In Bali, traditional religion is very alive. You can find more than 20,000 temples across the Island of the Gods. They are the sites for regular rituals, spanning life from birth to death. The temples in Bali are unique in architecture and structure. They are built according to strict rules. The temples are an essential part of Balinese life, and Village organizations make sure that their temples remain well maintained and beautiful. Their deep spiritual power makes them very popular among visitors.
Temples in Bali are homes of deities. Usually, there are at least three public temples within every Balinese village. Pura Puseh, the Temple of Origin, was built to honour the God of Creation, Brahma, Pura Desa Bale Agung was built to honour the God of Life, Wisnu, and Pura Dalem was built to honour the God of reincarnation and death, Siwa Durga.
Tourists are allowed to enter only some areas of the temples. And only if they are wearing decent clothes (sarong) and behave accordingly. In some sacred temples, tourists are not allowed to enter the main area, which is called Inner Sanctum. It is only for the use of religious activities.
Some rules to keep in mind
Luckily, most temples can be visited, yet you should follow some rules. Women and men have to dress modestly.
In many temples, visitors are required to cover themselves with a sarong. Usually, a sarong is provided at the entrance in exchange for a small donation to the temple or the village. That is a way to give back to the local people.
In most temples, some areas are restricted and for ‘worshippers only’. Make sure to read and respect the signs. In many temples, a small entrance fee is charged. The money is used for renovations and ceremonies.
Furthermore, visitors need to behave modestly. Women who are having their period are asked not to enter. Visitors who respect these rules get breathtaking views in exchange, especially at Bali’s most significant and most famous temples.
Balinese temples are majestic and beautiful. One of the most famous temples is Tanah Lot, which is built on a rock in the ocean. This “directional temple” is especially iconic. You will get the most beautiful views at sunrise or sunset. If you go there, early ist is less crowded than during the day. Alternatively, you can visit Uluwatu temple or Pura Luhur in the very south of the island. The architecture is not as impressive as of some of the other famous temples, but this temple adorns a cliffside and are home to a colony of monkeys. They are always happy to accept your food or might steal your sunglasses. You can watch a traditional Kecak dance performance at sunset. If you want to get the full monkey-experience, come to Ubud’s monkey forest. This is a protected site of ancient moss-covered temples and monuments. It is dedicated to the monkey god, Hanoman.
Sacred and Part of Life
Bali’s temples are sacred to the local people. When you visit a temple, chances are high to witness a traditional ceremony. The most sacred and important temple is Besakih. This is a towering mountain-top structure which is made of many smaller temples and staircases. It is also known as the “mother temple”. Balinese people treat this site with great reverence. Besakih has been a site for pilgrimages for more than 1,000 years. It even survived the nearby volcanic eruptions of Gunung Agung.
Pura Danu Bratan is another significant temple for Balinese people. The picturesque site was built at the shore of Lake Bratan (Beratan) in the mountain highlands near Bedugul. It is not as smaller than it looks on pictures, yet it is a very scenic place and essential to the locals.
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