Kecak Dance: A Spectacle of Fire and Light at Bali's Uluwatu Temple

The mesmerizing island of Indonesia, Bali, never fails to amaze us with its marvellous display of the glittering natural beauty and utmost serenity. But at the same time, it is highly loaded with the cultural and traditional practices of different religions and communities of the Balinese people. This makes it even more irresistible for any tourists to miss out the chance of visiting Bali at least once in his/her lifetime. Among all the major traditional forms of art, drama and dance in Bali, The Kecak Dance of the Uluwatu temple serves as a pioneer in attracting a large portion of tourists from all over the world.

The Uluwatu Temple 

Location – Jalan Raya Uluwatu, Pecatu, Badung, Bali 80361, Indonesia

Timings – Daily from 09:00 AM to 06:00 PM

Entrance ticket price – Around IDR 20,000

Brief History of the Temple -
It is a Balinese Hindu Sea Temple which is regarded as one of the main spiritual pillars of Bali. According to Historians, the temple is believed to be built on or before the 11th century. Few theories claim that there existed originally a small temple in the same site which was largely renovated and expanded by a Javanese sage named Empu Kuturan. The temple stands at the “edge” (known as ‘ulu’ in Balinese language) of a 70 meters high “rock” (which in Balinese language is called ‘watu’). According to the prevailing legends of this area, this rock is regarded as a part of Dewi Danu’s (Water Goddess of the Balinese Hindus) fossilized boat.

What makes the Uluwatu temple special?

To answer this question, a large number of arguments can be listed in favour of the Uluwatu Temple designating it as one of the must-visit places in Bali. Such as –

·        Daily performance of the Kecak Dance in a nearby amphitheatre.

·        The splendid beauty of the setting Sun and the whole picturesque scenery of the surroundings make it impossible for tourists to miss the place.

·        The wavy motion of the Indian Ocean makes it too awesome to overlook the marvellous calmness of the moving water.

·        The deep vegetation along with a very thick undergrowth is present surrounding the temple which brings in added flavours of peace of mind and comfort of the eyes.

·        Huge number of monkeys can be found in the forests surrounding the temple, who, according to the local legends are claimed to be loyal guards of the temple.

The Kecak Dance

The Kecak Dance of Bali is regarded as one of the topmost iconic glimpses of the rich cultural heritage of Indonesia. It is a traditional Hindu dance form based on the stories of the iconic epic “The Ramayana.” The performance initiates with the order of exile of Sri Rama, the prince of the kingdom of Ayodhya, by his father King Dasharatha, the king of Ayodhya, who was misguided by the evil tricks of his second wife Kaikeyi (The stepmother of Sri Rama). In the deepest regions of a lonely forest, Sri Rama was accompanied by his wife Sita and his youngest brother Lakshmana. There in the woods, Surpanakha, the sister of Rakshash King Ravana, fell in love with Lakshmana and proposed him. After being rejected, Surpanakha tried to attack and eventually lost her nose by the sword of Lakshmana. Being very angry at his sister’s insult, king Ravana abducted Sita and took her to his kingdom which leads to a long lasting fight between Rama and Ravana where Sri Rama took the help of the monkey king Sugrib, Hanuman and a whole fleet of monkey soldiers. After the end of the long warfare, Ravana eventually gets killed and the two lovers meet again under the twilight of the setting sun.

The Kecak dance show starts at about 06:00 PM under the lone lights of the setting sun. A large number of about 75 male dancers descend onto the stage and enact the first five episodes of The Ramayana in varying pace, depending upon the mood of the situation that is being enacted. The show ends with a splendid ritual of lightning up the centre torch against the dark deep sky with gradual submissiveness of the grouped chanting. The silhouette of the fire under the night sky along with the sound of the ocean makes the whole atmosphere too difficult to resist the chance of experiencing at least once in a lifetime.

Getting the tickets for the dance is not at all a hectic problem. You can visit the ticketing booths straight away without any prior reservations one or two hours before the commencement of the dance at about 04:30 PM. The path to the temple might be a bit rough for plain land travelers because in many places, there are fenced paths, advent of wild animals and very steep slopes. So it is always advisable to wear full-shoes and avoid slippers for minimizing any unwanted events and the measure of inconvenience for the travel towards the temple.

The Uluwatu Temple being surrounded by deep forests which are home to a large number of monkeys and long-tailed macaques, it is absolutely necessary to carry essential belongings and food items in fully covered bags or backpacks for saving them from the grasp of these animals.

Ticket Price – IDR 100,000 per person

Timings – 06:00 PM to 07:30 PM

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