakit, who wanted to expand his empire, attacked Batukaru. For some reason Panji Sakit also wanted to damage Batu Karu Temple and as soon as he had started to damage the temple, the King and his soldiers were attacked by thousands and thousands of bees forcing them to retreat.
Since the renovation of the temple which started in 1959, which took about 18 years, Batu Karu Temple is back its original shape.
Pura Luhur Batukaru lies in solitary clearing 1,300 meters above sea level, bounded by a lush green tropical rainforest. Next to Batukaru Temple it’s possible to find a garden with flowering frangipani, hibiscus plants and other vegetation. It is a very natural area, with wild monkeys and not many tourists visit this place.
The temple itself is not as impressive as some others as it consists of the three regular courtyards, separated by gates. However the place is simply phenomenal and well worth the visit. It will not only inspire tourist’s spirit of discovery, Batukaru Temple also guarantees any visitor a memorable moment that will last a lifetime.
In case anybody is in Bali one day after Galungan (Balinese Holiday), don’t miss the opportunity to see this temples delightful anniversary. Thousands of pilgrims from all over Bali meet on this special day at Watu Karu Temple.
Tip 1: Make sure a trip to the lavatory is made before visiting Batukaru Temple as the sanitary standard for the provided restrooms is local.
Additional Information 1: The parking area is close to the temple and well maintained
Bali's 9 Key Directional Temples - # 3 - Lempuyang Temple in Bali (Pura Luhur Lempuyang) – The temple of a thousand steps
Lempuyang Temple Bali (Pura Luhur Lempuyang Bali), is also called ‘The Temple of Thousand Steps’ is located at the summit of Belibis Hill (Mount Lempuyang), 1.058 meters above sea level, northeast of Mount Agung, Abang District, Karangasem Regency and about a 2 ¾ hour drive from Kuta.
It is not documented when Lempuyang Temple was exactly built. Legends say that when mother earth was only 70 years old, the island of Bali was unstable and earthquakes happened daily. The god Pacupati, who resides in Mount Sumeru saw this condition and asked his three children to stabilize Bali. He sent Hyang Gni Jaya, Hyang Putra Jaya and Dewi Danu to Bali to reside in three different places; Dewi Danu on Mount Batur, Hyang Putra Jaya on Mount Agung, and Hyang Gni Jaya in Lempuyang Luhur Temple. This legend bears a resemblance to the one we know from Mount Batur.
There is one thing which everyone should be aware of if they decide to see Pura Luhur Lempuyang. It is not called ‘The Temple of Thousand Steps’ for no reason. If anyone would like to see the main temple of this complex, they have to climb about 1700 stairs to reach it. Six more temples along the way to Lempuyang Luhur Temple are begging for every traveller’s attention.
Additional Information 1: Lempuyang could be derived from the words Lampu, meaning lamp or light and the word hyang which means god. Finally Lempuyang means “the light of god”.
Others believe that the words come from a seasoning, used as medicine. It also can come from the words emong or empu which both mean guardian.
Additional Information 2: The main reason for the Balinese to make a pilgrimage to Lempuyang Temple is to get sacred holy water. This sacred holy water is obtained by cutting a yellow bamboo plant.
Additional Information 3: If all those stairs seem manageable that a stunning view will be a just reward
Temple Guide – Temples in Bali – Besakih Temple
Bali's 9 Key Directional Temples - # 4 - Besakih Temple in Bali or Mother Temple Bali (Pura Luhur Besakih Bali) – One of Bali’s most important temples
Besakih Temple Bali (also named as Mother Temple Bali or Pura Besakih Bali) is located in the village of Besakih (Rendang Sub-district, Karangasem) right at the foot of Mount Agung, in the eastern domain of Bali.
As its name is already saying, it is the mother of all temples and not just one of Bali’s most important temples; it is the most important one in Bali! Some people might be wondering, what is so special about Besakih Temple, we normally have to go a little bit deeper into the Balinese culture to give a full answer. However, I will try to explain it without making it boring:
Balinese believe, the higher a temple is located, the closer it is to god and the closer a temple is to god, the more sacred it is!
Besakih Temple is located about 1.000 meters above sea level and finally it is the highest substantial public temple complex. Besakih Temple dates back to about the 10th century (the same age as Tirta Empul Temple) and is actually a complex consisting of about 30 singular temples, with hundreds of shrines, dedicated to the helpers of the gods. When the highest temple of the Mother Temple complex has finally been reached Pura Penataran Agung Besakih, visitors will be rewarded with unimaginable views and a fabulous, spiritual feeling.
