Included in most itineraries to central Bali, Pura Tanah Lot is a popular tourist destination located in the Beraban village of Tabanan. This temple in Bali is perched on an outcrop amidst clear blue waters and can be reached by a rocky causeway during low tide. You'll be surrounded by souvenir shops and restaurants on either side while making your way there. The base of the temple compound is carved with guardian sea snakes, and there is a holy fountain inside where you can receive blessings. It is one of the seven sea temples of Bali, built in the 16th century in honour of the Balinese Sea Gods. Its picturesque backdrop draws in loads of tourists all year round, making it the busiest during early evenings when the sun is about to set. Do note that non-Balinese cannot enter the actual temple, and it can be difficult to find cheap modes of transportation back from here; app-based taxi services are not allowed to pick tourists up.
Bearing a little similarity to the Tanah Lot temple, Uluwatu is another important Balinese temple. It offers tourists a glimpse into the traditional culture and religious practices of Bali. This temple in Bali lies 70 meters high on the top of a cliff, producing a breathtaking backdrop of the Indian Ocean, the base of which is a surfer hotspot. However, the best part about this gorgeous setting is when it is time for sunset at this scenic spot in Bali, the whole sky changes its shades, giving you the picture perfect moment. In addition, there is also a small amphitheatre on the temple complex where local Balinese people perform the Kecak fire dance.
Located 1,000 metres high on the slopes of Mount Agung, Pura Besakih is a massive complex with over 80 temples within. Referred to as the 'Mother Temple' of Bali, the main shrine is that of Pura Agung Penataran which is divided into seven areas to represent the seven layers of the universe. There are detailed carvings on the walls which are partly made of lava rock and partly of concrete. Multi-tiered structures known as Meru tower over the buildings, and are a common feature of Balinese temples. Exploring this place can easily take 2-3 hours of your day.
Goa Gajah is a temple in Bali that is a spiritual compound meant for meditation and praying. Located in Bedulu village about six kilometres from Ubud, the compound comprises of relics, intricate carvings, fountains, bathing pools and the namesake cave. The northern side of the complex exhibits Buddhist influences, with several indentations present where priests might have once have meditated. The southern side, by contrast, has more Hindu elements, with a shrine dedicated to Lord Ganesh and Hindu angels pouring water from waterspouts. A wide gaping mouth is carved into solid rock, that acts as the entrance to the main cave. At the end are peaceful streams and rice fields to bring your visit to a scenic end.
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Situated west of Lake Bratan in Bedugul, Pura Ulun Danu Bratan is a 17th-century temple dedicated to the Hindu trinity of Brahma-Vishnu-Shiva. Surrounded by the lake which gives it a 'floating' appearance, this temple in Bali is constructed in traditional Balinese style with tiered shrines to honour the Hindu gods. The backdrop of the Bedugul mountains makes this a picturesque site of religious worship.
Tirta Empul is a beautiful water temple in Bali located in Tampaksiring. It's built around a spring where the water is considered sacred by devotees, who flock to the bathing pools for ritual purification. All the baths, pools and fish ponds make up the outer perimeter, while the main temple complex is divided into the traditional three courtyards, a key feature of Balinese temples. The inner and most sacred sanctum is forbidden to non-devotees. The outer area may still be appreciated, populated by beautiful sculptures and relics. The temple exudes an aura of serenity, a contrast against the buzz of the shops and hawkers you will encounter as soon as you exit the compound.
An iconic landmark in Tampaksiring, Gunung Kawi is famous for its 10 rock-cut shrines that tower above you at 23 feet. Situated across Pakerisan river, a stone archway leads you to the massive carvings made into the cliff niches. These ten structures are believed to be memorials of royalty belonging to the 11th-century Udayana dynasty, with the five eastern shrines being dedicated to King Anuk Wangsu and his family, while those on the west built for his concubines and lesser queens. Small caves made of stone are situated next to the shrines, serving as meditation areas used by Buddhist monks. An aesthetic delight, this must not be missed while visiting the temples in Bali.
Built-in 1634 by the Raja of Mengwi dynasty to honour his noble ancestors, Pura Taman Ayun is an ancient temple in Bali in Mengwi. The ornamented gateway of the temple leads to a fountain spouting water through nine jets to represent the nine gods of Hinduism. The old-world charm and architectural marvel of this temple draw visitors here throughout the year.
