Temple Tour in Bali
The majority of Balinese practises ‘Balinese Hinduism’ which is a form of Hinduism.It is different from what we know of those in India because along with the traditional Gods in Hindu, they also worship deities of ‘nature’ such Dewi Sri, the goddess of rice and gods associated with mountains, lakes and the sea.
After the ‘The Nature Sights of Bali’, let me share a photo-essay of the temples we visited.
The photos were taken with a Canon Point and Shoot. However, we didn’t take a lot of scenery pictures then so I have only these to show.
1. The Mother Temple of Bersakih
The Bersakih Temple or Pura Besakih, was the first temple our driver and guide brought us to. It is in the village of Besakih on the slopes of Mount Agung, in the east of Bali. Mount Agung last erupted in 1963-1964 and is still active, so there is a risk of an eruption in this area.
As we walked up the slope, we entered a huge place with many small pagoda temples and walled compounds. Our guide didn’t follow us in our exploration as he said he couldn’t (probably because the temple staff wanted to earn from us), so we just freely explored by ourselves, not really understanding what each structure was for. Before walking in, we also encountered children running to us and one even place a flower on my arm. Our guide advised me not to take anything or give anything to them as it would just be never-ending. Hence, we just ignored them.
A check presently on Tripadvisor showed reviews about scams happening in this place, where they would ask you to pay exorbitant prices for a tour guide…which is sad..
According to Wiki, this complex is made up of 23 separate but related temples. The stone bases of Pura Penataran Agung (the most important temple in this complex) and several other temples has a prehistoric history and date back at least 2000 years.
For us, it was an eye opener to see the unique architecture of the open air temples. There were many steps to climb and most areas were inclined so we had to walk up the slopes. Even though we were wearing jeans and our knees were covered, they insisted that we need to wear a sarong at our waist. We followed so as not to offend any religious practice. I couldn’t remember whether we loaned or just borrowed though. Our guide helped us to tie the sarong as I have not worn it before.
We were also lucky to see a procession of worshippers in the middle of our visit. As there was a ledge by the wall (see where the man on the right was standing), we just stood on there to let them walk past. It took some time before the procession cleared because it was a long line of people, most of them the older generation. It was interesting to see them holding their items to worship steadily on their head!
2. Temple on the Lake
Pura Ulun Danu Bratan, which we visited together with Lake Bratan. As the whole area was elevated at 1200m above sea level, the air was cool and we love the dreamy feel of the temple in water. Built in 1663 (over 300 years ago), this temple is used for offerings ceremony to the Balinese water, lake and river goddess Dewi Danu. Lake Bratan was an important source of irrigation of crops in Bali and there are many other water temples downstream.
Our guide told us that people would hold the offerings on top of their head and walk into the water at times when the water is lower. In the streets of Bali, there are many paintings of this temple sold showing worshippers going towards it. We actually bought a batik painting of it (didn’t manage to keep well).
I like the gated compounds where people walk in to pray. Just had to take a picture of it.
3. Goa Gajah Cave
Before we entered the cave, one would notice a structure a level down the path we are standing on. This is the pond called the Patirtaan, which is a place to take holy water for a ceremony. This pond was originally buried in the ground but was excavated in 1954. It is lined by the statues which according to their religion, were ‘angels’ and people would bath underneath these statues, probably to cleanse before a ceremony.
Goa Gajah Cave was formerly a retreat area for religious monks and Shiva priests. Someone thought the menacing face in front of the cave was an ‘elephant’ and nicknamed it ‘Elephant cave’. It has an archaeological history and was first described in 944 with another name.
3. Tanah Lot Temple
Tanah Lot Temple is such a popular tourist destination that a lot of people flock to it when they visit Bali, Indonesia. Due to the natural rock formation against the ocean, the pictures taken are often so nice, especially when the sun is setting.
Our guide first took us to the opposite stone formation on the same level, which houses a small temple structure, called the ‘Pura Batu Bolong’. This temple is for worshipping the heavens.
We were the only ones around as everybody was over at Tanah Lot. This was a narrow ledge to walk on and we had to be careful. Dropping into it means you would be swept into the ocean!
Look at the huge crashing waves! From here, we could have a good overall view of Tanah Lot Temple. The waves had been shaping this large rock formation for many years. The story goes that a religious figure in the 16th-century found this rock against the coastline and rested here. He then asked the local people to build a shrine to worship the gods of the sea.
They continued building six other sea temples around the Balinese coast. Each temple forms a chain where you could see the other one from the one you are standing on. This point is also good as a backdrop for a couple photo and our guide helped us to take one.
This was our guide and me walking up after our visit. Make sure to wear proper shoes as you walk down to Tanah Lot temple as the ground was quite rocky and there were many pebbles which could cause people to slip on.
Standing at the grounds of Tanah Lot Temple, we could look across to where we were just now on the narrow cliff area. The whole place was great to photograph in the setting sun. This is why ‘Pura Batu Bolong’ actually means ‘hole in the stone’.
This is the close-up view of the Tanah Lot Temple which we did not enter. I read that the inside was a bit dangerous to venture as the rock formation had eroded over the years. In fact, money was borrowed to restore certain parts of the rock formation, so some of it is actually artificial rock.
Lastly, I love this picture we had taken of the silhouette it created against the sun. Tanah Lot is often shown on postcards of Bali this way and now we had our own postcard picture. Isn’t it pretty?
With that, I end our two-part photo posts on our Bali, Indonesia tour.
Check out Part 1 – The Nature Sights of Bali for the scenic places we visited in Bali!