Obviously, the most marvellous things in Bali also have a reverse side to the coin. As the Mother Temple is a very popular tourist place, everybody will be asked for money at every single corner. A guide offering his knowledge here, a seller his products there and obviously the entrance has to be paid for as well. Additionally vacationers will probably get forced to buy a Sarong for 50 USD which is 3-4 times of the real value. Besakih Temple can easily become annoying at the beginning, especially if one doesn’t think they can handle pushy people. As a fan of this tremendous and imposing complex it is hard to say: “If any tourists can’t handle these situations, stay away from Pura Besakih and see the other major temples on Bali such as Pura Luhur Uluwatu (Uluwatu Temple) or Tirta Empul Temple (Pura Tirta Empul) just to name a few. For those who don’t mind at all and make this tour to Bali’s holiest temple will finally get a chance to explore a terrific complex with stunning views from the top level!
Tip 1: Try to smile when negotiating, even if it is annoying. Most Balinese people have a problem to understand about the real value of a product. It can happen where the printed price on the entrance ticket can be different to the asking price and even the entrance fee has to be negotiated.
Tip 2: Ask the driver BEFORE entering Pura Besakih for tips and tricks. He comes here a lot and knows exactly what to do!
Additional Information 1: Mount Agung’s last activity dates back to 1963. A series of eruptions killed about 1700 people. The lava flows missed the Besakih Temple by mere meters. Balinese people believed and still believe that this is a sign that the gods wanted to show their power but did not want to destroy this unique and imposing Balinese structure.
Additional Information 2: Every shrine has its own anniversary and many of those “birthdays” are celebrated. The anniversaries follow the Balinese Calendar and the Ceremonies take place every 210 days.
Additional Information 3: Besakih is derived from the Sanskrit word Basuki which means ‘congratulations’.
Temple Guide – Temples in Bali – Batur Temple
Bali's 9 Key Directional Temples - # 5 - Batur Temple and Batur Lake in Bali (Pura Ulun Danu Batur Bali) – An important Temple complex of 285 shrines
Batur Temple Bali or Pura Ulun Danu Batur Bali is a voyage of about 2 ½ hours from Kuta, in Kalanganyar Village, Kintamani district, in the eastern highlands.
Pura Ulun Danu Batur is dedicated to the goddess Ida Batari Dewi Ulun Danu which has as another nice legend behind it.
A long time ago, Shiva (destroyer God) climbed up Mount Mahameru in India and divided it into two parts. She kept two stones and created two mountains out of it in Bali, Mount Agung and Mount Batur. Both of them became a residence for her children. From that time on her son Putranjaya sits enthroned on Mount Agung and her daughter Dewi Ulun Danu lives on Mount Batur.
Batur Temple, at its original location was at the south-western slopes of Mount Batur, it was nearly completely destroyed by Mount Batur’s two heavy eruptions in 1917 and 1926. Batur Village was completely destroyed, thousands of people died and the complete area was ruined. Apart from the most important shrine, an 11 roofed Meru, nothing else survived. In 1927 Local Villages decided to rebuild the Temple in a higher area. Batur Temple is a temple complex that consists of 9 additional temples with a total of 285 shrines.
1. Pura Penataran Agung Batur, the principal temple
2. Penataran Pura Jati,
3. Pura Tirta Bungkah,
4. Pura Taman Sari,
5. Pura Tirta Mas Mampeh,
6. Pura Sampian Wangi,
7. Pura Gunarali,
8. Pura Padang Sila
9. Pura Tuluk Biyu
Additional Information 1: Batur lake is a very important water supply for plenty of rice fields in the Gianyar, Klungkung and Bangli regency.
Bali's 9 Key Directional Temples - # 6 - Uluwatu Temple (Pura Luhur Uluwatu) – A majestic Temple on the edge of a cliff
Uluwatu Temple, also named Pura Luhur Uluwatu, Bali’s southernmost key directional temple, is majestically situated on a 75 meter high steep cliff in Pecatu Village (Badung District), about a one hour trip away from the very well-known Kuta area.
Pura Luhur Uluwatu dates back to the 11th century, (Warmadewa Dynasty from the 10th to 14th centuries).
Two legendary, religious characters are connected to Uluwatu Temple.
1. Empu Kuturan – A talented Javanese shrine builder who got the order to add several shrines to Uluwatu Temple.
2. Dangh Hyang Nirartha – A priest, travelling all over the island to build shrines, finally ending up at Pura Luhur Uluwatu to add Padmasana Shrines to the Uluwatu Temple and to carve a special stone as a resting place for the gods.
