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The temples of Hindu Bali

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Apart from beautiful green sawah (rice paddies) and (active) volcanoes, Bali is known worldwide for its countless Hindu temples. As mentioned in our Bali blog, every village has to build and maintain at least three temples, but most of the villages have more. Every 270 days, one celebrates the birth of the temple. It is certainly fun and interesting to make a celebration (festival) during your visit to Bali!

Types of Temples

The following types of Hindu temples (puras) are found in Bali:

  • Kahyangan jagad: a temple on the slope of a mountain or volcano.
  • Tirta: a water temple for water management.
  • Segara: a sea temple for worship of the sea gods.
  • Mrajapati: a temple to raise the dead before they are cremated.
  • Village and city temples for worshipping one of the gods or nature.

In addition, you have nine large prominent temples in strategic locations all over the island. These are built to protect the island and its people from dark forces. These are the Pura Luhur Uluwatu, Besakih, Pura Ulun Danu Bratan, Pura Ulun Danu Batur, Pura Pasar Agung, Pura Lempuyang Luhur, Goa Lawah, Pura Masceti and Pura Luhur Batukaru. Some of these are described in more detail below.

The most interesting temples to see

It is impossible to describe all the interesting temples of Bali on this blog page. Instead, we only describe some that we have visited ourselves. And some of which we unfortunately didn’t have time for when we were in Bali, but which we should have seen according to some connoisseurs.

Another remark of a practical nature: if you want to see a temple from the inside, the wearing of a sarong is obligatory. You can often rent a sarong at the entrance of a temple. If you plan to visit many temples you would be wise to buy one. Moreover, there are also provisions on the grounds of a temple. You do not have to wear a sarong, but you have to cover your body as much as possible.

Tanah Lot

This temple located on the coast in the village of Beraban, is probably the most photographed temple of Bali. The temple is especially popular during sunset. The best time to visit this temple is during Kuningan (24 July 2019, 19 February 2020 and 16 September 2020) and 5 days later, during the celebration of the temple’s birthday. Note: it is quite touristy there. There are many shops and restaurants and there are dance performances.

Pura Besakih

This temple is seen by the population as the ‘mother temple’. You can find it on the slope of Mount Agung, at 1000 metres above sea level. The temple is located on a large terrain with many buildings. As a tourist you may not visit Besakih, but you may visit other temples on the same terrain, such as the Pura Penataran Agung, the Pura Pasimpangan and the beautifully situated Pura Pengubengan.

Pura Luhur Uluwatu

This temple in the southwest of Bali is located on a steep cliff of 70 meters high. You have a fantastic view over the sea and the surfers. As a tourist you may not enter the temple, but the immediate surroundings make up for a lot. Especially during the sunset. The forest near the temple is inhabited by loose macaques.

Pura Ulun Danu Beratan

This picturesque temple is located west of Lake Beratan in the central highlands of Bali. The area is really beautiful and lends itself perfectly for short walks! The temple can be beautifully photographed, especially from the shore of the lake because you also get to see the reflection of the temple beautifully.