A Spiritual Bali Trip

Bali, Indonesia has long been many Australian’s celebration destination, from schoolies to the annual family holiday. Although not forgotten, Bali’s many breathtaking temples and sacred sites are often undermined by the bright lights and cheery noises. With a history dating back to 2000 BC and a Balinese Hinduism majority population, Bali is home to many culturally distinctive temples. Why not take on that new year’s resolution to ‘find a new you’ this year by taking an adventurous and inspiring trip to Bali.

Spiritual Bali Trip

Spiritual Bali Trip: Tirta Empul Temple Sacred Spring Indonesia
Tirta Empul Temple Sacred Spring: Photo on Flickr by Jelle Oostrom / CC BY-SA 2.0

Tanah Lot

The awe-inspiring temple sits on an offshore rock in Tabanan, about 20 kilometres from Denpassar. The temple honours the sea god Baruna and is claimed to originate from the 16th Century Dang Hyang Nirartha, a Saivite religious figure. The legend goes that the high priest shifted the incredibly large rock he meditated upon while transforming his sashes into sea snakes to guard the base of the rock when the village chief opposed to his teachings to the villagers.

Spiritual Bali Trip: Uluwatu Temple Fire Dance, Indonesia
Uluwatu Temple Fire Dance, Bali: Photo on Flickr by Vin Crosbie / CC BY-ND 2.0

The temple proves not only to be a postcard worthy sunset attraction, it’s also a famous pilgrimage site for many Balinese Hindus. Visit during the temple anniversaries to witness the festivities. Join a day tour to the temple and experience the sunset Kecak fire dance performances and dinner at an authentic restaurant to end the tour. The temple cannot be reached during high tides so remember to do your research beforehand to visit during the appropriate hours.

Spiritual Bali Trip: Tanah Lot Temple, Indonesia
Tanah Lot Temple, Bali: Photo on Flickr by Megan Coughlin / CC BY-ND 2.0

Uluwatu Temple

Also known as Pura Luhur Uluwatu, the Uluwatu temple is one of the six key temples believed to be Bali’s spiritual pillars. Overlooking the Indian Ocean, the temple sits majestically on top of a steep cliff, approximately 70 metres above sea level. The temple is believed to be guarded by the hundreds of monkeys that live in the small forest in front of the temple.

Spiritual Bali Trip: Monkey Dance at Uluwatu Temple, Indonesia
Monkey Dance at Uluwatu Temple, Bali: Photo on Flickr by Jos van der Hoek / CC BY 2.0

Believed to be the location that combines the three divine powers of Brahma, Vishnu, and Shiva, the temple worships Siva Rudra, the deity of all elements of life in the universe in Balinese Hinduism.

Spiritual Bali Trip: Monkeys at Uluwatu Temple at Sunset, Indonesia
Monkeys at Uluwatu Temple at Sunset: Photo on Flickr by William Cho / CC BY-SA 2.0

Marked with ancient inscriptions, religious statues, and culturally heavy architecture, the Uluwatu temple is a must see before and during sunset hours. Be sure to visit the temple’s anniversary celebrations during the Balinese 210 Pawukon cycle to experience the culture to its fullest potential.

Spiritual Bali Trip: Sunset at Uluwatu Temple, Indonesia
Sunset at Uluwatu Temple: Photo on Flickr by BOMBMAN / CC BY 2.0

Goa Gajah (Elephant Cave)

West edge of Bedulu Village and 6 kilometres out of Central Ubud, lies Goa Gajah, the Elephant Cave of Bali. Filled with rock-wall carvings, a meditational cave, bathing pools and fountains, the temple is a must see historical site for travellers. Dating back to the 11th Century, the spiritual place is scattered with relics that reveal Buddhism and Hindu influences. Small streams that lead to the Petanu River and rice fields can be found at the southern end of the site.

Spiritual Bali Trip: Pura Goa Gajah, Gianyar, Indonesia
Pura Goa Gajah, Gianyar: Photo on Flickr by g2acy / CC BY-ND 2.0

The temple is open 8am to 4pm every day, with celebrations of its temple anniversary on a Tuesday on the Balinese 210 day Pawukon calendar.

Spiritual Bali Trip: Goa Gajah Fountains, Indonesia
Goa Gajah Fountains: Photo on Flickr by @yb_woodstock / CC BY-SA 2.0

Gunung Kawi Sebatu Temple

Bali’s most beautiful yet less visited temple, Pura Tirta Dawa Gunung Kawi Sebatu, also known as Gunung Kawi Sebatu Temple, is located approximately 12 kilometres northwest of Ubud within the highland village of Sebatu. The location is filled with beautiful greenery around carp filled pools with blooming lotuses. Natural springs feed the amazingly clear waters of the pools surrounding the ancient shrines. Along with the water features, large pond and dense green hillside, the location is picture perfect and relaxing.

Spiritual Bali Trip: Gunung Kawi Temple, Bali
Gunung Kawi Temple

Gunung Kawi Sebatu celebrates its temple anniversary every first full moon of the Balinese calendar. The festival livens up the temple with colour and celebration so be sure to visit then.

Spiritual Bali Trip: Pura Tirta Empul Temple, Indonesia
Pura Tirta Empul Temple: Photo by Saranabhi / CC BY-SA 3.0

Lempuyang Temple

Also known as Pura Lempuyang Luhur, the Lempuyang Temple is one of the oldest and most highly regarded temples in Bali. On the peak of Mount Lempuyang, East Bali, the quiet and peaceful temple sits 1175 metres above sea level. The 2 hour hike to the temple is definitely worthwhile when overlooking the mountains and refreshing greenery of the island. The temple itself is intertwined with ancient carvings and statues of dragons, giving it a calm and mystical aura.

Spiritual Bali Trip: Pura Lempuyang Luhur Temple, Indonesia
Pura Lempuyang Luhur Temple: Photo by yeowatzup / CC BY 2.0

Take a hike and take in the fresh mountain air as you ascend to the grand mountain, or alternatively, admire the impressive sight at the foot of the mountain.

Spiritual Bali Trip: Pura Lempuyang Luhur Temple, Indonesia
Pura Lempuyang Luhur Temple: Photo by yeowatzup / CC BY 2.0

Pura Ulun Danu Bratan

Sitting on Lake Bratan, the Ulun Danu Temple, or Pura Ulun Danu Bratan, is used for offering ceremonies to Dewi Danu, the Balinese water, lake and river goddess. The temple is surrounded by calm mountain water, sitting approximately 1500 metres above sea level amongst thin crisp mist.

Spiritual Bali Trip: Pura Ulun Danu Bratan, Bedugu, Indonesia
Pura Ulun Danu Bratan, Bedugu: Photo on Flickr by yeowatzup / CC BY 2.0

The stone structures of the temple dates back to around 500 BC, with records from as early as 1556. Rebuilt in 1633, the temple now has a mixture of Hindu and Buddhist architectural styles, making it yet another historically significant heritage temple of Bali.

Spiritual Bali Trip: Pura Ulun Danu Bratan Temple, Bedugul, Indonesia
Pura Ulun Danu Bratan Temple, Bedugul: Photo on Flickr by yeowatzup / CC BY 2.0

Just a reminder that all temples in Bali have appropriate clothing for the spiritual visit, most it not all of the sites provide a customary sash that you can borrow at a ticket booth or stall before entering the temple. Embark on a scenic and meaningful experience and set off for Bali.

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