Even if it is not in the best condition anymore Uluwatu Temple is simply a magnificent place. Below the cliff, the ocean demonstrates nature’s forces and the view is absolutely stunning. Everyone’s kids will love the monkeys as they are willing to interact with passers-by. Around 6 pm there is a chance to watch a spectacular Balinese Dance performance (for an extra charge), the Fire Kecak Dance. Where it is possible to experience an adorable sunset and finally the place is free of pushy sellers, making a visit to Uluwatu Temple extremely relaxing.
Tip 1: Please be aware of thieving monkeys. They especially like sunglasses, cameras and caps.
Tip 2: The area around Uluwatu Temple is very popular with professional surfers as it is the place for a very well-known annual surf competition and it offers nice beaches.
Tip 3: The traffic in the early evening can get really busy, especially on Friday’s. In case the sunset at Pura Luhur Uluwatu doesn’t sound interesting (probably because enjoy a romantic sunset dinner at Jimbaran Beach, which has to be passed on the way back anyway sounds better), make sure to leave in plenty of time.
Additional information 1: Uluwatu consist of two Words.
1. Ulu = beginning
2. Watu = Stone
Uluwatu temple finally means: Cliff Situated Temple
Temple Guide – Temples in Bali – Andakasa Temple
Bali's 9 Key Directional Temples - # 7 - Andakasa Temple in Bali (Pura Luhur Andakasa Bali) – A great Temple with real Balinese charm
Andakasa Temple is located close to Angantelu Village, in the Manggis district, of the Karangasem regency, 200 meters above sea level on the summit of Mount Andakasa, a 70 kilometres or a 2 hour voyage from Kuta or Seminyak and not far from Goa Lawah and Bali’s Bat Cave Temple.
Additionally Andakasa Temple also belongs to Bali’s 9 key directional temples, although it is not very popular with tourists and could have been listed in the category of hidden Treasures instead.
Balinese legends inform us, when god created Bali, he took a large rock from Semeru Mountain in Java and used a small portion to form Andakasa Hill. With the rest of the rock he created Mount Agung, the highest mountain in Bali with a total height of 3142 meters.
The date that Andakasa Temple originates from is not 100% clear. A Papyrus called Usana Bali, estimates the temple was built in the 11th century by Mpu Kuturan, who also built Goa Lawah, Bali’s Bat Cave Temple and added shrines to Uluwatu Temple during the Marakata Dynasty (1024-1028).
On the journey from the car park to the final destination, everyone needs to walk for a few minutes through the rain forest to reach a small alter that is next to a sacred spring where the locals get there holy water. After another 10 minutes’ walk and clambering up plenty of stairs, visitors will finally arrive at Pura Andakasa.
Tip1: Just go there if the Bat Cave temple is the first destination and there is still some feeling of curiosity to see more holy places.
Additional Information 1: Little Warungs (restaurants) can provide food after every excursion.
Additional Information 2: Pura Andakasa is extremely important to the Balinese people as it is a great place for praying and meditating but in the end it’s not a “must see” for tourists coming to Bali.
Temple Guide – Temples in Bali –Puncak Mangu Temple
Bali's 9 Key Directional Temples - # 8 - Puncak Mangu Temple in Bali (Pura Luhur Puncak Mangu) – A Temple for those that enjoy physical exercise
Puncak Mangu Temple is not very well known and not very easy to reach as it is located on top of Gunung Catur (Mount Catur), 2096 meters above sea level.
Park the car at Taman Rekreasi Bedugul. The approximate 6 kilometre hike to the top of Mount Catur takes, depending on every visitor’s condition, 2 – 3 hours. The way back will take about 1 hour less as it will all be downhill.
The trip starts with a casual stroll but near to the summit it becomes a lot more challenging. However after the hard struggle everyone is rewarded with an amazing picturesque view.
Puncak Mangu Temple is the perfect place to go if holiday makers would like to combine sightseeing and hiking. It is clearly not recommended for people who don’t like longer walks or hiking.
Tip 1: Don’t forget to bring water
Tip 2: Ask at the rangers’ station for a guide as this trip isn’t manageable without one.
Tip 3: Don’t to this trip during in the rainy season
Tip 4: See Goa Jepang, a former Japanese Bunker from World War 2.
Temple Guide – Temples in Bali – Pusering Jagat Temple
Bali's 9 Key Directional Temples - # 9 - Pusering Jagat Temple in Bali (Pura Luhur Pusering Jagat) - Temple in the Navel of the World
The Pusering Jagat Temple is located in the Village of Pejeng, in the Tampaksiring District, about 7 kilometers away from Gianyar city or a 70 minute tour from Bali’s major tourist destinations such as Seminyak.
Pusering Jagat Temple dates back to the 11th century but developed its importance about 300 years later when the Pejeng Village was situated in the exact centre of one ancient Balinese empire. The name is also derived from this fact as the literal translation of Pusering Jagat Temple is “Temple in the Navel of the World”. Additionally legends state that the world’s life and its civilizations were started at Pura Pusering Jagat.
