Saturday, September 8, 2018

Indonesia: Temples of Bali

*Updated September 8, 2018*

Besakih Temple Bali

I fell in love with the exceptional Balinese Hindu temples. If you know me pretty well, you’d think that the statement might be a bluff for I easily get templed out on temple tours, but no, I really love the temples in Bali.

We’re in the middle of the Bali leg of our Southeast Asian Summer Backpacking Trip and we’ve already had the perfect staycation in our resort at Kuta. We also checked out some of the beaches in Bali, did some village and temple tours in Ubud and had fun doing my first ever yoga dive. With only few more days left, we intended to visit some Hindu temples around Bali only to realize that two days isn’t enough.

I am not into temples that much, one or two temples per city is enough for me. I was templed out on our previous trips to Siem Reap, Nepal and Ayutthaya, and I didn’t like the feeling afterwards. But it’s a different story for my buddies; they adore temples that they can spend half a day inside a temple complex, I would be bored, honestly.

The Balinese Hindu temples are called Pura. The temples or places of worship are built in accordance with Balinese architecture style and rules (which are in tune with Hinduism, the predominant religion in Bali). Bali Island also has the six sanctuaries of the world (Sad Kahyangan) or the six holiest places of worship which are situated in six key points on the island. The placement of the temples is believed to provide spiritual balance for the Balinese people. Fortunately, we got to visit two of these temples (check here for discounted tours, transportation and activities in Bali).

Uluwatu Temple Bali
Sarong is a must
We chartered a private car from Bali Golden Tour during the trip. They were the only tour company that agreed with our uber flexible itinerary and they also provided an English-speaking and funky driver/guide. We already visited Gunung Kawi Temple in Ubud (my favorite Balinese temple) which left a lasting impression with its grueling 320 steps and mesmerizing rock sculptures and it really set the bar high for our next temple tours.

First stop on our temple run was Pura Uluwatu in Badung which is a Balinese sea temple dedicated to Sang Hyang Widhi Waha. Perched on top of a 70-meter high cliff overlooking the sea, it is considered as one of the Sad Kahyangan or six holiest places of worship in Bali. In Balinese language; ulu means edge and watu means rock.

We went straight to the entrance counter upon arrival and paid 20,000 Rupiah (US$ 1.50) each for the entrance fee and were handed some sarongs to be used inside.

First thing I noticed was a voice prompt that cautions the visitors of some untoward incidents with some of the monkeys and then a sign that, again, warns people on the monkeys’ doings. Apparently, the temple is inhabited with monkeys; it made me terrified.

Uluwatu Temple Bali
A local vendor outside the Pura Uluwatu
I remembered a not-so-good encounter with monkeys at MacRitchie Reservoir Park in Singapore where a troop attacked me and my cousin and grabbed our food packs; such a horrible experience.

Uluwatu Temple Bali
Lice hunting
Moving on, as we walked into the temple gates, I was holding on to my buddies’ arms and felt secured while tucking myself into their armpits. A few strides more and we saw a troop of monkeys having their pre-siesta activities, they were blocking our way. Another troop was on a tree having their afternoon snack and a family seemed like having a good time chasing ticks on each other. I kept calm and enjoyed the arms of my buddies who served as the perfect shield.

Uluwatu Temple Bali
Pura Uluwatu temple complex
We reached the first steps leading to the temple unharmed. The climb was thrilling for we didn’t know yet what to expect when we reached the top. I was focusing on my ascent to the temple when I was interrupted by the breathtaking view. Settled on top of a sea cliff, the Uluwatu Temple is truly stunning. With the spectacular view of the sea, the temple is believed to be protecting Bali from sea evil spirits.

Uluwatu Temple Bali
Breathtaking
Uluwatu Temple Bali
Stunning
We didn’t get to see the temple up close for it's only open for Hindus. Nonetheless, we were happy to check out the temple, and also for being unharmed by the troop of monkeys around the temple complex.

Uluwatu Temple Bali
Pura Uluwatu
We were on our way to our next temple when we saw the unassuming roadside Batuan Temple in Ubud. There was no entrance fee on this certain temple but donating is encouraged. There’s an area where you could borrow some sarong for free to cover your arms and legs inside the temple.

Batuan Temple Bali
Batuan Temple
Bali Batuan Temple is a typical Balinese temple in Batuan Village. Its design is typical of Balinese style where the roof is made from black palm tree and adorned with Balinese ornaments. This temple is dedicated to three Hindu gods; Brahma (the Creator), Vishnu (the Preserver) and Shiva (the Destroyer).

