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Home > All About Bali > Temples
 
Temples
 
 
Uluwatu Temple Sadha Kapal Temple
Taman Ayun Temple Kehen Temple
Pancering Jagat Temple Penulisan Temple
Pulaki Temple Meduwe Karang Temple
Rambut Siwi Temple Besakih Temple
Goa Lawah (Bat Cave Temple) Luhur Batukaru Temple
Batur Temple Tanah Lot Temple
Jagatnatha Temple Makori Temple
Tampak Siring Sakenan Temple
Maospahit Temple Petilan Pengrebongan Temple
 
Bali is known as an island of thousands temples. In every village in Bali, there are several temples and at least one small temple in each home of Balinese which reach to a total of 10.000.

Balinese word for temple is ‘pura’ which means 'space surrounded by a wall'. Although many temples are quiet and uninhabited, they are transformed into colorful, active and decorated places of worship when there is a festival. While offerings are made, performances of traditional dances and gamelan, cockfighting and gambling enliven the atmosphere.

All temples derive their direction from the mountains and the sea. 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.

There are three fundamental types of temple in every village. Pura Puseh (temple of origin) remains the most important and is reserved for founders of villages. It is always situated at the kaja 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 end of the village is the Pura Dalem (temple of the dead) as well as the 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 honored in the Pura Dalem.
 
Uluwatu Temple
Located at the western most tip of Bukit Peninsula, this temple is one of Bali's Kayangan Jagat Temples. Its location is dramatic, perched on the edge of a high cliff with a picturesque sunset view. The temple is carved from the enormous limestone rock. ‘Ulu’ means head, ‘watu’ means rock, and ‘Luhur’ implies heavenly, ancestral, original and transcendent all at once.

Uluwatu Temple was first used for worship by the holy 11th century priest, Empu Kuturan, who came to Bali to convey religious law and to form Desa Adat (traditional villages).

This temple was then used for worship by the next holy priest, Dang Hyang Nirartha, who came to Bali at the end of 1550 and ended his holy voyage in this area.
 
Sadha Kapal Temple
This temple is famous for its detailed and beautiful decorative carving. Dating from Majapahit period, it originally was an old dynasty sanctuary (prasada) of Ratu Jayengrat, a noble, who sailed from Majapahit and stranded on the coral reef at Kapal Village.

This temple was destructive by earthquake in 1917 and has not been restored until 1950. The split gate and a 16meter high tower inside the temple are constructed much like ‘candi’ (temple) in Java. The 64 stone seats, similar to megalithic shrines, memorialize warriors who died in battle.
 
Taman Ayun Temple

Taman Ayun which means beautiful garden, is located in Mengwi Village, 18 km northwest of Denpasar. It was built in 1634 by I Gusti Agung Anom, a founder of the Mengwi Kingdom, and became the main temple for the ancient Mengwi Kingdom. The temple is surrounded by ponds which give the effect from a distance as if the temple is floating on water.

Taman Ayun Temple was renovated in 1937. The grassy area of the outermost courtyard, the fine array of roofs (merus) and pavilions in the inner courtyard, and its well-kept appearance make it one of the most beautiful temples in Bali.

The temple complex consists of three ground areas. In the outermost court is Bale Wantilan which is used for all events, religious ceremonies, dance performances or cock fighting. To the west, there is a decorative fountain called Padma Sana. In the innermost court, surrounded by a small pond, there are 29 buildings which function as places for the gods and goddesses, called Bale Pelik with beautiful carvings, interesting relics and statues of the nine gods, Dewa Nawa Sanga. The whole complex of temple symbolizes the great Mandhara Mountain turning in a sea of milk.
 
Kehen Temple
Kehen Temple, one of ancient temples in Bali, is located at the south of Bangli in Cempaga village, about 43km from Denpasar. It was built by Sri Bhatara Guru Adikunti Ketana who reigned Bangli kingdom in the 12th century in a terraced mountain sanctuary. The people of Bangli believe that Kehen Temple is the largest and the most sacred temple of the region and regard it as the state temple of Bangli.

This temple is worshipped by people around the village. The ceremony takes place on Rabu Kliwon Shinta where Ngusaba ritual is held one in a three years period, which is on fifth Purnama around November.