The point of interest here is the meter-high elaborately carved holy water vessel which has a detailed representation that portrays the Hindu myth of "the churning of the sea of milk” sculpted into its exterior. In a nearby pavilion another significant icon can be found, it is a meter-high phallic lingam and its female receptacle, the yoni which is an important shrine for Balinese infertile couples and newlyweds.
Must See Temples in Bali
Temple Guide – Temples in Bali – Tanah Lot Temple
Bali's Must See Temples - # 1 – The Must See Attraction Tanah Lot Temple in Bali (Pura Tanah Lot) – The Temple on it’s on little rock
Tanah Lot Temple (Purah Tanah Lot), Bali’s only off-shore temple, is located 13 kilometers southwest of Tabanan, in Beraban village, about a 1 ½ hour tour from Kuta.
Tanah Loth Temple (Pura Pakendungan is the ancient name for Tanah Lot) dates back to the 15th century and sits graceful on its little rock, waiting for the low tide so it can welcome Balinese worshipers.
Legend says, Tanah Loth Temple was built by Sanghyang Nirantha one of the last Brahman priests who arrived from Java and got plenty of followers very quickly. Bendesa Beraben, the local ruler, who was afraid of losing control, ordered the Nirantha to leave. The Newcomer then used his magical powers to split the rock that Tanah Lot is situated on, from the mainland. Nirantha also transformed his scarf into a holy snake, which nowadays still protects Tanah Lot. Eventually, and many years later, the old leader Beraben followed the newcomer Nirantha.
Pura Tanah Lot, is a very popular attraction in Bali. As Uluwatu Temple, Tanah Lot Temple also offers an unbelievable sunset and a lovely area to stroll around. During low tide, the rocky coast is the perfect place for kids to capture crabs and romp around. Ceremonies at Tanah Lot are spectacular and make the most fabulous postcard pictures. Check out the event calendar of Tanah Lot Temple, to make sure, it is possible to take an outstanding picture of a magical moment in Bali.
Many shops and some Warungs can be found around Tanah Lot. The prices are reasonable and the sellers are not overly pushy. Some showmen offer everybody the opportunity to take pictures with monkeys or snakes for a small donation. Purah Tanah Lot guarantees every family a nice afternoon, and in the event of good weather, a gorgeous sunset as well.
Tip 1: Pura Tanah Lot is a very nice area for kids during low tide but please take care as the rocks can be slippery
Tips 2: Check out the event calendar and ask the staff at the hotel for the ceremony time to take the perfect postcard picture
Additional information 1: Tanah Lot is derived from the words Tanah (land) and Laut (ocean) which finally means offshore.
Temple Guide – Temples in Bali – Bratan Temple and Lake
Bali's Must See Temples - # 2 – The Must See Attraction Bratan Temple and Lake in Bali (Pura Ulun Danu Bratan) – An outstanding Temple in outstanding scenery
Bratan Temple Bali (Pura Ulun Danau Bratan) is located on the shores of Bratan Lake in the Bedugul domain 1240 meters above sea level. A one-way trip from Kuta takes about 2 hours.
Bratan Temple was built by the King of Mengwi in 1633, who also built the water temple Taman Ayun. It is dedicated to the Goddess of Water Dewi Anu to ensure a successful harvest season with bountiful crops.
Visitors will enjoy the complete Area around Bratan Temple as it is simply amazing, well maintained and one of the most visited cultural highlights in Bali. Pura Ulun Danau Bratan area offers stunning postcard picture views and it’s the perfect place for long strolls and water sport activities. At Bratan Lake Temple Complex, all gods of the Triad (Trimurti) are honoured (Brahma, Vishnu and Shiva). A banyan tree shades the temple entrance and leads people through a wonderful garden. Pura Ulun Danua Bratan contains four different temples, referred to by the mentioned Gods.
1. Lingga Petak Temple – Siwa, the destroyer
2. Puncak Mangu Temple (Pura Pucak Mangu Temple – Bhatara Hyang Danawa or Wisnu, the protector and preserver
3. Teratai Bang Temple (Pura Teratai Bang) – Brahma, the creator of the universe
4. Dalem Purwa Temple (Palebahan Pura Dalem Purwa) – Bhatara Hyang Danawa or Laksmi Goddess.
Penataran Temple clearly gets the most attention, it’s situated on a peninsula that juts out into the lake. Its 11 roofed Meru (pagoda shaped shrines with a maximum amount of 13 roofs) can be seen on almost every Bratan Lake postcard.
