Top Temples To Visit In Bali (P.1)
No visit to Bali is complete without trips to its sacred temples. But there are hundreds of temples all over Bali, the question is which one that you should not miss and what makes each site unique? Here are our suggestions for the top 10 temples that need to be on your checklist, and you’ll understand why this is the Island of the Gods.
- Tanah Lot Temple
Considered the most famous temple of Bali, Tanah Lot enjoys an incredible location and surrounding. the temple stands on top of a giant rock overlooking the sea. It was built to worship the Sea God Bhatara Segara. The sacred temple is only 300m offshore and can be reached by walking during low tides, yet its ground is only opened for Balinese pilgrims.
The history of this impressive temple is believed to date back to the 16th century, by Dang Hyang Nirartha, a respected religious figure in Bali with mighty supernatural powers. He travelled to Bali in 1489 to spread Hinduism. He arrived at the beautiful area and established a site honouring the sea god, Baruna. Here, he shared his teachings to Beraban villagers, only to face the village chief’s opposition, who gathered his people to dispel Nirartha.
The priest resisted, incredibly shifting a large rock he meditated upon out to sea and transformed his sashes into sea snakes to guard at its base. The rock’s original name, Tengah Lod, means ‘in the sea’. Acknowledging Nirartha’s powers, the chief became his loyal follower. This was the rock where the holy temple was later built on.
Uluwatu Temple, or Pura Luhur Uluwatu, is a must-see temple in Bali, second only to the iconic Tanah Lot. The temple is also renowned for its spectacular location, sitting on top of a high limestone cliff, about 700m above the sea level. The view of the ocean touching the skyline and crashing waves on the rocks below is breathtaking. Words alone cannot do the scenery justice, you’ll have to see it with your own eyes.
Dated back to the 10th century, this sacred site is believed to protect Bali from the evil sea spirits. It is surrounded by lush forest, home to the cheeky grey long-tailed macaques, so watch out for your belongings when visiting the temple.
One of the best times to capture the beauty of Uluwatu temple is during sunset when the temple and its surrounding are cast in the golden light. The views then become even more magnificent! During sunset time, you can also sit down and watch a traditional Kecak performance at the open-air theatre just a few hundred metres from the temple.
Ubud – the charming cultural heart of Bali is home to one of the most special temples on the island. Tirta Empul Temple (Pura Tirta Empul), literally means Holy Water Temple, is where many of the iconic photos of people in the natural spring pools were taken.
The site is an immense temple complex, dedicated to the water god Vishnu. Before entering the temple, make sure you have a sarong with you or hire it at the entrance with a small donation. The main area or Jaba Tengah consists of two spring pools, is where people queuing to dip their heads under the waterspouts. There are 30 waterspouts in total. Once they have cleansed themselves under the first spout, they join the next queue. This process is continued until they have cleansed themselves under each waterspout.
Many tourists may miss the inner courtyard of Tirta Empul, but this part of the temple is just as captivating with the large Hindu shrines and the large water spring that feeds the purification pools. The water is crystal-clear and filled with green algae and small fish. There is also a large pool swamped by giant koi fish, their size alone already amaze visitors!
- Besakih Temple
A name that fits for the temple – Pura Besakih, means the Mother Temple, is the most prominent temple in Bali. Standing proudly on the western slopes of the sacred Mount Agung, the temple complex covers a massive area with twenty-two temples on six rising terraces set on parallel ridges. From ancient times, this temple has been regarded as a holy place and the Balinese’ centre of Hinduism. Pura Besakih was built about 1000 AD, dedicated to the Dragon God Besakih, who inhabited the sacred Mount Agung.
There are many temples and courtyards in the complex, but only a few are opened for visitors, the rest is reserved for worship. However, thanks to its privileged location, the temple offers some of the best views of Bali with the sight of the mighty Mount Agung and fertile rice paddies, so enjoy your time visiting Besakih Temple!
- Lempuyang Luhur Temple
Lempuyang Temple stands at the peak of the holy Mount Lempuyang in East Bali. This is one of the most ancient and sacred temples in Bali, on par with Pura Besakih. To get to this site, you will conquer a pilgrim or a long staircase to be exact, of 1,700 steps. Right at the foot of Lempuyang mountain, your eyes will already be caught with the towering dragon staircases.
But the truly spectacular scenery is waiting at the top of the mountain. While it can take 1.5 – 2 hours to reach Lempuyang temple, the journey is enjoyable thanks to the eye-catching overview of other temples, evergreen forests as well as of the famous Mount Agung. You’ll also feel a sense of calmness and respite wash over your mind and body as soon as you get to the holy temple.
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