Kehen Temple offers an authentic Balinese temple atmosphere. It has three courtyards connected by steps, and is decorated with carvings and statues. In the first courtyard is a huge Banyan tree, surrounded by walls inlaid with Chinese porcelain. In the next courtyard, multi-roofed shrines (merus) dominate the area. On the right side of this inner courtyard are three throne shrines representing the Hindu Trinity, Brahma, Wisnu and Siwa.

Besides its magnificent panorama, Kehen Temple has a variety of ancient manuscripts. There is a manuscript about the slaughter of a black bull during a feast held in the temple in the year 1204.

At the foot of the stairway is an old temple, which has a collection of historical manuscripts inscribed on bronze plates. Statues, carved in a shadow puppet style, line the first terrace from which steps lead to the most important gate (the Great Exit). Like other split gates found in all Balinese temples, above the gate looms the hideous face and splayed hands of Kala Makara. This terrifying creature symbolizes the demonic one who catches harmful spirits and prevents them from entering the sacred space. On the other side of this area is a statue of a villager gesturing a welcome to visitors.
 
Pancering Jagat Temple
Pancering Jagat Temple is located in Trunyan village, Kintamani. The temple’s name is taken from Arca da Tonta or Ratu Gede Pusering Jagat, a megalithic 4-meter high statue. The ceremony in this temple is usually held on Purnamaning Sasih Kapat around October.

Barong Brutuk dance is performed on the ceremony to commemorate the legendary wedding anniversary of Ratu Sakti Pancering Jagat; the guardian of the village and Ratu Ayu Dalem Pingit (Ratu Ayu Dalem Dasar). This dance can only be performed by adolescent boys (Sekeha Teruna) of that village. The boys, together with the village elders, must fulfill certain requirements such as be successful in holiness ceremony for 42 days in Pancering Jagat Temple with certain offerings.
 
Penulisan Temple
Bukit Penulisan (Penulisan hill) is located at 1745m above sea level, approximately 3km from Kintamani, or 30km from the capital city of Bangli. Bukit Penulisan is also called Bukit Tunggal because its site is separated from mountain range stretches along from west to east of Bali.

Around 9th century, Tegeh Koripan Temple was built on Bukit Penulisan. It is also known as Puncak Penulisan Temple since it is located on the peak of Bukit Penulisan.

An old stairway leads to Puncak Penulisan Temple, the ancient temple as well as the highest temple in the island. During a clear day, the view is breathtaking. The temple is even more romantic and mysterious when covered in a foggy mist.
 
Pulaki Temple
Pulaki Temple is located in Bayupoh Village, about 53km west of Singaraja. It is situated on a hill that is about 25m from the beach. This temple is inhabited by monkeys which are considered as the descendants of Dewa (Gods).

Pulaki Temple is one of the Sad Kahyangan Temples (the main temples) in Bali. There are also Pabena Temple and Pemuteran Temple which is well-known for its hot water nearby.
 
Meduwe Karang Temple
Meduwe Karang Temple is located in Kubutambahan Village, 12km east of Singaraja. This temple is a place to pray for the plantation to be fruitful.

The stairs are guiding the visitors to the big area of the temple. In front of the temple there are rows of statues telling the story of Ramayana. The inner part of the temple is the most sacred for Hinduism people. It is decorated with carvings reflecting the nobleness and the daily life.
 
Rambut Siwi Temple
Rambut Siwi Temple is located on the top of a cliff, overlooking a breathtaking view of paddy fields on one side and the black sandy beach on the other.

This spot is a favorite hangout for painters. The temple itself was built by Dang Hyang Nirartha. Legend has it that he dedicated his hair to the temple. Therefore, the temple is known as Rambut Siwi which literally means ‘hair worship’.
 
Besakih Temple
Besakih Temple, over 900 meters up the slopes of Mount Agung, is the largest and most sacred Hindu temples in the island. It is named after Naga Besukian, the dragon god thought by pre-Hindu Balinese to inhabit Mount Agung, the highest mountain in Bali. Besakih Temple has been regarded as a central, holy temple for the entire island since the Gelgel Dynasty of the 15th century. Today, it is referred by all Balinese as the mother temple of Bali.

Over a thousand years and more, Besakih Temple was extended to the present complex of about 30 temples. There are three main temples within Besakih Temple; Pura Penataran Agung, dedicated to Sang Hyang Widi Wasa. Inside the main courtyard stands the three-seated shrine enthroning the Trisakti, the trinity of Brahma, Visnu and Siwa. During festivals the shrines are wrapped in colored cloth symbolic of the deities.

