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One of Bali’s many nicknames is “Island of 1000 Temples” but that name is an understatement. Bali has thousands of temples all depicting its deep bond with Hinduism and a history that and culture that makes it unique in Indonesia. Around the 16th century, a Majapahit Brahmin from Java, by the name of, Nirartha decided to honour the Gods of the Sea. He decided to build a chain of temples along the coast of Bali and so that the island would have a chain of spiritual protection surrounding it.
Nirartha is now a legendary figure in history but his vision of sea temples for Bali has turned into a reality. The sea temples of Bali are a stunning architectural triumph and they add more mystique and beauty to this island. Here are some of our favourite Balinese sea temples.
One of the most beloved sea temples, Pura Luhur Uluwatu is on the southwestern tip of the Bukit Peninsula. This temple is supposed to be older than all the others and some claim it was actually built in the 10th century. It is one of the sad kahyangan, which can be roughly translated into ‘Six Places of Gods’ and thus is revered as one of the most important temples in Bali.
Luhur Uluwatu temple is one of the most visited temples on the island and it is easy to see why. The vistas from the temple are simply stunning and incomparable. It’s located near Uluwatu surf point and so it is very popular. This temple must be visited at around sunset to get the most out of the view.
Another jewel in the Balinese treasurey, Tanah Lot is another true icon among Balinese temples. It is near Beraban village, which about 20 kilometres northwest of Kuta and it sits on a rocky outcrop in the middle of the sea. Visitors can only cross over the rocks when the tide is low because temple is inaccessible when the tide is high.
According to legend, Nirartha had a hand in creating this mythical temple and today it is one of the most visited temples in the area. Priests bless visitors to the temple with water from the spout of a natural fountain that is in the temple. This amazingly fresh water is surrounded by the sea! Visit this temple when the tide is low so that you can cross the causeway and reach the temple safely.
While Ulun Danu Beratan is not a sea temple, it is still definitely worth visiting because it is one of the best temples by the lake in Bali. Ulun Danu Beratan is on the western side of Beratan lake in Bedugul, which is in central Bali.
This tranquil temple by the lake is all kinds of beautiful especially if you consider the beautifully maintained flowers and trees near it. You can hire a boat to see the other side of the temple and take a nice cruise in the lake.
On the island of Serangan, just off the port of Benoa, stands Pura Sakenan. You have to cross a bridge to get to the island that is just south of Denpasar. Sakenan Temple is associated with fortune and prosperity and people visit a lot during the Piodalan festival.
Sakenan Temple has always been a centre for the pilgrimage that takes place during Piodalan. The temple compound has multiple shrines and areas that relate to Hindu ceremonies. A good time to visit the temple is on Kiningan, the last day of the Galungan celebrations.
The Rambut Siwi Temple was already there before Nirartha arrived there on his travels. Legend has it that the temple was in deep state of disrepair but Nirartha stopped here to pray and he entered a deep state of meditation. The walls of the temple began to shake, fall down but Nirartha did not leave his state of mediation, and when he finally got out of his meditative state, Nirartha saw the temple was in ruins.
The guard who was supposed to protect the temple was upset that it had fallen apart but Nirartha gave him a lock of his hair and he instructed the guard to bury the hair in the middle of the temple and pray that the temple grows back stronger than ever. The guard did this and the temple came back to shape stronger than ever before.
Rambut means “hair” this temple, located in the Yeh Embang Kangin village that is 10 kilometres south of Negara, is where people go to pray for protection. This beautiful temple is another that is very important to the Balinese and while it isn’t visited as much as some of the others on this list, it is definitely worth a visit.
Visit the magnificent sea temples of Bali and many of the other attractions this island has to offer and stay with us at the InterContinental Bali Resort.