Located in central Ubud, Pura Taman Saraswati is a sandstone carved temple dedicated to Saraswati, the Hindu goddess of knowledge and arts. Notable for the beautiful lotus pond and water garden that surround the main temple area, it also features a cafe for some snacks and a traditional dance performance to complete your visit to this spiritual temple.
Pura Lempuyang Luhur is a Hindu temple in Bali located on the slopes of Mount Lempuyang in Karangasem. Lying 1175m above sea level, reaching the temple requires a steep climb of over 1700 steps. However, one can stop along the way to take some beautiful pictures of the panoramic Mount Agung and the Candi Bentar gate.
Goa Lawah or the 'Bat Cave' Temple is quite literally a cave filled with hundreds of bats. Located east of Klungkung regency, this sea-facing temple houses Shaivite shrines and dragon motifs on the pavilions within its compound. Hundreds of bats chirp and circle around shrines in the central courtyard, giving a frenzied atmosphere to the place. It is believed, paradoxically, that this was a site for deep meditation as the continuous high-pitched chirping helped priests focus. Religious ceremonies take place here and watching the pilgrims offer prayers can be quite interesting to watch.
Located in Kintamani, Central Bali, Pura Ulun Danu Batur is a Hindu temple dedicated to the Lake Goddess Dewi Danu. Comprising of nine temples, the majestic compound features 285 shrines and is one of the most important temples in Bali. The temple was damaged by volcanic eruptions before being rebuilt in 1926, and with its traditoinal Balinese architecture continues to be visually delightful.
Located to the west of Singaraja regency in Northern Bali, Pura Pulaki is a famous 15th-century Hindu temple. Set against a hilly backdrop close to the Pantai Gondol beach, this temple in Bali is usually guarded by numerous monkeys in the daytime. Believed to be built by the Hindu priest Hyang Niratha, the temple is beautifully carved and a must visit.
At the foot of Mount Batukaru, 2270 m above sea level, lies the Pura Luhur Batukaru temple, an ancient 11th century Hindu shrine dedicated to Lord Mahadeva. The lush forestry and drizzly climate have led to a mossy, misty atmosphere lingering around the area. Several parts of the temple are forbidden to non-pilgrims, however it provides a quiet, calm spot to appreciate Hindu custom.
One of the few ancient religious places in Seminyak, Pura Petitenget is a 16th-century Hindu temple in Bali constructed of beautiful red brick and sandstone. It is one of the series of sea temples that guard the island and has many small pavilions and shrines in it's complex. Ideally visited during its anniversary celebrations on a Wednesday, when it's decorated with banners and parasols.
Considered the mother temple of the former Bangli kingdom, the Pura Kehen or Kehen temple is a majestic structure in eastern Bali, dedicated to the God of Fire. Known for the massive Banyan tree inside the complex, the temple's inner sanctum is intricately carved with various Hindu gods and goddesses. Feasts to honour deities are still held here, making it an important site of religious worship.
Located in east Padangbai, Pura Silayukti is an 11th-century temple believed to be the resting place of Mpu Kuturan, a spiritual leader who greatly influenced Balinese religious and cultural traditions. Perched on a hill plateau about 50 metres above sea level, the temple is a must-visit owing to its beautiful sculptures and stonework.
Located in Denpasar near Puputan Gardens, Bail, Pura Agung Jatnatha is an iconic landmark and a very popular temple in Bali. The temple is dedicated to Sanghyang Widi, the supreme god. The main shrine is made of white coral stone and represents the foundation of the world through a beautiful throne (heaven) set upon a mythical turtle and two nagas. Ideally visited in the morning, when the crowd is yet to arrive.
Also known as "Meeting of the three", Pura Samuan Tiga in Bedulu village features detailed sandstone carvings and grand gateways. The temple is believed to represent the consensu between three sects of Hinduism, and unlike other temples in Bali has seven courtyards inside. Surrounded by large trees and rivers, the temple is an important religious landmark.