The other two main temples are Pura Kiduling Kreteg, dedicated to Brahma; and Pura Batu Madeg, dedicated to Wisnu.

For Balinese people, a visit to the temple sanctuaries at Besakih is a special pilgrimage. Each temple has its own anniversary ceremony (Odalan) and on the full moon (Kedasa) the entire compound of Besakih commemorates the visit of the gods with an enormous mass of visiting pilgrims.
 
Goa Lawah (Bat Cave Temple)
Goa Lawah is one of the most sacred temples in Bali, built by the high priest ‘Empu Kuturan’ in 11th century. The center of the temple is built around a natural cave inhabited by thousands of bats hanging down and flying around, as well as holy python snakes. Legend has it that this cave is a dwelling place of Naga Basuki, the mythical and sacred dragon of the Mount Agung as well as the guardian of Besakih temple.

This temple is located in Wates village, on the southeast coast of Bali, west of Candidasa, approximately 50km east of Denpasar. It is considered as one of the important temples in the island. Balinese people come to this temple with offerings to complete a cremation ceremony, called Nyegara Gunung ceremony.

This temple was used as a place of worship by the King of Klungkung in the 17th century. Goa Lawah was also used to test the people who found guilty of breaking the law.

Around the 17th century, a dispute happened between the King of Mengwi's sons, I Gusti Ngurah Made Agung and I Gusti Ketut Agung. I Gusti Ketut Agung was not accepted as the descendant of the King of Mengwi. He was sent to be tested by the King of Klungkung who was respected as the highest king. The King of Klungkung asked I Gusti Ketut Agung to enter Goa Lawah. If he came out alive he would be acknowledged as a descendant. I Gusti Ketut Agung accepted the sentence, entered the cave and finally came out in Besakih.

Based on the King of Klungkung’s decision, he then was acknowledged as a part of the King of Mengwi's family. He was known as I Gusti Ketut Agung Besakih when he became a king. It is said that he became deaf because of entering the cave.
 
Luhur Batukaru Temple
Luhur Watukaru Temple is located in Wangaya Gede village, approximately 21 km northwest of Tabanan. This temple is one of six sacred temples (Sad Kahyangan) in Bali.

The temple is surrounded by thick foliage and refreshing fresh air. There are old Balinese remains in this temple. Numerous local and foreign visitors visit this temple, especially on its temple festival, which is usually held on Umanis Galungan, one day after Galungan.
 
Batur Temple (Ulun Danu Batur Temple)
Batur Temple, also known as Ulun Danu Batur Temple, is located in Kalanganyar, Batur village, Kintamani, approximately 900 meters above sea level. It is also known as the Temple of the Crater Lake, dedicated to the Lake Goddess Ida Batara Dewi Ulun Danu, and Tirta Empul, where run the holiest waters of Bali, believed to have magical curative powers.

Batur Temple is the second largest temple in the island. Huge ceremony, called Ngusaba ke Dasa, is held here every year.In the past, Batur Temple was located on the south western slope of mount Batur. After the destructive eruption in 1917 which ruined the temple. Head of the village along with the villagers brought the surviving shrines and rebuilt Batur Temple to the higher place in Kalanganyar.

In 1927, the people of Batur rebuilt Ulun Danu Temple which once lay at the foot of the volcano. Most of the 285 planned shrines are yet to be completed. At present, the temple is simply designed.
 
 
Tanah Lot Temple
Tanah Lot, located on the west coast of Bali, in Beraban village in Tabanan regency, is one of the most popular sites in Bali. Tanah Lot means the ancient land as well as the land to the south.

This temple was built in the 15th century by the priest Pedanda Bahu Rawuh or Danghyang Nirartha from Majapahit Kingdom. During his voyage along the south coast he caught sight of a rock island and rested there. Some fishermen noticed him and invited him to stay at their hut. Nirartha refused, saying he preferred to spend the night on the little island. That evening, he talked to the fishermen and advised them to build a shrine on the rock. Nirartha felt it would be a holy and appropriate place to worship God.

Built on a small cape, Tanah Lot is only accessible at low tide. During high tide, the rock appears as a large ship at sea. There are several small and big shrines nearby, the biggest one is Pekendungan Temple. There is a spring considered sacred not far from this temple.