Tip 1: Bratan Temple is a Must Visit for every age. Kids can romp around, paddleboats can be rented and the scenery is simply magnificent.
Tip 2: Don’t forget to bring a jacket, it can get very cool up there!
Tip 3: Plan to stay there for a minimum of 1 ½ hours, it is worth it!
Additional Information 1: Merus are named after Mt. Meru, a sacred Hindu peak, considered for the gods.
Temple Guide – Temples in Bali – Gunung Kawi Temple
Bali's Must See Temples - # 3 - The Must See Attraction Gunung Kawi Temple in Bali (Pura Gunung Kawi Bali) – A unique Temple carved into the mountain
Gunung Kawi Temple (Pura Gunung Kawi), another unique Balinese temple complex, carved into the mountain, which is located on Pakerisan River, close to the village of Tampak Siring and the Tampak Siring Palace in the regency of Gianyar.
Gunung Kawi temple dates back to the 11th century and the creation was started by Raja Marakatapangkaja (reign: 1024 – 1028 AD) and then finished by Raja Anak Wungsu (rerign: 1050 – 1077) who in the end actually gave up his kingdom to become a religious eremite. Another legend says that the monuments were carved out of the mountain by the Giant Kebo Iwo within one night.
Pura Gunung Kawi bears a resemblance to the South American Mayan Temples as it is surrounded by a lush green tropical rainforest and situated on a mountain river. Each of the 10 seven meters high niches Gunung Kawi Temple is very popular for, contains a different tomb dedicated to long forgotten kings, additionally making this place both unique and incredibly spiritual. The tombs are spread within a distance of 1 km2 which means it takes a short relaxing stroll to see them all.
Tip 1: Gunung Kawi Temple is well worth the visit! It is highly recommended to go there, especially if art and/or culture are desired.
Tip 2: More than 300 stairs have to be managed, so only go there if a little exercise doesn’t sound too scary.
Tip 3: Nobody has to buy a sarong from the vendors in the shop area before the entrance, borrow it at the ticket counter.
Tip 4: Leave enough time to try and find out the hidden meanings of all the carvings.
Additional Information 1:The complex was discovered by Europeans in the 1920’s even they had arrived more than a decade ago.
Additional Information 2: Gunung Kawi is derived from the words gunung (mountain) and kawi (carving) – If we were to use the American Indian language, we could finally come up with a translation as follows “The Carvings which have been made into the mountain”! It makes sense, right?
Bali's Must See Temples - # 4 - The Must See Attraction Pulaki Temple in Bali (Pura Pulaki Bali) – A Temple with magnificent views
Pulaki Temple (Pura Pulaki Bali) is located in the western part of Buleleng Regency, close to Banyu Poh, a grape-growing village in the Grokgak sub district and about a 3 hour drive away from Kuta (30 kilometers from Seririt and about 45 kilometers from Singaraja or Lovina.
Pulaki Temple also commemorates the arrival of the Javanese saint-priest Nirartha in the early 16th centuries (Please see also Rambut Siwi Temple, Uluwatu Temple and Goah Lawah Temple). It is said that when Dangh Hyang Nirartha entered the forest of Pulaki he was escorted by plenty of monkeys. To give thanks to those monkeys who guided him, he established Pulaki Temple. In the end the monkeys eventually became the guards of this temple. Also Pulaki Temple was meant as a retreat for Nirartha’s beautiful daughter to prevent her abduction by the king.
Pulaki Temple, the main temple of Permuteran, directly situated on the coastline, offers some magnificent views. It is divided into 3 courtyards and dominated by black colour. To enter the main court some stairs have to be climbed but they can be managed by everybody. Pulaki Temple is surrounded by two more temples. At Pura Pabean Temple local fishermen pray for a safe journey. At the foot of Pura Pabean is it possible to find Segara Temple, an older and very basic temple.
Tip 1: Buy some fruits and have the full attention of the macaques.
Tip 2: Check out the path in the upper part of the compound and get some even better views.
Tip 3: Banyu Poh Village is surrounded by vineyards and the perfect area for a wine tasting tour. Please ask the friendly hotel staff to get all the information that is desired.
Additional Information 1:
Nyegara Gunung is a place where the mountain is close to the ocean. The Balinese believe that these kinds of places have a special spirit.
Temple Guide – Temples in Bali – Tirta Empul Temple
Bali's Must See Temples - # 5 - The Must See Attraction Tirta Empul Temple in Bali (Pura Tirta Empul Bali) – A Temple built by a God
Tirta Empul Temple can be found (Pura Tirta Empul) to the north of Tampak Sering, about 1 kilometre away from Gunung Kawi Temple, about a 30 minute drive from Ubud.