Batuan Temple Bali
Intricate designs
As we entered, I gravitated towards the intricately designed statues and stone pillars. I intentionally got lost in this modest but beautiful temple complex. One of my buddies expressed his admiration towards it and even considered it as his favorite temple amongst tho ones we’ve visited in Bali.

Batuan Temple Bali

Batuan Temple Bali

Our last stop for the day was the Pura Besakih, the biggest Hindu Temple in Bali. Located at Karangasem regency on the eastern part of Bali, Pura Besakih lies below the holiest and highest mountain in Bali – Mount Agung – and considered as the “mother temple”.

The complex houses three main temples and eighteen separate sanctuaries. The Balinese people make it a point to visit Pura Besakih once or twice a year during the temple festival. The view from the top is so breathtaking that it also is a popular temple destination for tourists.

Besakih Temple Bali
Pura Besakih
We were warned by our driver, Made, the day before, he said that we should bring our own sarong and that the entrance fee and “guide fee” are quite dubious. We took note of that and researched about it and certainly, there were write-ups about the tricky fees here.

It was about a two-hour drive from our resort in Ubud and the scenic countryside view was stunning; we had our own episodes of catnap along the way. Arriving at our destination, I immediately noticed how everything turned into a tourist trap. Sarong rental shops, souvenir stalls and small warungs (eateries) were everywhere.

We paid 15,000 Rupiah each (US$ 1.13) for the entrance fee and 5,000 Rupiah (US$ 0.38) for the parking fee. We were then brought to a table where a man (a big man) handed me a guide map to the temple complex. 

Besakih Temple Bali

I knew beforehand that the sanctuaries and temples are restricted to tourists, I respect that. The big man said that if we wanted to go around the temple complex we should hire a guide, and if not, we could only go up to the front yard and observe from there. At this point the negotiation for the guide started. He said that the volunteer guides were paid on a "donation basis" only. To cut it short, we bargained with our “donation” with the big man to enter the complex and paid 160,000 (US$ 12.06) Rupiah for one guide which I felt was too much considering that it is supposedly a “donation”, well, that's just me.

After the exhausting haggling battle, we went ahead with our guide and walked around one kilometer uphill to where the temple was. Motorcycle drivers were urging us for a ride up for a fee but I was too exhausted with negotiating that I didn’t even stop to bother.

Besakih Temple Bali

Besakih Temple Bali

While our guide was busy with his spiel (my buddies were in full attention), I went around the front yard and noticed that there was a celebration in the temple. Every six months, there’s a festival in all Balinese Hindu temples and we’re quite privileged to have witnessed this at Besakih Temple. During the festival, the Hindus in Bali would come and visit the temples with their offering and pray to the gods.

Besakih Temple Bali
Festive mood
The temple complex was adorned with different ornaments and the overall mood was festive. The guide showed us around and I was kinda irked when I saw some tourists who didn’t have guides with them. I felt so duped but my buddies were happily chatting with him as we went around the temple complex. I learned to appreciate the guide as we asked him about Balinese life and stuff. I love how my buddies were always optimistic and upbeat in spite a stressful situation.

Besakih Temple Bali

We spent almost three hours combing the alleys and paths leading to the sanctuaries where I met some kids who played with me. As we went back to the parking area, I thanked our guide and apologized for my very moody state earlier mentioning that he resembled so much like my former boyfriend; laughter everywhere.

Besakih Temple Bali

Besakih Temple Bali
Let's play some music you little girl :)
It was a long day and we requested Made to just bring us home and continue with our temple run the next day. We snoozed instantly as the van sped off.


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It was the last day of our Bali tour and we planned to check out two other important temples.

First stop was the Pura Ulun Danu Bratan or simply Pura Bratan, a major water temple in Bali. Located at Kalanganyar Village in Kintamani sub-district, it lies 1,200 meters above sea level and is dedicated to the Hindu goddess of lakes and rivers – Dewi Batari Ulun Danu.

Bratan Temple Bali
Ganesh - god of wisdom and learning
My favorite Hindu god
Situated at the edge of Lake Bratan, it is considered as the second most important temple in Bali and is the core of all water temples in Central Bali. The water from the lake is the ultimate source for the rivers and springs in Central Bali. This unique irrigation system is recognized by UNESCO as a World Cultural Heritage.

