Religion is a fundamental part of the life of the Balinese and that is evident in the air as soon as you step on the island … for something it is called the “Island of the Gods”. The temples are called “Pura” and have the highest density of temples in the world!
Each Balinese house has its own temple, the “Temple of the Family”. The island of Bali is the only one in Indonesia that can be considered Hindu, the rest of the country is Muslim
All the temples are divided into three parts, the last zone is restricted only to the premises that are going to do some ceremony. Remember that you should go dressed properly, in some temples you should wear the “sarong” (if you do not have it you can rent it). You have to be respectful with the environment and with the people who are going to do ceremonies.
9 Bali Temples Essential:
1. The Mother Temple “Pura Besakih”
Located in Besakih, it is the most important temple in Bali. It is on the slope of the Agung volcano and contains 22 different temples. It is huge but do not hesitate to visit the highest area, at the end there is a temple with a dragon-shaped staircase that is incredible:
The Pura Penataran Agung is the main temple of the complex. Other of the best known are the three dedicated to the Hindu trinity: Shiva (the destroyer), Brahma (the creator) and Vishnu (the preserver). This temple is a must for the Balinese … for example, when someone dies, they must do part of the rituals here.
A must visit in Bali. The entrance is for payment but it is NOT necessary to hire any guide to enter (even though they tell you otherwise in the entrance). It is impressive because of the size of the complex and because there are usually ceremonies that you can see but there are other prettier temples … Throughout the year there are more than 70 celebrations here so it is possible that during your visit you will see some.
2. Temple of the Lake “Pura Ulun Danu Bratan”
This temple is located north of Bali, here due to the height (1200m) the climate is cooler and there is usually mist in the mountains .. It is located on the waters of the Bratan volcano (the oldest on the island). It was built in the 17th century and is dedicated to Dewi Danu, the goddess of water
It is one of the most visited in Bali and has many followers normally peasants … it is necessary to say that each inhabitant belongs to one of the lineages according to their ancestors … there are peasants, warriors, royalty, etc … although nowadays the trades they are no longer the same as before and this difference is maintained and each lineage will pray to certain temples. The entrance is paid but quite cheap. An essential visit and one of the most photographed! His image is found even in the 50,000 rupee notes.
3. Temple in the sea “Tanah lot”
This is the Hindu Temple of the Earth in the Sea. It was built in the sixteenth century on an island about 100 meters from the coast. Depending on the state of the tide may be isolated by the sea at certain times of the day. The temple is dedicated to the guardian spirits of the sea. Perhaps it is the most famous religious complex on the island due to its location on the edge of the cliffs and the spectacular sunsets! Without a doubt one of the best hours to come is during the sunset.
4. Pura Batu Bolong Temple
Located next to the Temple of Tanah lot this is a small sanctuary located on a rock in the form of a natural bridge. From 7 in the afternoon there are usually fire dance performances in the surrounding area … you can visit this temple at the same time as the temple of its neighbor “Tanah lot”. The access to the rock of the temple itself is prohibited since a Chinese tourist died while falling while doing a selfie. This is why the best place to see it is from the gardens on the way to the “Tanah lot”
5. Luhur Uluwatu Temple
This temple is located on a cliff 75 meters high. The rocky landscape is what makes it so special. As in the area of Ubud here there are also some very special inhabitants: the monkeys! It was built in the 10th century to protect the island of Bali from evil spirits. Coming with the sunset light is one of the best options. Balinese dance performances (Kecak Dance) are held every day at 6:00 pm (entrance fee).
To see the temple with the sunset it is best to walk through a small walk along the cliff to get the best perspective.
6. “Pura Goa Gajah Temple” or Elephant Cave
This is a religious complex built in the eleventh century and since its inception was a meditation center for priests throughout the island. The most famous place is the cave: The entrance is formed by a huge stone carving with an open mouth. Inside we find a sculpture of Ganesh with elephant aspect. Although there are no elephants on the island, it seems that the place was associated with wisdom and hence the name of the temple. (Ganesh, son of Shiva is associated with intelligence and wisdom).
It was used by both Hindus and Buddhists, being one of the few examples of the island where you can appreciate the coexistence between both religions.
The outdoor pools were discovered in the 1950s and now visitors can be purified before prayer. Admission is paid and the visiting hours are from 8 am to 18 pm.
7. Tirta Empul Temple
Close to the town of Ubud, here the faithful come to purify themselves by immersing themselves in the temple pools. The name “Tirta Empul” means “clear stream like crystal”. Its holy water is used to purify itself and for various religious ceremonies. The spring waters are believed to have magical healing powers. The rectangular stone pool is filled by the sacred spring through 12 fountains.
8. Tirta Gangga Temple
This temple is known as the Water Palace. It was partially destroyed by the eruption of the Agung volcano in 1963 but still has intact places. At the entrance, a large fountain with 11 levels is surprising, along with the main pool filled with statues of the gods. It is the most photogenic place in the temple and you can walk across the lake between the statues following the path marked by the rocks in the water.
9. The Temple of the Kings “Gunung Kawi”
This temple is dedicated to the god of water and is located between rice fields quite close to Ubud. The peculiarity of this temple is that it is excavated in the rock. What makes it more mysterious is that the meaning or purpose of the temple has not yet been fully discovered.
Gunung Kawi is a place of spiritual rest but not of physical burial … that is to say that despite what some guides say … there is no one buried here. In the rock you will see the ‘Candi’ that are rare on the island, about 15 and 11 are known in this complex. Its construction dates from the beginning of the s. XI and were more common on the island of Java. The place is surrounded by rice fields and palm trees which makes the visit more special.