Tirta Empul Temple dates back to 926 AD (Warmadewa dynasty from the 10th to 14th centuries). Legend says that Tirta Empul Temple was built by the god Indra after his force was poisoned by Mayadenawa, the first (Demon-) King of Bali. Indra pierced the earth to revive his forces with the help of the fountain of immorality.
Pura Tirta Empul, which was fully restored in 1969, is nestled in a lush green environment making this Temple simply magical. To reach Tirta Empul Temple’s main attraction guests first have to stroll through the well maintained gardens. One of Pura Tirta Empul’s main attractions, outside of the temple complex, is a carved pool, full of Koi fish.
Pura Tirta Empul, is surrounded by a big wall to keep evil spirits at bay, its location is close to the Government Palace, enthroned on a hill in 1954. The crystal clear and fresh water inside the temple is supplied by 12 sacred spring fountains. The spring which supplies these fountains is also the source of Sungai Pakerisan (Pakerisan River). The bathing area is divided into 3 stone carved sections to separate women from men and to also give the most pure the chance to be separated.
Holy water still plays a very important role in Balinese religion. For this reason the holy water of Tirta Empul Temple, is considered to be one of Bali’s holiest and is even taken home by the locals. The Balinese still believe that the holy water of Tirta Empul Temple has not only magical but also healing powers. They also believe that water from Pura Tirta Empul ensures eternal youth.
Throughout the year, pilgrims from all over Bali meet at Tirta Empul Temple for their ablution. Before worshippers start to bath and pray, they make an offering at the temple.
Tirta Empul Temple is well worth a visit and creates a true understanding of how religious the Balinese really are. It is sad but true that this impression can’t be achieved in the south of Bali anymore and especially not in Kuta.
Restaurants and souvenir stands can be found outside of the temple complex.
Tip1: Buy some food and feed the Koi
Additional Information 1: Tirta is derived from the Sanskrit word “amrita” which means nectar or life elixir.
Temple Guide – Temples in Bali – Taman Ayun Temple
Bali's Must See Temples - # 6 - The Must See Attraction Taman Ayun Temple in Bali or Mengwi Temple Bali (Pura Taman Ahun) – The royal Temple of Mengwi
Taman Ayun Temple, also known as Mengwi Temple because it’s the Royal Temple of Mengwi, is located in Mengwi village and it’s sub district, about 18km north of Denpasar the capital of Bali, in the regency of Badung. Taman Ayun Temple is located relatively close to all major tourist destinations in Bali such as Nusa Dua, Jimbaran, Kuta, Sanur, Seminyak or Ubud and the drive from these destinations takes about 60 – 70 minutes.
Referring to the Lontar Babad Mengwi, a very important historical chronicle for Bali, which was written on banana leaf paper, Mengwi Temple was both re-sanctified and re-named in 1634 to become the Taman Ahyun Temple.
Taman Ayun Temple is simply a beautiful place to visit and it should definitely be put on everybody’s day tour. The complex is surrounded by a wonderfully wide, well maintained and beautifully landscaped garden inviting visitors to go for a longer stroll to escape the hustle and bustle that takes place in the south of the island of the gods. The barbicans still carry a Kulkul, which is a traditional Balinese bell. The wonderful multi-roofed Balinese style Pagodas (Meru) make the perfect postcard picture view. Whilst the huge fish ponds that surround the complex make Taman Ayun look like the temple is floating on water.
Taman Ayun Temple is well maintained and it’s a highly suggested place to visit during a vacation as well as being recommended for travellers of all ages and interests.
Additional Information 1: Only worshippers are allowed to enter the main complex
Additional Information 2: Taman Ayun means “founded in the park”
Additional Information 3: A Kulkul is a giant bell which is either made from wood or bamboo. Various social organizations of the Balinese society use this bell for an assortment of reasons. Obviously as a bell it is used to indicate a time of gathering or a ceremony and even in the past to alert the village during a time of conflict or criminal activity. The groups in Bali are segregated based on traditions, professions or hobbies. The type of the sound that is made from the Kulkul is different for each organization, therefore making it easy for the members to know which group is required. The Kulkul is traditionally made from certain wood such as the wood from a jackfruit tree, an orange tree or other hard wood trees and used to signal the traditional organizations. However those made of bamboo are only for temporary use or only for the temporal groups.
Bali's Undiscovered Temples
Temple Guide – Temples in Bali – Masceti Temple
Bali's Undiscovered Temples and Hidden Beauties - # 1 - Masceti Temple in Bali (Pura Luhur Masceti Bali) – Lord Vishnu’s regular Temple
Masceti Temple (Pura Masceti), is located on the northern shore of Masceti Beach, Medahan Village, Blahbatuh Sub district, Keramas, Gianyar. The trip to Pura Masceti from the famous Kuta area takes about a 1 ½ hours.
