Hindu temples are abundant in Bali – of course, as hunduism is the dominating religion of the indonesian island. The Hindu Temples of Bali serve as sacred sites of worship, cultural expression, and artistic beauty. This article delves into the realm of these temples, exploring their spiritual significance, architectural splendor, and how travelers can respectfully experience these revered places during their Bali trips. Many of the temples are dadicated to specific deities and gods.
Hindu temples are a prevalent sight in Bali – so covering them in our Bali Glossary is a no brainer. They are not merely places of worship but also reservoirs of culture and art. Travelers travelers might have noticed, artistic expression is very apparent amongst the local communities, and every ceremony inside or around a temple is a great occasion to make art.
The importance of Hindu Temples in Bali
- as Spiritual Sanctuaries: Bali is adorned with thousands of Hindu temples, from small village shrines to grand complexes like Uluwatu and Tanah Lot. Literally every family house has at least one temple of its own, which is probably unique around the globe.
- as unique Architectural heritage: Balinese temple architecture is a visual delight. Temples are adorned with intricate stone carvings, ornate gates, and multi-tiered roofs. The mandala-inspired layout reflects a harmonious balance in design. They are responsible for the typical balinese architecture that makes this island indisputably
- for sacred Ceremonies: Temples come alive during frequent ceremonies and festivals. Witnessing these vibrant events, such as Odalan and Galungan, offers a glimpse into the island’s rich spiritual traditions.
- as place for offerings and performed rituals: Canang sari, small offerings of flowers, rice, and incense, are a common sight in temples, but actually in literally every other building too. When it comes to temple ceremonies, travelers can participate in temple rituals, guided by local priests, to gain insight into Balinese spirituality. The locals are very open and welcoming, so just go there and join in with respect!
The most important Hindu temples in Bali
- Pura Besakih
Known as the “Mother Temple of Bali,” Pura Besakih is the largest and holiest temple on the island. Nestled on the slopes of Mount Agung, it offers breathtaking views and a profound spiritual experience. It is the one temple that might be harder accessible than other temples on the island
2. Uluwatu Temple (Pura Luhur Uluwatu):
Perched on a clifftop, Uluwatu Templem this amazing gem embedded at the spectacular cliffs of Bukit, offers panoramic views of the sea below. Famed for its stunning sunsets, traditional Kecak dance shows, and monkey hanging around everywhere, it’s a must-visit for spiritual and cultural enthusiasts.
3. Tanah Lot Temple:
Standing on a rock formation off Bali’s southwestern coast, Tanah Lot is famous for its unique offshore setting and sunset vistas. It’s one of Bali’s most iconic temples for photography and sightseeing, and definitely worth a visit, especially around sunset.
4. Tirta Empul (Water Purification) Temple:
Located in central Bali, Tirta Empul is renowned for its holy spring water. Devotees come to bathe in its purifying waters, believing it brings good fortune and health. this gem known from the movie Eat, Pray, Love, offers a refreshing dive into balinese hindu-rituals.
5. Ulun Danu Beratan Temple:
Floating on Lake Beratan, this picturesque temple is dedicated to the goddess of lakes and rivers. Its serene setting against a mountainous backdrop makes it a popular spot for both worship and relaxation. Stunningly beautiful, it has even made it on the Indonesian Rupiah banknotes. Take a chance and travel to see this gem, as it guides you to lesser traveled parts of the island.
6. Goa Gajah (Elephant Cave Temple):
Despite its name, no elephants reside here. This archaeological site features intricate stone carvings, a cave for meditation, and bathing fountains, making it an essential cultural stop. It is one of the older temples if the island, situated not far from Ubud.
7. Gunung Kawi:
Situated in Tampaksiring, this temple complex boasts ancient rock-cut shrines carved into cliffs. Surrounded by paddy fields, it offers a blend of history and natural beauty. You can visit it together with a Tirta Empul exploration, as it is very close.
