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Bali is a beautiful Island in Indonesia known as the “Island of the Thousand Temples”

or the “Island of the Gods”, because of the great number of wonderful Hindu temples
there are in the Island. It says that Bali has more temples than houses. Each village of
Bali has several temples. Besides, each home in the Island has its own small temple.
All Bali temples have a special orientation from the mountains and the sea.

Usually the temples of Bali are ornamented with an impressive and intricate set of
carvings, mainly on the gateways. Besides, almost always a couple of magnificent
stone statues are always saving the temples.

According to the Balinese tradition, the temples are the point of meeting amongst the
humans and the gods. The temples are specially considered during some festival days
or in the “odalan” (temple anniversaries). In these dates the temples are decorated to
praise the gods. The word in Sanskrit for temple is “Pura”, which means “space
surrounded by walls”.

In Bali each thing or activity has its own temple, there are village temples, family
temples, rice fields temples, temples for animals, etc. Nevertheless the bigger Hindu
temples on Bali are used only in special occasions. Most temples of Bali can be
classified into these categories: Pura Puseh (origin temples), which are the most
important and are reserved to the founders of villages (Balinese are worshipers of
their ancestors). Pura Desa dedicated to protector spirits that guard the villagers. Pura
Dalem (dead temple), where is venerate Durga the Shiva’s wife and deity of the dark
and destruction. Besides, there are several temples dedicated to the spirits that protect
the agriculture, these temples are known as Pura Subak

However, there are around 50 largest temples and only some of them are considered
the most important of Bali, amongst them are:

• Pura Tanah Lot, it is an impressive temple near the village of Beraban to 13 Km


of Tabanan. The temple is suspended on a huge black volcanic rock in middle of the
sea. The temple has only one tower and it is decorated by foliage spilling over the
cliffs. The image of this temple remembers a beautiful Japanese bonsai. Tanah Lot
like most sea temples of Bali is dedicated to the guardian spirits of the sea. According
to the chronicles this wonderful temple was constructed by the priest Nirartha in the
XIV century. It can walk to the temple only when the tide is low. This temple is
opened only to Hindus and is closed for tourists.

• Pura Besakih, it is the most important and holiest temple of Bali. It was originally
dedicated to the god Gunung Agun (the mountain) since pre historical times.
Currently the temple is a religious complex composed by around thirty sanctuaries;
most of them were constructed between XIV and XVII centuries. An important
feature of the temple is the great number of Merus (wooden buildings with pagodas as
roofs). This temple was also a center of political power, between I and V centuries,
the temple was the palace of the Geigel- Kiungkung dynasty. Now this temple is
considered the “Mother Temple” of Bali and is very respected by all Bali citizens. The
paramount sanctuary of the temple is the Pura Panataran Agung. The main inside
patio hosts the Trisakti shrine, which is dedicated to the Hindu trinity of Brahma,
Visnu and Siwa , which is very honored during the festivals that is also the most
amazing time to visit the temple .
• Pura Kehen, it is located at the south slope of Bangli hill, is one of the oldest
temples of Bali. The temple saves some ancient manuscripts made on bronze. This
sanctuary is the second largest temple of Bali. There are three patios in the temple,
which are decorated with statues, wonderful carvings and are connected by stairs.
Pura Kehen was founded in the XI century by Cri Brahma Kenuti Ketu. One of the
most representative elements of the temple is old Banyan tree that is in the second
courtyard.

• Pura Ulun Danu Batur, it is located in the Batur village in the Kintamani district.
It is the second most important temple of Bali after Pura Besakih. The temple is
situated in a beautiful location at the Batur Lake at the foot of the Gunung Batur
Volcano. The religious complex is composed by nine sanctuaries dedicated to Hindu
gods like the goddess of the Batur lake, Dewei Danu or the God of the mountain Batu.
The original temple was built in the XI century; unfortunately it was destroyed by a
volcanic eruption in 1926. The current temple was reconstructed by the local people
and has a notorious Chinese influence in its architectonic style.

• Pura Uluwatu, it is another wonderful temple that combines perfectly the human
art with the beauty of the nature. It is located at the western of the Bukit Peninsula.
The temple is constructed at the top of a cliff 90 meters over the sea. There are not
accurate registers about the age of this temple, but it is one of the most ancient of Bali.
Pura Uluwatu like Tanah Lot is dedicated to the sea deities. The access to the temple
is only allowed one at a time. Pura Ulawatu has three inner courts which are
surrounded by coral stone. Besides, both the front and the inside halls are ornamented
with stylized birds.

There are many other temples in Bali such as Lempuyang, Goa Lawah, Makori,
Watukaru, Jagadnahata, Maospahit, Tirta Empul, Pengerebogan, Andakasa, Masceti,
Sakenan, Dalem, Ubud's Pura Taman Saraswati,etc. All of them are great architectural
gems and each one has something unique to offer. Therefore the countless and
amazing temples of Bali are considered all together, one of the great man-made
wonders.

History
The Island of Bali was initially inhabited for people from the Maritime Southeast
Asia. But the greatest cultural influence arrived from India since the first century AD.
Oldest temples of Bali were constructed from 913 AD such as Pura Ulun Danu Batur,
Pura Kehen, Gunungkawi, amongst other.

Temple of Tanah Lot in Bali


The Hindu influence in Bali was major between 1293 and 1520 when the Hindu
Majapahit Empire founded a colony in Java; but when this colony declined; the
intellectual and political elite migrate to Bali, further consolidate the Hindu influence
in the region. Temples like Tanah Lot were built in this historical period, during
which, many Hindu priests arrived to Bali.

At the beginning of the XVI century began a period of cultural independence in Bali
because of the Migration of the Majapahit Empire towards east. During this time
several other temples were constructed in Bali, but with an style some different.
Several parts of the Besakih temple, were built in this period as well as the Sangeh
Monkey Sanctuary.

Now, the temples of Bali are still important places of worship. Most temples of the
Island are scenario every year of colorful religious festivals. Usually people carry
offerings to the temple to honoring the three gods of the Hindu trilogy. These
offerings consist of palm leafs, flowers and foodstuffs. All these offerings represent in
the Hindu cosmology to Siwa (Shiva), whereas the holy water represents to Wisnu
and the incense represents to Brahama. The temples of Bali have still a very important
role in the historical development of the region.