Masceti Temple was one of Lord Vishnu’s regular worship destinations, (In Balinese religion Vishnu is described as the maintainer of the Universe). Once, Vishnu was in a relationship with Lakhsmi, the Hindu Goddess of wealth, prosperity (material and spiritual), fortune and the embodiment of beauty. Both spent a lot of time together at Masceti Beach as they liked this area very much, they went to enjoy the scenery but also to have discussions. Usually they were able to find a common ground for all of their debates except for the last one. Vishnu and Lakhsmi started to argue heavily as they had different opinions and this finally caused their separation. After this, Lakhsmi divided the Beach into two partials which are nowadays called Mescati Beach and Saba Beach. Up to the present day, the Balinese believe that the love between couples, who visit Mescati Beach together, will not last forever.
To be perfectly honest, Masceti Temple is not a very exciting temple and apart from some nicely carved stone figurines and the main entrance of the temple facing a wide stretch of pristine beach, it does not have a lot more to offer. Although Mescati Beach (Pantai Masceti) is a very spiritual place and plenty of purification ceremonies are held in this area. Any tourist activity, such as sun bathing or water sport activities, on Masceti Beach are not tolerated and strictly prohibited. The area is one of the most peaceful areas in Bali, the complete opposite of Kuta and reflects Bali’s real face. If spiritual tourism is being craved, then this is one of the places in Bali that shouldn’t be missed!
Tip 1: Don’t visit the temple whilst in a relationship as the love will not last forever.
Temple Guide – Temples in Bali – Elephant Cave Temple
Bali's Undiscovered Temples and Hidden Beauties - # 2 - Elephant Cave Temple in Bali (Pura Goa Gajah Bali) – A cave Temple made by Hindu priests
Goa Gajah or Elephant Cave (in close proximity to the Elephant River) is located west of Bedulu countryside, Blah Batuh Sub district in Gianyar Regency, 15 minutes outside Ubud, about 27km from Denpasar or 1 ½ hour’s drive from Kuta.
Legends tell us that the Elephant Cave was built in the 9th century and even the first mention of Goa Gajah was in the Javanese poem Desawarnana, which was written in 1365. The natural cave forms a tunnel like entry to the main area where the offerings are usually placed.
At Goa Gajah plenty of fantastic stone carvings as well as some Koi Ponds can be seen and without doubt the guides hanging out in front of the entrance, which can be hired for a small fee (max 5 USD) have very interesting stories to tell such as the leading theory that suggests that Goa Gajah was used as a hermitage or sanctuary by Hindu priests who dug the cave entirely by hand.
Goa Gajah is still a place of active worship and the chance to see some of the mystical Balinese ceremonies might be available.
Tip 1: Pura Goa Gajah is not suitable for elderly people or people with arthritis or bad knees as everyone has to manage plenty of stairs and the walk through the jungle is quite challenging.
Temple Guide – Temples in Bali – Alas Kedaton Temple
Bali's Undiscovered Temples and Hidden Beauties - # 3 - Alas Kedaton Temple in Bali (Pura Alas Kedaton Bali) – A Temple that provides lots of wildlife as well
Ubud’s monkey forest is a great location for sure, but for those who can’t find the time to go to Ubud and have planned to go to Tanah Lot anyway, or stay in Canggu, Seminyak or Kuta, Nusa Dua or Jimbaran, Alas Kedaton also creates the possibility to see wild monkeys. With a total forest size of about 11.5ha, located in between Tabanan’s rice fields, this green area offers the perfect environment for lots of bats and more than 20 grove plants.
Temple Guide – Temples in Bali – Jagatnatha Temple
Bali's Undiscovered Temples and Hidden Beauties - # 4 - Jagatnatha Temple Bali (Pura Jagatnatha Bali) – The biggest Temple in Bali’s busiest city
Jagatnatha Temple, located in the center of Bali’s capital ‘Denpasar City’, about 45 minutes’ drive from Kuta, east of Puputan Badung Square Garden, and is the biggest temple in Bali’s busiest city.
Due to the strategically perfect location, Pura Jagatnatha is still a very busy temple. Especially during Bali’s most important holidays such as Galungan and Kuningan but also during full moon, both, family members and young Balinese students are praying together at this temple. Jagatnatha Temple is categorized as Kahyangan Temple and become an altar to the god for Hindu people.
The difference between Jagatnatha Temple and other temples is that the maintenance is not done by Pengemong (a group of local villagers or organized teams), the support comes in this case from worshipers, praying regularly at Pura Jagatnatha and volunteers.