8. Lempuyang Temple (Pura Lempuyang Luhur):
One of Bali’s oldest ritual buildings, it’s a complex of overall seven temples. The iconic “Gates of Heaven”, overlooking Mount Agung, is a popular photo spot for visitors. A great sight not everyone will see on a Bali trip.
9. Saraswati Temple (Pura Taman Saraswati):
Located right in the centre Ubud, the cultural centre of the island, this temple is dedicated to Saraswati, the goddess of knowledge and arts. With a beautiful lotus pond and traditional Balinese architecture, it’s a serene spot for reflection. Definitely worth a stop when you are in or around Ubud.
10. Tirta Gangga
Another Instagram hotspot. The world has seen the spectacular water garden with beautiful koi fish. The place is named after the famous river Ganges and is not actually only a temple but a royal garden.
11. Pura Taman Ayun:
A royal temple of Mengwi Empire, Taman Ayun boasts expansive gardens, fish-filled ponds, and impressive tiered pagodas. A UNESCO site, it offers insight into Bali’s majestic past.
Each of these temples embodies the spiritual and cultural richness of Bali, offering unique experiences to every visitor. We recommend everyone to visit at least a few of them during your stay in Bali.
Experiencing Hindu Temples in Bali:
Travelers can explore Bali’s temples by visiting during non-ceremonial times, dressing respectfully, and recommended engaging with locals to gain a deeper understanding of the spiritual and cultural significance of each site.
12 essential rules to follow at a Bali Hindu Temple
First of all: Consider hiring a local guide when visiting temples. They can provide insights into the history, rituals, and symbolism, enriching your experience unlike google could.
Visiting a Hindu temple in Bali is a serene and spiritual experience. To ensure respect for local customs and religious practices, it’s essential to be aware of certain rules and etiquettes.
Here’s a complete list of things to take care of when visiting a balinese temple:
- Dress Appropriately: Wear modest clothing that covers shoulders and knees. Men and women should avoid wearing sleeveless tops or short skirts/shorts. It’s customary to wear a sarong (traditional cloth) and a sash around the waist when entering temple grounds. Many temples offer them at the entrance for visitors. Headwear: Men should wear a udeng or destar (traditional Balinese headwear for men) during ceremonies. It’s respectful for women to wear a temple scarf or sash around the waist.
- Menstruating Women: It might feel offensive for some people, but women who are menstruating are considered impure and shouldn’t enter the temple.
- Enter with the Right Foot: This doesn’t have too be strictly executed, but anyway: Always start with the right foot when stepping into the temple compound.
- Show Respect: Always show respect to the temple and the worshippers. Avoid loud conversations or disruptive behavior. Also, walk around shrines and altars in a clockwise direction. Sit with your feet pointing away from the central altar or shrine, as feet are considered the lowest part of the body.
- Photography and Videography: Always ask for permission first before taking photos or videos, especially respect people while praying. Avoid photographing or recording during prayer or rituals. NEVER climb onto sacred platforms or shrines for photographs.
- Offerings and Donations: If you wish to make offerings, it’s best to learn the proper procedure or be guided by a local. Many temples have donation boxes. Donating is a nice gesture to support temple maintenance.
- Avoid Public Display of Affection: Just like churches and mosques, hindu temples are chaste paces. Refrain from hugging, kissing, or holding hands within temple premises.
- Follow the Priest’s Lead: If you happen to visit during a ceremony, watch the priest’s actions and follow suit. This could involve sitting, standing, or making offerings.
- Guides and Locals: Always listen to locals or temple guards if they guide you on do’s and don’ts.
- Cleanliness: Ensure you’re clean when you enter a temple. If you’ve visited a beach or trekked, clean up before entering temple grounds.
- No Pets: Avoid bringing pets to temple grounds.
- Follow Temple Signs: Many temples have specific signs indicating areas where visitors are not allowed or directions on specific rituals. Adhere to these instructions.
