Bali: Temples

As I mentioned in my last post, Balinese Hinduism is a large part of life there. As a result, there are hundreds of temples all over the island.

The first thing you need to know about Bali’s temples is that sarongs are required garb for everyone if you are going inside the walls. You can borrow sarongs at the temples or you can just visit anyone of the eleventy market stalls just outside the temple gates  and buy one for just a few dollars. Believe me, there are dozens and dozens of merchants who would looooooove to sell you their wares.

A nice man helping Pete put on his sarong for the first time.

I’m going to share photos of the temples and holy sites we visited, but won’t say much about them. Instead, I’ll provide links for you to follow if you are inclined to fall into a Wikipedia rabbit hole.

Pura Dalem Agung, which is in the Ubud Monkey Forest.

Outside the walls of the temple. We were not able to go inside.

Looking over the walls to the inside.

Pura Taman Saraswati in Ubud. Again, we were unable to go into the temple but could walk around outside.

Goa Gajah, which is also known as the Elephant Cave.

Looking across the pools at the temple complex toward the cave entrance.


At the cave entrance. The inside was an airless T-shaped chamber with absolutely no decoration.

Here are some photos of the Gunung Kawi temple complex, which was absolutely stunning.

To reach the complex, first we had to walk down, down, down many steps cut into a rocky hillside. My people are stopped at a vessel of holy water, where they sprinkled some on their heads before entering.

Walking among the bale (pavilions) toward a candi bentar (split gate).

I think my favorite was Pura Taman Ayun in Mengwi. The complex was a rectangle surrounded by two different moats. The meru (tiered towers) were the largest of any we had seen — each one represented a different mountain in Bali. The moats represented the flow of water down from the mountains, through the rice fields, on to the sea, and back again.

A small corner of the temple and inner moat.

This is a major temple, yet the place was not overrun with tourists. Even better, the outside was not crowded with vendors trying to sell us stuff. It was a quiet, peaceful place and I thoroughly enjoyed it.

The final temple we visited was Tanah Lot. This one is famous for its seaside setting, but it’s also known for being completely crowded with tourists and thus something of a disappointment. Personally, I prefer to decide for myself if something is going to disappoint me, so I was perfectly willing to brave the crowds to find out.

Tanah Lot is only accessible by a narrow causeway at low tide; however, we managed to time our visit for high tide, so we were unable to go all the way to the temple and could only see it from the shore.

The temple (right) shown in relation to land (left). The connecting causeway is covered by the tide.

Yes, it was crowded. Yes, it was still worth visiting.

One final temple for you. This one is totally different, as it is the small temple in the wee village we rented a house in. We didn’t go up to it, as it we thought that visitors might not be welcome.

If you’re interested in learning more about Balinese temple architecture, I found this to be helpful.

I hope y’all aren’t getting bored with all these posts about Bali. There’s so much more that I’d like to share with you, but I think I’ll limit myself to maybe three more posts.

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3 Responses to Bali: Temples

  1. Completely fascinating — this post makes me want to visit Bali!

  2. bdaiss says:

    What beautiful craftsmanship and artistry. I can only imagine what an amazing experience it was.

  3. How majestic! You have me so intrigued by this place, Jen. It looks amazing.

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