On the rim of the Mount Batur Caldera sits the Pura Ulun Danu Batur, also known as Pura Batur temple. Dedicated primarily to the Goddess of Lake Batur, Dewi Danu, the 17th-century temple compound contains an astonishing 285 different shrines and pavilions honouring a variety of deities for agriculture, harmony, fertility, arts and crafts and more.
Pura Ponjok Batu is an ancient Hindu temple in Bali, located in the northern regency, Buleleng. Made of black lava rock, the temple features three beautifully carved shrines where visitors can make offerings. It is famous for the boat shrine that stands on a rock in the waterfront, and is believed to have been built for the worship of the 15th century Hindu priest Niratha.
The Monkey Forest in Ubud, Bali hides another gem in its southwestern corner - the Pura Dalem Agung Padangtegal, or the 'Padangtegal Great Temple of Death', dedicated to Lord Shiva. Thought to have been built around 1350, the Kecak dance performances at the temple in addition to the excellent craftsmanship make this a significant religious and cultural attraction of Ubud.
Once the centre of the Pejeng kingdom, Pura Pusering Jagat is unique for having its an entrance at the rear. Featuring carved scenes from the Mahabharata, the temple is dedicated to Shiva and attracts couples who worship at the phallic stones present. This temple in Bali also houses artefacts and stones dating back to 1251, and still retains its religious tranquillity.
Pura Penataran Sasih in Pejeng is a beautiful 13th-century Hindu temple in Bali. Once the state temple of Pejeng kingdom, it houses a tall statute of Lord Ganesh in the middle sanctum. The temple is famous for the colossal bronze drum situated high up in the pavilion, known as the Moon of Pejeng.
One of the least known places located in Gianyar, Bali, Pura Mascet is a beautiful Hindu temple across Masceti beach believed to be guarding the island against evil spirits. This temple in Bali is often visited by farmers praying for a healthy harvest free from pests and diseases, the temple's sanctity demands there to be no sunbathing or swimming at Masceti beach. Ideal for those interested in Balinese culture and ritualistic traditions.
Perched on the Puncak Penulisan mountain about 3kms from Kintamani, Pura Puncak Penulisan is a megalithic Hindu temple dedicated to multiple gods. Dating back to 300 BCE, the temple is used to worship Shiva, Vishnu, Brahma and Ganesh. The traditional architectural features such as pavilions, courtyards and split gates are present, while cool and serene ambience adds to the charm of this temple.
Located on the western coast of Lombok, Pura Segara is a brightly- coloured beach temple in Bali that attracts visitors throughout the year. Surrounded by fishing villages, this temple is decorated with traditional Balinese stonework, but instead of the usual courtyard, features staircases and statues in an open space. There are Muslim and Christian cemeteries too near the white-walled complex of Pura Segara.
Off the main road from Denpasar to Ubud, in the small village of Batuan lies the Pura Puseh temple. The 11th-century temple is heavily engraved and gilded with gold, featuring statues of the Hindu trinity of Brahma, Vishnu and Shiva. The carved gateway and multi-tiered shrines in this temple in Bali are archetypal of the local architecture, and the traditional dance performances held here make this a must-see.
The iconic Hindu temple of Danau Batur, Bali, Pura Bukit Mentik is famously known for being the 'Lucky Temple' The eruption of 1974 engulfed Danau Batur in molten lava, somehow leaving the temple and its huge banyan tree untouched. Constructed in classical Balinese architecture, the temple features intricate stone carving and high Meru shrines, making it a famous cultural attraction of the city.
Located in central Jimbaran, Pura Ulun Siwi is an 18th-century Hindu temple in Bali with a unique architecture quite different from Balinese temples. The temple‰Ûªs gateways are made of coral stone while the inner courtyard houses the majestic 11-tiered pagoda. Believed to guard the island from evil spirits, the temple is on a cliff and offers a spectacular view. Beware the monkeys that might snatch your belongings though.
Pura Puseh Batuan is a beautiful 11th century Hindu Temple located in the namesake village of Batuan. Its five-tiered Candi Bentar gateway leads into multiple thatched-roof shirnes, featuring floral motifs and statues of Brahma,Vishnu and Shiva. Local artists display their works in a hall located opposite the temple, and the best time to visit is during its Piodalan anniversary celebrations.
