Wandering Around: Balinese Temples

Friday, March 7, 2014

Tirtagangga Temple

After spending a couple weeks in Bali, Indonesia, I was both renewed and exhausted. There is no shortage of things to do—surfing in Padang Padang, power yoga in Ubud, tea and coffee tasting in Goa Ganja, but possibly the most shocking and memorable activity was witnessing the diversity and splendor of the Balinese temples. After all, there are more than 10,000 of them to see. Needless to say, I didn't see them all, but here are my five favorites.

1. Uluwatu Temple, or Pura Luhur Uluwatu, one of six key temples believed to be Bali's spiritual pillars, is renowned for its awesome location, perched on top of a steep cliff about 70 meters above sea level. Pura Luhur Uluwatu is definitely one of the top places on the island to go to for sunsets, with direct views overlooking the Indian Ocean and daily Kecak dance performances. Balinese architecture, traditionally-designed gateways, and ancient sculptures add to Uluwatu Temple's appeal. Beware: you'll also be sharing the spectacular views with thousands of monkeys who call this sanctuary home, and they're so keen on sharing the space with humans.

2. The Tirtagangga Temple is surreal. Somehow it escapes the list of top temples to visit, which often leaves visitors with the place to themselves (see picture). The water is swimmable here, and is believed to have healing and cleansing powers. The former royal palace of Tirtagangga (which means water of the Ganges) has everything from tiered fountains and gardens to stone sculptures of mythical creatures spouting water into bathing pools. Just outside the palace grounds, the views of the lush rice paddies of northeastern Bali are stunning. We spent about two hours here, but we could've easily spent more. It's stunning.

3. Tanah Lot Temple is one of Bali’s most important landmarks, famed for its unique offshore setting and sunset backdrops. An ancient Hindu shrine perched on top of an outcrop amidst constantly crashing waves - it's one you can't miss! Thousands of monkeys roam the temple as well, and the site is dotted with smaller shrines alongside restaurants, shops and a cultural park presenting regular dance performances. The temple is located in the Beraban village of the Tabanan regency, about 20 kilometers northwest of Kuta, and is included on most tours to Bali’s western and central regions.

4. The Ulun Danu Beratan Temple is both a famous picturesque landmark and a significant temple complex located on the western side of the Beratan Lake in Bedugul, central Bali. The whole Bedugul area is a favorite cool upland weekend and holiday retreat for locals and island visitors alike. The smooth, reflective surface of the lake surrounding most of the temple’s base creates a unique floating impression, while the mountain range of the Bedugul region encircling the lake provides the temple with a scenic backdrop.

5. Goa Gajah’s name is slightly misleading, lending the impression that it’s a gigantic dwelling full of elephants. Nevertheless, Goa Gajah Elephant Cave is an archaeological site of significant historical value that makes it an interesting place to visit. Located on the cool, western edge of Bedulu Village, six kilometers out of central Ubud, you don't need more than an hour to walk around to its relic-filled courtyard and view the rock-wall carvings, a central meditation cave, bathing pools and fountains.

1 comment:

  1. wow this is incredible. what richness other cultures have to offer.
    thank you for sharing your adventures!



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