Taman Ayun Temple is located in the village of Mengwi, Badung Regency (around 18 kilometers from Denpasar). The name “Taman Ayun” means “beautiful garden” and like the name indicates, this place is very beautiful to see. The temple has also been featured on the UNESCO World Heritage list since 2002.
Pura Taman Ayun is like a Mother (Paibon) for the kingdom of Mengwi. This temple was built by Mengwi King, I Gusti Agung Putu, in 1556. The king built his first temple, Taman Genter, in the northern village of Mengwi to worship his ancestors. But when Mengwi became a great kingdom, I Gusti Agung Putu moved Genter Park eastward and extended the building.
Uluwatu is a temple located in Badung, Pecatu Village, on the southwestern tip of Bali. This temple was originally used as a place to worship a holy Hindu priest from the 11th century named Professor Kuturan. According to the history of Uluwatu Temple, a Hindu priest from Java was the first to discover and build the temple at this place. This temple is also used to worship the holy priest that followed Kututran, named Dang Hyang Nirartha.
The temple itself stands firmly 97 meters high at the tip of a very steep cliff. Around the temple, there is a small forest inhabited by ratusa monkeys and every evening it’s possible to watch a Kecak Dance with a beautiful sunset in the background.
The Elephant Cave (Goa Gajah) is located in the southwest of the village Bedulu, Blahbatuh Gianyar. The name Goa Gajah was given by masters in the palm Prapanca Kertagama State in 1365. The northern part of the temple has a Cave of Nature shaped like a letter “T” that contains the statue of Ganesha, who is considered the god of science and the thought of the XI century.
Goa Gajah is built on the edge of a cliff where a small river flows into the bigger river Patanu. The flow of these two rivers is called “Campuhan,” and they seem to have magical value where the temple was built. On the front wall of Goa Gajah, there are carvings that resemble a mountainous landscape with a variety of trees and animals, indicating the temple is home to a variety of animals, the same as in the Hermitage Kunjarakunja in South India.
The temple Mount Kawi is carved in cliffs and believed to be dedicated to King Anak Wungsu of the Udayana dynasty and his queens. Gunung Kawi is a big part of the cultural heritage in Bali.
Gunung Kawi is located in Gianyar Regency, which is about 35 kilometers to the Northeast of Ubud in Bali.
Gunung Kawi Temple was built as a place to glorify the spirit of Kind Udayana and his family. This interpretation is connected with the inscription carved on one of the temples. Gunung Kawi Temple was divided into four groups. A group of five temples is located on the East Tukad Pakerisan.
Gunung Kawi Temple served as a place to glorify the Holy Spirit of King Udayana Warmadewa, Marakata, and his children of Wungsu. To the west of the River Pakerisan, there is a group of four temples, referred to as “padharman,” for the four concubine of King Child Wungsu. At the entrance of the Mount Kawi temple, it reads “rakryan.” From observing the Kwadrat Kadiri lettering, it’s likely the place was made to honor a padharman officer or prime minister in the reign of King Child Wungsu.
Pura Gunung Lebah was built by the high priest Rsi Markendya in the 8th century and expanded by Hindu sage Danghyang Nirartha about 800 years after. He was fascinated by the beautiful valley where the two rivers joined, so he decided to build this temple in the middle of the forest. This forest is a treasure trove for the medical herb and it was named “Ubad” (the word for medicine in Balinese language) by the villagers. The temple also features brightly colored statues in red and gold that are quite a sight to see.
This palace, located at 4 kilometers from the heart of Ubud Village, was built in 1769 on a 4-hectare plot of land. Adopting the traditional Balinese architectural concepts, based on deep philosophical and spatial division, the palace is divided into Tri Mandala (three spatial functions). The first part is the Ancak Saji area (the outer yard), which you enter after passing through the front gates. In this area stand several constructions, such as the Bale Tegeh (high level pavilion), Pewaregan (dining area), Bale Gong (music hall), Bale Pesamuan (meeting hall) and Pendopo (pavillon). After passing through the front yard, you enter the Jaba Tengah, or the intermediate or middle zone. The last part, the Jaba Tengah, is where the royal family lives. There are at least three compounds within this area, namely the West, Central and East houses. At the end of the visit, you can enjoy a coffee/tea and a treat of Balinese traditional snacks in the Ancak Saji area.
The Pura Taman Saraswati is a beautiful water temple in central Ubud, accessible from the Jalan Kajeng side street of the main road and just behind Café Lotus. The temple is a great place to stop while during your walk through Ubud town, offering sightseeing and photo opportunities. With its classical Balinese architecture, this temple is a beautiful foyer featuring ponds filled with blooming pink lotuses. You can enter the temple behind its amphitheater at any time of the day and admire the calming atmosphere, architectural features, and sandstone relief that honor the Hindu goddess of knowledge and arts, Saraswati.
