The Sacred Places
Bali indeed lives up to its other name, the Land of the Spirits. Everywhere you go, you see temples. As the majority Balinese are Hindus – about 90% of the total population, you can expect festivals happening almost every other day. In fact, along our stay there for 5 days and 4 nights, there is always signboard on the streets advising us to slow down to observe rituals taking place. Every morning or evening (once a day), locals would place offerings, consists of flowers, rice, cookies and joss stick at their doorsteps to ward off evils. If the offerings are being placed on the altars, they were meant for the divine beings.
My guide, Wayan Mudra, told us that Balinese hardly leave their own country as they had to fork out a lot of money for festivals alone – birth, death, birth of the gods, family tradition, etc in which the cost to have all the festivals ranging from at least RP500,000 (RM200) to millions. It is not easy for them, as their income per capita averaged about RP1 million (RM400). Even a child who is still in the womb would be taxed even before he/she is born!
Each temple has several sections. One is the public compound where people would congregate to watch dramas, plays or even cock fights. Cock fights are not for gambling purposes. They would need to have a festival to have cock fights. Other than that, it is considered illegal. Either cock has to bleed and die in order to appease the spirits in the temple.
I can’t remember functions of the other sections though. It has something to do with the Trinity Hindu Gods.. I have short attention span at times.
There are rules to be adhered before entering temples. Ladies, if it is the time of the month, you are not allowed to go into temples. Visitors should dress decently before entering temples. For those people who are wearing shorts would be required to don on sarungs (available for free at the ticketing booth), before entering.
Puri Tampaksiring a.k.a. Tirtha Empul
A 10th Century temple. As we were passing by this temple, on the way to Gunung Kawi, I saw a lot of people gathering in the temple for a festival. Wayan said, Tirtha means “water” and Empul means “rise”. The spring water arises from the ground. The holy water from the spring is used to ward off evil spirits. WY and I had a go and washed our face with the holy spring water like other Balinese who were performing prayers there.
The banyan tree here is already more than 1,000 years old. Everything here is old but amazingly, well maintained, despite most of the statues were covered by moss.
Puri Taman Ayun
It’s a Mengwi’s royal family shrine built in the 18th century. The temple with a foremost garden, in which the layout represents heaven, where celestial maidens and deified ancestors relax and play.
We could just watch from outside as tourists were not allowed to loiter inside the temple. The graceful multi-roofed meru (pagodas) towering above the walls like the lofty masts of a huge ship.
Puri Danu Bratan
Situated next to Lake Bratan, built around the 17th Century. When we went there, it was drizzling. Everything is covered with fog. It can be quite cold up here. We were lucky enough to have time to snap some photos before the area was sealed with thick fog.
At Tasik Bratan, they have water activities such as canoeing. The water here is not used for drinking as the cremated ashes were thrown into them. Geez. I wonder where did they get water to cook our food? I refused to think about it.
It’s a harmonious fusion of Hindu and Buddhist shrines. On the lake, there is a two multiple meru (pagodas) sitting at the edge of Lake Bratan. Within the vicinity, there is a stupa (memorial shrine) of 4 buddha niches around its sides facing the four major compass directions.
Puri Tanah Lot
This is probably the most famous temple in Bali, built in the 16th Century. If you had gone to Bali, and never been here – then consider yourself haven’t been to Bali at all.
While we were waiting for the magnificent sunset view, we saw a few tourists trying to cross the waves during high tide into the temple. I won’t do that if I were them. I was given the understanding that, there were poisonous sea snakes living in the caves and rocks around the base of the outcropping, believed to be guarding the temple against intruders.
The snakes, were believed to originated from the sash given by a legendary Hindu priest, Danghyang Nirartha, who requested a temple to be built here to commemorate his visit.
If I were to go again, I would join the westerners at the restaurants by the sea for a better sunset view.
Carved out of solid rocks in the 11th Century, believed to be by a divine being, using only finger nails. If we could believe in UFOs, I think this is also not a hoax as the design could be so intricate and delicate that I swore I could feel the eyes of the elephant face following me everywhere I go.
Inside the cave, there is a T shaped lorong – where there are hollow spaces enough to fit a person, usually used for meditation. At the end of both junctions, there are shrines for Lord Ganesh and the three lingas.
Overlooking the cave, there is a bathing area, which is now defunct. There are 6 voluptuous female figures pouring water out of a jar. Colorful fishes could be seen swimming in the ponds.
Puri Luhur Uluwatu
Built in the 11th Century, also by the same legendary Hindu priest, Danghnyang Nirartha and this was his last before he passed on.
The sight of the cascading limestone was maginificent to behold. Soothing cool breeze from the Indian Ocean caressed your face while you admire the beauty of clear turquoise sea water beating against the whiteness of the limestone cliffs.
Be careful of the “guardian” of this temple though! Wild monkeys are everywhere. You are advised to take off your spectacles, ear rings, necklaces, hats etc. Hold on tight to your cameras and bags.
This is our definite favorite temple, so far.
There are other temples which we haven’t covered, but basically, they are almost the same – with Hindu inclined designs and multi roofed merus and canti bentar.
This is the last post on Bali. I hope you guys did not get woozy after reading the marathon blogs on Bali! Take your time to read through or just feast your eyes on the pictures while I take a break from blogging for awhile.
I love Bali! I hope you guys would love it too!
Source of info: Wayan Mudra & a little bit of help from Insight Pocket Guide: Bali (Discovery Channel)
All pictures of Bali here are taken using Canon Ixus50.