Bratan Temple Bali
Pura Bratan
The cool weather of Bali uplands makes the Lake Bratan and Pura Bratan a favorite site for locals and tourists. The Bedugul mountain range surrounds the lake making it the perfect backdrop for the temple. Visitors are also not allowed to enter the temples and bathing is also prohibited.

Bratan Temple Bali
Stunning view
We paid 30,000 Rupiah each (US$ 2.26) and went around the beautiful temple complex of Bratan. There were some pre-nuptial photo shoots everywhere that it was difficult to take a decent picture. I settled on a shaded area and enjoyed the nice view of the lake from there.

Bratan Temple Bali
Julius - one of my favorite persons in the world
Bratan Temple Bali

Our last temple of the day (and for the trip) has been a favorite cover photo of some travel magazines, the Tanah Lot Temple. Located at the coast of Beraban countryside in Kediri district, this is a favorite spot in Bali that offers a spectacular sunset view.

Tanah Lot Temple Bali
Balinese Hindu temple split gate
We shelled out 30,000 Rupiah each (US$ 2.26) for the entrance fee and 10,000 Rupiah (US$ 0.75) for the parking fee. The mainland cliff holds some restaurants and coffee shops that offer a nice view of the temple. Souvenir shops also line the path leading to the temple, a very touristy area.

Tanah Lot Temple Bali

Pura Tanah Lot is perched on top of Tanah Lot rock formation that is only twenty meters away from the shoreline. It can be reached by crossing the shallow waters (during low tide). Following the traditional Balinese temple provision, tiered shrines that follow the elements of Balinese design can be found on the temple complex.

Tanah Lot Temple Bali
Pura Tanah Lot
A number of caves can also be found on the shore that houses some venomous sea snakes that are believed to protect the temple from evil spirits.

Tanah Lot Temple Bali
You have to brave these waves to reach the temple
On one of the mainland cliffs, we spotted a small gathering of Balinese Hindus that were performing a ritual with some offerings and babi guling (roasted pig). We sat there quietly as we observed the goings-on.

Tanah Lot Temple Bali

The sweltering heat prevented us to stay longer to wait for the sunset. It was mid-afternoon and we were so dehydrated that we decided to just go home and end our temple runs.

Tanah Lot Temple Bali

What I love about these Balinese Hindu temples is that each has its own unique character that it would be impossible to compare them with one another. I would gladly go back to Bali and finish off all those we've missed; yes, you're hearing it right, I'm kinda loving temples now.



*Updated September 8, 2018*



After two Bali trips, we thought we had enough of temple tours but no, we did another round during our recent visit because every temple experience is definitely worthwhile.

Me and my buddy’s first trip to Bali was during our ASEAN Summer Loop 2015 backpacking trip. After just a year, we got an invite from Indonesia’s Ministry of Tourism for the Trip of Wonders and Bali was included on the itinerary. We had nothing but fun memories during those trips and even made new friends along the way.

Bali Temple

SEA 2 Africa 2018 was the fifth installment of our annual two-month summer backpacking trip and this time, we got to revisit Bali and Singapore then explored the countries of Morocco and East Timor. Together with our moms, we had a wonderful ten-day trip in Bali and showed them the colorful and fascinating life on this famous Indonesian island province.

Bali Temple

We went around Bali with ease and comfort as we had a chartered car from Bali Golden Tour which we booked online. Our driver, Putu, was friendly and as a local, we got to immerse ourselves with the Balinese way of life through him.

As much as we want to visit all the major ones, me and my buddy just chose some of our favorites and included a couple of temples that we missed before.


Goa Gajah
Entrance fee: IDR15,000
Opening hours: 8:00 am to 5:00 pm

Goa Gajah Temple Bali
Goa Gajah Temple
I could still remember how our guesthouse host in Nepal shared the story of the Hindu deity Ganesh. We were bundled up in our blankies as he narrated it on a cold night, like storytelling time for kids. And in Bali, being an island province that is 95% Hindu, certain temples are dedicated to a particular deity, like Ganesh.

Goa Gajah Temple Bali
April midday heat
Built in 9th century, Goa Gajah served as a sanctuary. The complex contains both Hindu and Buddhist imageries. We paid the entrance fee and went to the entryway where a free cover-up sarong was provided to all guests whose legs were exposed.

Goa Gajah Temple Bali
Inside the Elephant Cave
There’s a simple hike down going to the main complex but the steaming April sun was draining out all our energy. We went to the main chamber where certain figures were carved directly on the stone. I went inside and noticed a number of Ganesh figures around.