Due to the plenty of ceremonies and activities at Jagatnatha Temple, it has become over the last years a very popular attraction and is visited by thousands of tourists all over the year.
Temple Guide – Temples in Bali – Kebo Edan Temple
Bali's Undiscovered Temples and Hidden Beauties - # 5 - Kebo Edan Temple in Bali (Pura Kebo Edan Bali) – The ancient Temple of Kebo Edan
Kebo Edan Temple Bali (Pura Kebo Edan) is located in the West Gianyar Regency in Pejeng Village, near the famous Penataran Sasih Temple and already has attracted numerous travellers as well as foreign archaeologists.
Kebo Edan is thought to have been built in the 13th century after Kertanegara conquered the Kingdom of Bali in 1282 AD.
Many historical artefacts of pre Hinduism remain hidden at the ancient temple of Kebo Edan, which translates to “Crazy Buffalo”. This refers to the animals which guard the cave – two buffalo carvings.
It formerly functioned as a place of worship for the Bhairawa sect, the remains of which are still housed in the temple. The most spectacular is a huge sculpture of Bhairawa, symbolizing the God of death, and Shiva, who is shown to be dancing.
Temple Guide – Temples in Bali – Samuan Tiga Temple
Bali's Undiscovered Temples and Hidden Beauties - # 6 - Samuan Tiga Temple in Bali (Pura Samuan Tiga Bali) – An interesting Temple offering unique architecture
Pura Samuan Tiga, an exceptionally unique temple situated in the village of Bedulu, 25km from Denpasar, 5km from Ubud (between Ubud and Tampaksiring), and only 400m from the Elephant Cave (Goa Gajah) sanctuary.
Built in the 10th century in the reign of King Chandrasangka Warmadewa (a Balinese King who ruled in the 10th century), this sacred temple was the royal temple of the ancient Warmadewa dynasty.
The Balinese believe that Pura Samuan Tiga is a venue for the great meeting of the gods, deities, and saints.
Pura Samuan Tiga offers unique architecture and a stunning view, it’s flanked by two rivers the Pande and Tegending on the east side and the remains of an ancient pool on the west side, with sacred Banyan, Pule and Curiga trees growing around the site. The temple has seven courtyards separated by walls and split gates, but it’s connected by stairs that lead up to the innermost courtyard, which is believed to be the meeting hall of three holy spirits.
Additional Information 1: The Name Samuan Tiga is derived from the two Balinese words tiga, which means three and samuan which means meetings.
Temple Guide – Temples in Bali – Rambut Siwi Temple
Bali's Undiscovered Temples and Hidden Beauties - # 7 - Rambut Siwi Temple Bali (Pura Rambut Siwi Bali) – A Temple with sublime ocean views
Rambut Siwi Temple (Pura Rambut Siwi) is located in the Regency of Jembrana, in the north-western part of Bali, close to Negara, between Yeh Embang and Yeh Sumbu Village in Mendoyo district. The one-way trip from Kuta takes about 2.5 hours.
Pura Rambut Siwi dates back to the 16th century and it also looks like Dangh Hyang Nirartha, (also see Uluwatu Temple and Goa Lawah) had influenced the name and the final construction of this temple. Legends say, when he arrived from East Java, Nirartha also visited Rambut Siwi Temple. The entrance guard forced the priest to pray at Pura Rambut Siwi to avoid tiger attacks. Nirartha followed his orders and did his meditation (yoga samadi). A short while after Nirartha’s ceremony, a building inside the temple collapsed. Shocked and confused the guard asked for Nirartha’s forgiveness and begged for help to rebuild the temple. The Holy priest agreed and after the work was done, he untied his hair pulled it and gave some locks to the guard. He finally asked the guard to store his hair in the holy building (pelinggih) to bless every pilgrim.
Rambut Siwi Temple, one of the biggest temples in Bali, is an amazing complex with stunning ocean views. It is surrounded by several other temples (Pesanggrahan Temple – located on the side of Denpasar-Gilimanuk road, Taman Temple – located in the east of the entrance to Rambut Siwi Temple, Penataran Temple – located east of Rambut Siwi, Goa Tirta Temple, Melanting Temple, Gading Wani Temple and Ratu Gede Dalem Ped Temple).
The people are very friendly, the guides are a fountain of knowledge and the prices are very reasonable. This temple complex deserves everybody’s attention and is well worth the 2.5 hour drive.
Tip 1: Stroll along the black sandy shore and enjoy the local restaurants.
Additional Information 1: The name of this cliff edge temple is derived from the Dangh Hyang Nirartha story.
Rambut is the Indonesian word for Hair and Siwi means worshiper, which finally means nothing else then “the priest’s hair”!