Being mindful of these etiquettes will ensure that your temple visit in Bali is respectful and enriching. Remember, it’s always a good idea to observe and follow the behavior of locals when in doubt.
7 lesser-known and interesting facts about Hindu temples in Bali:
- Orientation & Location: Balinese Hindu temples are typically aligned in specific directions. Pura Kahyangan Jagat, the most important temples, face the mountains (kaja) and the sea (kelod), emphasizing the connection between the spiritual and physical worlds.
- Sacred Water: Temples often have a source of holy water, either from springs or fountains. This water is believed to have purifying properties and is used in rituals, blessings, and cleansing ceremonies.
- Guardian Statues: Statues of fierce and protective deities, such as Barong, Garuda and Rangda, often flank temple entrances. They are believed to ward off evil spirits and protect the sacred space.
- Meru Towers: Some temples feature multi-tiered pagoda-like structures known as “Meru towers.” The number of tiers reflects the temple’s significance, with the highest having 11 tiers, reserved for the most important temples.
- Niskala and Sekala: Balinese temples are often divided into two parts: Niskala (the unseen, spiritual realm) and Sekala (the seen, physical realm). This duality is an essential aspect of Balinese Hinduism, emphasizing the balance between the spiritual and earthly worlds.
- Bali’s Unique Calendar: Temples play a pivotal role in Bali’s calendar. Each temple celebrates its anniversary (odalan) every 210 days according to the Balinese Pawukon calendar. This means there are multiple temple anniversaries happening throughout the year, making Bali a perpetual land of celebration.
In Bali, it’s not uncommon to see chickens and other animals near temples. This isn’t because they are part of the rituals, but rather because they are believed to be the reincarnations of ancestors’ spirits. So, the presence of these animals is a sign of respect for the departed souls.
Hindu temples in Bali represent a fusion of spirituality, artistry, and culture. For travelers, they provide an opportunity to connect with the island’s soul, appreciate its architectural marvels, and witness the devotion that forms the bedrock of Balinese life.
What role do Hindu temples play in Bali?
Hindu temples in Bali serve as sites of worship, cultural expression, and artistic beauty. These temples are integral to Bali’s spiritual, cultural, and artistic heritage.
Are Hindu temples common in Bali?
Yes, they are prevalent, given that Hinduism is the predominant religion in Bali. From small village shrines to grand complexes, temples can be found everywhere, and every family house typically has its temple.
Why are these temples important?
Balinese temple architecture is known for its intricate stone carvings, ornate gates, multi-tiered roofs, and mandala-inspired layout that reflects a harmonious balance in design. They are pivotal in defining Balinese architecture.
How often are ceremonies held in these temples?
Ceremonies and festivals occur frequently in these temples. Events like Odalan and Galungan showcase the island’s vibrant spiritual traditions.
Can travelers participate in temple ceremonies?
Yes, travelers can join in temple rituals guided by local priests. The Balinese locals are very welcoming, but it’s vital to participate with respect.
What are some of the most important Hindu temples in Bali?
Some notable temples include Pura Besakih, Uluwatu Temple, Tanah Lot Temple, Tirta Empul, Ulun Danu Beratan Temple, Goa Gajah, Gunung Kawi, Lempuyang Temple, Saraswati Temple, Tirta Gangga, and Pura Taman Ayun.
How should travelers behave when visiting these temples?
Travelers should dress modestly, refrain from disruptive behavior, avoid public displays of affection, follow the priest’s lead during ceremonies, and listen to locals or temple guards regarding do’s and don’ts.
Are there any specific etiquettes related to dress code?
Yes, both men and women should wear clothing that covers their shoulders and knees. Sarongs and sashes around the waist are customary. Men should wear traditional Balinese headwear during ceremonies, while women should wear a temple scarf or sash.
Can photographs be taken inside the temples?
While photography is generally allowed, it’s important to ask for permission, especially if people are praying. Climbing onto sacred platforms or shrines for photographs is strictly prohibited.