Goa Gajah Temple Bali
Bathing temple
We naturally went on our separate ways and I found myself hiking through a shrine of some sort while the moms inspected some plants. We all got reunited somehow and decided to call it a day at three in the afternoon. The heat was unbearable and we had to go back to our guesthouse for our moms to rest.


Pura Tirta Empul
Entrance fee: IDR15,000
Opening hours: 9:00 am to 5:00 pm

Pura Tirta Empul Bali
Pura Tirta Empul
We missed this during our first visit as we got exhausted on Gunung Kawi. Like in other temples, a free cover-up sarong was provided to all guests whose legs were exposed. The gang went on their separate ways as we entered the temple premises. 


Pura Tirta Empul Bali
Holy mountain spring
I immediately went to the holy mountain spring  and noticed that it was filled with locals who were offering fruits, etc. It wasn’t as quiet as the other temples I’ve been to but you’d feel the reverence from them.

Pura Tirta Empul Bali
Offerings and prayers
The other parts of this seemingly ruined temple complex aren’t as interesting as the main water temple so I went back to it and observed the goings-on.


PuraTanah Lot
Entrance fee: IDR60,000
Opening hours: 7:00 am to 7:00 pm

Tanah Lot Temple Bali
Pura Tanah Lot
A famous icon of Bali, Tanah Lot will always be included on every itinerary for first-timers. Without any idea on the next temple, our moms were overwhelmed on the hefty entrance fee and the number of tourists rushing inside (a hundred percent increase since the last time we're here).

First stop was a restaurant overlooking the famous temple. Aside from being it a lunchtime, we needed a shelter from the punishing midday heat. We had a good one hour of chill time while enjoying our meal.

Tanah Lot Temple Bali
Low tide
So much things have changed after three years since my last visit. There are more shops and cafés now compared to before, plus more viewpoints were made to cater to more tourists. And just like before, I didn’t even go closer to the temple on a cliff as I wasn’t that interested to join the mob of tourists. I was contented with our peaceful lunch view.


Uluwatu Temple
Entrance fee: IDR30,000
Opening hours: 9:00 am to 6:00 pm

Uluwatu Temple Bali
Uluwatu Temple
Uluwatu Temple is another Bali first-timer must-visit. Aside from its famous monkey bystanders, it’s one of the six supremely holy temples (Sad Kahyangan) on the island. The fee to get inside includes a sarong cover-up for those who weren’t dressed properly for this holy place.

Uluwatu Temple Bali
Uluwatu is worth the hike!
Just like Tanah Lot, this temple is flocked by thousands (yes, thousands) of tourists every day and they come in big buses.

We entered the temple complex and went on our separate ways to enjoy the breath-taking views of the cliff. Hordes and hordes of tourists were in and out of the temple and it felt like we were in a crowded festival or something.

A friend once told me that the perfect time to visit this temple is early in the morning, maybe next time.

I held on to my buddy as we went back to our car. Some monkeys were having siesta while some were chillin' on the pathway. A monkey suddenly made an eye-to-eye contact with me as I was holding on to my dear pink hobo bag. He then attacked me and grabbed my bag and I shouted so loud but he wasn't even moved by it. He then grabbed my flip flops after a failed attempt on my bag and again, he failed. 

It was my second time in this kind of situation and it was totally scary. These monkeys would get something from you and after reporting the said incident to the jungle rangers, they would exchange food with your stolen item. Scamming monkeys, eh?

My plan for our next Bali trip is to rent a motorbike and go to the famous temples early in the morning to veer away from the hordes of tourists and get to appreciate the Hindu temples in Bali in all its beauty and significance. 


Check here for discounted Bali accommodations!

Bali Golden Tour
Jalan Cekomaria, Gang Taman IV No. 1,
Denpasar, Bali, Indonesia
Contact Numbers: (+62) 851.0096.6391 | (+62) 815.5844.9505
Email Address: info@baligoldentour.com





10 comments:

  1. Ganda. Na-inlove din ako sa kwento at super ganda! Hihihi

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Sis.. Bali tayo?? :D -FEB

      Delete
    2. In love talaga Ice? Hihi

      Go kayo Feb! :)

      Delete
  2. Waa may Lechon pala diyan..

    Quota kana sa Temple hopping ah. Now I regret Why we cancelled our Bali Trip...

    Ang gondoh ng Pura Bratan, nakakaiyak.

    ReplyDelete
  3. Lovely Bali :) -FEB

    ReplyDelete
  4. ang ganda ^-^.. both the place and the pics...
    kainspire naman...

    ReplyDelete
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