Located across the hillside in Candidasa, Pura Candidasa is a gorgeous Hindu temple in Bali dedicated to Hariti, goddess of fertility and rain. Also called the Temple of Ten Children, legend has it that Hariti was a barren woman desperate to conceive, who ultimately gave birth to ten children. The carvings inside depict the tale and offer a glimpse into another fascinating aspect of Balinese mythology.
Built in the 13th century during the arrival of the Majahpit dynasty, Pura Masohpit is a Hindu Temple in Bali located in Denpasar. Notable for its red-brick architecture, the temple is the only one in Bali to adhere to the concept of Panca Mandala where the innermost sanctum is at the centre instead of facing the mountain. It is a testimony to Bali's rich religious and cultural legacy.
Located in Kubutambahan about 12kms from Bali, Pura Maduwe Karang temple is notable for the floral motifs and epic panels carved on its walls. Dedicated to Batara Madang Karang, the god of fertility, the temple features the traditional three courtyards and a split Candi Bentar gateway. A famous carving depicts a man riding a bicycle.
A spooky heritage site is one way to describe the Pura Dalem Sidan in Gianyar. Also called the Temple of Death Rites, it's dedicated to Shiva and Durga and graphically depicts the fate of sinners- heads sawn off, smashed infants and other terrible relics. Home to several bats as well, this one can make tourists uneasy.
Located in Ungasan, near Green Bowl Beach, Pura Mas Suka is one of the least known seaside temples in Bali. One of the seven temples devoted to the Sea Gods, the temple is perched on a cliff overlooking the Indian Ocean that provides a spectacular view. Do keep in mind that getting to the temple is a bit of a struggle due to the narrow roads and lack of signage.
Situated right off the main road of Batubalan in Gianyar regency, Pura Puseh is a 10th-century Hindu temple in Bali is well-known for its stunning stonework. Famous for the moat filled with lotuses that surrounds the temple, it incorporates Hindu and Buddist elements in it's carvings to represent Balinese myths and legends.
Located to the east of lake Batur in Trunyan village, Pura Pancering Jagat is an ancient Hindu temple famous for the massive 4m tall statue of the village's guardian spirit. Featuring a seven-tiered Meru shrine, this temple in Bali is believed to have been built from a farmer's discovery of the statue long ago. The fascinating history and Balinese architectural features make this a must-visit.
Located in Mas, halfway between Denpasar and Ubud, Pura Taman Pule Mas is an ancient Hindu temple in Bali revered for being the resting place of the Hindu priest Niratha. The temple houses some of the priest's relics as well and comes alive with celebration and cheer during the Kuningan festival. During this time, traditional dance performances are held in the temple courtyard.
Situated in village Kutri in Bali, Pura Kedarman is an 11th-century Hindu temple featuring several pavilions and statutes. A staircase in the temple leads to an impressive statue of the Goddess Durga slaying a possessed Bull, along with several Lingas, inscriptions and a small Ganesh statue. Also called Pura Bukit Dharma, this temple in Bali offers a stunning panoramic view in addition to the intricate craftsmanship of the sculptures.
A short boat ride from Bali to Nusa Penida leads you to Pura Dalem Penataran Ped, an ancient temple revered by Balinese Hindus. Here God is worshipped for the balance of Purusa-Pradana, or the spiritual and physical source, so that it may bring peace and prosperity. This is represented through two statues carved on the limestone structure that add to the charm of this divine temple.
One of the least visited temples in Bali, Gunung Kawi Sebatu Temple is a beautiful water temple located in Tellalang, Gianyar. Featuring lotus ponds surrounded by greenery, the temple also houses a water garden where the statute of Goddess Saraswari is kept. A split Candi Bentar gate takes leads you to the carved shrines inside.
Located in Tanjung Benoa, Pura Dalem Ning Lan Taman Beji is a beautiful Hindu temple in Bali that is famous for it's intricately carved gateways. Made of white sandstone, three gateways frame the gold-painted wooden doors which have reliefs and motifs carved on them. The temple is believed to be used for cleansing the sandalwood statues and is mostly open for religious ceremonies only.