You can lunch in front of the temple in the Café Lotus and enjoy the view or watch a dance performance during the evening.
Tirta Empul, located in the village of Manukaya, Tampaksiring, is the most famous attraction in Tampaksiring.
Tirta Empul is the only Presidential Palace that was built after Indonesia Merdeka. Even now, this palace looks clean and well-preserved, while the five other Indonesian palaces are not so well maintained. Tirta Empul is one of the heritage sites that is still growing today.
For travelers who want to taste the fresh water of Taman Tirta Tampaksiring, it’s possible to go inside of the pool that was used as a bathing place for the Hindu people. The goal was to clean the physical body as well as the spirit. Tourists who believe in this magical power of spirituality can take a bath in the spray shower head that flows into a pond, but they must follow certain rules that are written at the temple entrance. During the Hindu holidays (such as the full moon night), the area of washing will be crowned with bamboo decorations and foliage.
Tirta Empul has a unique mythology.
The story comes from the King of Bali, named Maya Denawa. The king made people anxious and miserable, so the heaven gods decided to take his position by sending troops led by Lord Indra.
But Maya Denawa was very powerful so, it was really hard to fight him. Maya Denawa used his magical power to create toxic river water and poison Lord Indra’s troops. However, Lord Indra then used his stick to make holy water (now held in Tirta Empul) to splatter the poisoned troops. Thus, the god Indra saved his troops from dying of poisoning, and after that, they were able to fight Maya Denawa and destroy him.
Puri Saren Ubud (Ubud Palace) is one of the most important landmarks in Ubud with beautiful Balinese traditional houses. It was built during the lordship of Ida Tjokorda Putu Kandel in the 1800s and remains well-kept today. The public are welcome to visit the front section of the palace and contains the Ubud Art Market, which is a great demonstration of the local culture. Puri Saren also features a meeting hall across the road. Walkthroughs are available for the front section and can include a local guide to answer questions and talk about the history of the palace.
Yeh Pulu Temple was built around the 14th or 15th century. The rock carvings of Yeh Pulu make up the longest sequence of relief rock panels in Bali. Due to the non-existent path that leads to Yeh Pulu, not many people visit this site despite its breathtaking setting. Nestled in rolling hills of lush rice paddies, Yeh Pulu Temple can be accessed via a 45-minutes walk from Goa Gajah. Besides the rock carvings that depict the everyday life in ancient Bali, this place is also the home of a holy well from which a temple attendant will happily bless visitors with its holy water.
Besakih Temple (or Pura Besakih) is the biggest Hindu temple in Bali. It’s located in Besakih countryside, Karangasem Regency. Besakih Temple is located on a plateau and offers a cool atmosphere surrounded by the Mount Agung. From the top of the temple, you can see a beautiful panorama of nature and the ocean. The cool atmosphere, the light breeze, and the unique buildings bring the peaceful atmosphere to this area. The temple is also well known as the Mother Temple in Bali and many Hindu people visit it to worship their gods and ancestors.
Besakih Temple is a complex containing 22 Hindu temples. Experts estimate that the development of this complex took more than 1,000 years! This temple is built on the belief of Tri Hita Karana, meaning balance must be kept between man, nature, and god. In the center of the four cardinal directions is Penataran Besakih, the biggest temple dedicated to the god Shiva surrounded by many others. On the east side, there is Penataran Dark Temple dedicated to the god Iswara; on the south side, there is Pura Kiduling Kereteg dedicated to Lord Brahma; on the west side, is Ulun Kulkul temple dedicated to the god Mahadeva; and on the north side, you’ll find Batumadeg Temple dedicated to Lord Vishnu.
In addition of enjoying a relic of history, distinctive architecture, and the celebration of religious rites in the temple, you can also join an excursion and climb Mount Agung.
Bali Tirta Gangga Park is one of the most famous tourist destinations in the eastern part of Bali. In the middle of the park, there are many small statues set on stones decorating the park. All of the statues came from the Hindu epics Mahabharata or Ramayana.
Tirta Gangga was built in 1948 by the King Raja of Karangasem, Anak Agung Anglurah Ketut Karangasem. This water park is constructed in the very unique architectural style of Bali and China. Tirta Gangga covers 1.2 hectares and consists of three complexes. The first complex is at the very bottom of the site, where you can find two teratai ponds and fountains. At the second complex, the center of the site, you can find a swimming pool, and in the third part, you’ll find the resting place of the King.