Poisonous snakes inhabit the nearby caves as the guardian of the temple. The perfect time to visit Tanah Lot is at the sunset when the golden red sky surrounds the temple and the wave crashes into the rocks.

Though Tanah Lot is a small sanctuary, it is related to several sea temples on the south coast of Bali: Pura Sakenan, Pura Uluwatu, Pura Rambut Siwi and Pura Petitenget. All these temples are related to the primary mountain sanctuaries: Besakih at Mount Agung, Pura Batur at Batur and Pura Luhur at Mount Batukaru.
 
Jagatnatha Temple
Jagadnatha Temple is located in Denpasar, on the north side of Museum Bali and the east side of Puputan Square. It is built towards the west as any other temples in Bali.

This temple is built as the result of Parisada Dharma Hindu Bali’s convention on November 20, 1961 in Campuhan, Ubud, Gianyar. One of decisions is to establish the center of religious educational activity to intensify the Hindu religion in Bali especially and Indonesia generally.

Every fifteen days, on the full moon and on the dark moon, this temple is full of Hindu's people coming to pray which most of them are from Denpasar. Sometimes, after the praying ceremony, the shadow puppet show (Wayang) is held in the afternoon and the evening beside this temple.
 
Makori Temple
Makori Temple is located in Blimbing village, 55km from Denpasar or 32km from Tabanan. This temple consists of many stones hidden in the forest. It does not similar to other temple in Bali, but it is a place where people pray to their God.
 
Tampak Siring
Tirta Empul Temple is built at Tampak Siring around the sacred spring which is believed to have magical curative powers. It is said that the God Indra created the spring when he pierced the earth to build the Amerta, the elixir of immortality, with which he revived his forces whom were poisoned by Mayadanawa.

Over 1000 years old, the temple and its two bathing places have been used by the people for good health and prosperity because of the spring water's healing powers. Regular ceremonies are held for purification, especially pregnant women and those who have endured a long sickness. On the full moon of the fourth month each year, the villagers from nearby Manukaya take a sacred stone to be cleansed at Tirta Empul.

On the hill above the sacred spring is the Government Palace, built in 1954 which was once a resting home for Dutch officials. It was also the former President Soekarno’s residence during his frequent trips to the island.

On the south of Tirta Empul, near Mount Kawi, there is Mengening Temple. There is a relation between these three places. Mengening Temple also has a spring of pure water. It is considered as the memorial temple of King Udayana.
 
Sakenan Temple
Sakenan Temple is built in the 13th century by a holy priest ‘Dang Hyang Dwijendra’ on a small island called Serangan Island near Benoa Harbour and Nusa Dua.

This temple is divided into two parts. Inside the first part, there is a shrine of Cri Cedana or Dewi Sri, the goddess of prosperity and welfare. In the second part of Sakenan Temple, there are shrines for the Prasanak, the relatives of Dewi Sri who come to visit the temple on its anniversary day.

On the holy day of Manis Kuningan, Sakenan Temple commemorates the anniversary of its founder Mpu Kuturan. The festival is held in two days which begins on the last day of Kuningan Wuku and ends on the first day of Langkir Wuku.
 
Maospahit Temple
Maospahit Temple was built around 14th century. It was restored following a large earthquake in 1917. It is associated with Majapahit Kingdom as parts of this ancient temple imitated from Majapahit Kingdom.
Some relics of the Maospahit Temple:
Gedong has two Arca Terracota which put at right left entrance.
Gedong Kemimitan has one Arca Terracota Pergina and one fragment Arca Terracota.
Candi Bentar has relic of Garuda on the left side and relic of Bima on the right side.
Maospahit Temple used to be a kingdom temple when Badung kingdom was still the authority. Nowadays, there are 20 families who take care the temple and its ceremony.
 
Petilan Pengrebongan Temple
Petilan Pengerebongan Temple is located at Kesiman Petilan Village, East Denpasar. This temple is one of Dang Kahyangan and is well-known for its Ngerebong ceremony. Petilan Pengerebongan Temple consists of two parts: Jeroan temple and Jaba temple. It is in wantilan hall of Jaba temple, Ngerebong ceremony takes place.

Ngerebong ceremony is a religious ceremony which involves a large number of barongs and rangdas. Along with a large number of people who become in trance, they encircle the wantilan hall three times in a long procession.
 
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