A twin to Pura Puseh Batuan, Pura Dasar Batuan is a Hindu temple known for it's classic Balinese architecture. Built during the 11th century, the elaborately carved temple has witnessed the change of multiple dynasties in Bali. Traditional dance performances such as the Gambuh dance are also held for visitors.
Situated at the northern tip of Balangan beach in Kuta, Pura Dalem Balangan is an ancient temple in Bali with detailed stonework. Having been renovated multiple times since the 1980s, the temple features a traditional Candi Bentar gateway. Massive stones with a flat surface are inside the main temple compound, believed to have been used for samadhi or intense meditation.
About 200m east of the Blahbatuh market lies the Home of the Giant Head, known as Pura Gaduh. The temple houses the 1m-high stone head of Kebo Iwa, believed to be the giant aide to the Bedulu King protecting the kingdom from foreign invasions. The fascinating history behind this temple makes it a great attraction for the cultural aficionado.
South of Gegar beach lies the Pura Gegar, a small temple in Bali perched on the cliffside. The climb up is a bit strenuous, and the temple remains closed to visitors unless a puja is being performed. However, the compactness of the temple allows one to appreciate it‰Ûªs architecture from outside itself, and its location offers a spellbinding view and great photography opportunities.
Rambut Siwi temple, located about 2 hours away from Denpasar in Negara regency, is a shrine built to preserve the 16th-century Hindu Priest Danghyan Nirathas lock of hair. It is believed to be a protective token for the area. Set on a cliff overlooking the black-sand beach, the temple is surrounded by untouched natural beauty home to many endemic species.
One of the few religious attractions in Kuta, Vihara Dharmayana temple is an old Chinese Buddhist temple located just 1 km from the coastal strip. Featuring striking red walls and murals, the temple was even visited by the 14th Dalai Lama. The lanterns and dragon-themed decor marks out its Chinese character, and it becomes especially crowded during the lunar new year.
Situated 3 kms south from central Bangli, Pura Dalem Penunggekan depicts gory details of what happens to sinners in the afterlife. A temple of the dead, it's panels are carved with sinners becoming moneys and the horrifying fate that awaits adulterers. Sinners are shown begging to be spared, making this place a slightly disturbing but culturally a very fascinating temple to visit in Bali.
Pura Gede Luhur Batu Ngaus is a 17th century Hindu Balinese temple. Perched on top of a black lava outcrop on Mengening beach in Mengwi, the temple is built in traditional Balinese architecture and is believed to give blessings of fertility and medicine. It is reminiscient is of the more famous Tanah Lot, but lis far less crowded.
Located about 11kms from Singaraga, Pura Dalem Jagaraga is a 12th century Hindu temple dedicated to Shiva. Built in the traditional Balinese style with three courtyards, the temple features demonic carvings and motifs, such as that of the demon Rangda. The temple is also imbued with colonial history, having been demolished by the Dutch and then rebuilt.
Located just 2 kms from the Ubud market at the end of Campuhan bridge, is Pura Gunung Lebah. The temple was built in the 8th century and is dedicated to the goddess of Batur. It features the traditional Padmasana or empty throne on the carved tower-like structure, and has pavilions where the ceremonies are conducted. Lush greenery and the sound of flowing water add it's charm.
Tips to remember while visiting temples in Bali: 1. Follow the rules of the temples. Some common ones include dressing modestly. A sarong or sash is usually provided to visitors before entering. Another common rule forbids menstruating women from entering temples. 2. Beware of scammers. You do not need a 'guide' to explore the temples, and you do not need to buy sarongs that they will try to sell to you since these are usually part of the entrance fee of temples. 3. Arrange for transport in advance. A lot of places are easy to arrive at but can be difficult to leave. As a tourist, local cab drivers will often try to rip you off, and you must haggle with them to bring prices down. 4. With so many architectural marvels awaiting you at the Island of the Gods, your trip is sure to be a memorable one. These temples are just the tip of the iceberg, Bali has much more to its rich culture that you can explore. Once you have visited a couple of temples you will be much more familiar and comfortable with the local customs and practices. However, do not expect that you won't be blown away by the next shrine you visit. Creativity and Religion both thrive in this small province, and combine to produce some of the finest structures you will have ever seen.