Tirta Gangga is located at Abang Sub-district, Karangasem Regency, about 83 kilometers from Denpasar and six kilometers from Amlapura to the North.
The Batukaru Temple is located at the foot of Mount Batukaru, around 22 kilometers from Tabanan. This temple was one of the nine Kayangan Jagat (directional temples) meant to protect Bali from evil spirits. It was built during the 11th century and dedicated to the Rejas of Tabanan. In 1604, the temple was destroyed and looted by the king of another district, but it was rebuilt in 1959.
Today, Pura Luhur Batukaru remains an extremely sacred site for Bali’s Hindu population. It’s also the main stop before ascending to the summit of Mount Batukaru.
Tanah Lot Temple is one of the most famous attractions in Bali, for both locals and visitors. This temple is located in Beraban Village, district of Kediri, Tabanan Regency. There are two temples on the Tanah Lot Beach: one on the top of the boulder and another on top of the cliff.
This temple is dedicated to the gods of the sea. During the high tide, the temple is beautifully set in the middle of the sea. During the low tide it’s possible to actually visit the temple.
The Tanah Lot Temple was built by a Brahmana who came from Java, Dangyang Nirartha. Thanks to the Balinese people, he was able to build the Sad Hinduism Goda. According to mythology, Dangyang Nirartha used all his strength to move boulders in the middle of the sea and built the temple there. After that, he changed a shawl into a snake with deadly poison that acted as a guard for the temple.
Pura Ulun Danu Bratan is a water temple complex in Bali located on the shores of Lake Bratan in the mountains near Bedugul. Built in 1633, this temple has been used for offering ceremony to the Balinese water, lake, and river goddess Dewi Danu, due to the importance of Lake Bratan as a main source of irrigation in central Bali. The 11 stories of pelinggih meru, the main shrine of the temple, were dedicated to the Hindu god Shiva and Parvathi, the Hindu goddess of love, fertility, and devotion. Lake Bratan is known as the Lake of Holy Mountain due to the fertility of its area.
The complex contains four temples, each dedicated to a specific god or goddess. Lingga Petak Temple is dedicated to Lord Shiva, the Penataran temple Pucak Manggu to the god Brahma, and the temple Dalem Purwa to the goddess Danu.
A fascinating window on Balinese history, culture and spirituality, the Pura Ulun Danu Bratan temple and its beautiful features are a paradise for photographers.
Brahmavihara-Arama is Bali’s largest Buddhist monastery, located up in the hills of Banjar only 1.5km west of the Banjar Hot Springs. Opened in 1970, Brahmavihara-Arama takes a hectare of hillside and includes numerous meditation rooms, libraries, beautiful gardens, and an impressive mini replica of the world’s largest Buddhist archaeological site, Borobudur, on its highest grounds. The monastery is an approximate 20-kilometer drive from the Singaraja main town, and a 10-kilometer drive from the major beach resort of Lovina. Up from the Jalan Raya Seririt-Singaraja main road, you’ll find a quaint street lined with Alphonse Lavallée vineyards that provide a scenic intro to this uphill attraction. After a few minutes driving, the community of Dusun Abian comes to view, and clear signposts show you directions to the famous hot springs and to the monastery.
Pura Kehen is located north of Bangli, and it is the state temple of the Bangli kingdom. It’s often described as the miniature version of the Pura Besakih. Like the mother temple, this one has eight terraces and is built on the southern slope of the hill.
Built in the 11th century, the Kehen temple is the biggest temple in East Bali and considered to be the finest, as well. The temple complex lies amid palm tree plantations, creating a mystical atmosphere.
Kehen means “household” or “fireplace” and symbolizes the fire god, Brahmen, who protects the temple. Because it is one of the most important temples in the region, many religious ceremonies take place here. It’s an interesting sight to see the women carrying large fruit offerings up the stairs and different types of dances take place during the ceremonies, which are typical for the Bangli region.
Pura Ulun Danu Batur, built in 1926, is the second most important temple complex of Bali, after the mother temple Besakih. The temple is dedicated to Dewi Batari Ulun Danu, goddess of lakes and rivers. “Ulun Danu” literally translates to “head of the lake.”
Until 1926, Pura Ulun Danu and the village of Batur were located down in the caldera, at the foot of the Batur volcano. After the volcano erupted violently in 1926, both the village and the temple were destroyed except for the most important shrine, an 11-tiered meru dedicated to Dewi Batari Ulun Danu. The villagers had to move to the highest and oldest rim of the caldera, where they rebuilt their village and the temple.
Pura Ulun Danu is a complex of nine different temples, containing a total of 285 shrines and pavilions dedicated to the gods and goddesses of water, agriculture, holy springs, art, crafts, etc.