Bali may be best known for its beaches, rolling surf and sophisticated shopping and nightlife scene, but the Island of the Gods has also retained many of its Hindu traditions. Culture seeker, Juliet Bernard, takes a walk on the spiritual side.
If like me, you try to explore the history and culture of a destination when you travel there, as well as enjoying the natural attractions, local cuisine and of course, the shopping, Bali should definitely by high on you holiday wish list.
Despite being one of the top vacation spots in Asia, Bali
remains a deeply spiritual island and the largely Hindu population still observes sacred rituals and festivals, with great emphasis placed on regular prayer and the giving offerings to the gods at the temples scattered throughout island's towns and villages.
Balinese temples are known as Pura
, and are generally designed as an open air places of worship enclosed by high walls, with intricate representations of the various gods carved in stone above the gates. The peaceful grounds feature a series of open courtyards with a number of bales (pavilions) used for different purposes during festivals and regular dance and drama performances, with various shrines within the buildings dedicated to important deities.
Some of the most spectacular and important temples on Bali are located right next to the ocean. Several of theses temples were built as long ago as the 16th century, inspired by a Majapahit monk from Java named Nirartha who is known to have introduced HInduism to the island. Local people say that each of the sea temples can be seen from the next, forming a chain around the coast of Bali.
Below are five of the most intriguing sea temples on Bali.
Pura Tanah Lot
is perhaps Bali's most famous temple, and a hugely popular tourist attraction thanks to its ancient, mystical design, ocean battered appearance and the superb opportunities it affords photographers. Legend has it that Nirartha found the rock that still forms the foundations of the temple and advised the local fishermen to build a shrine at the site to worship the island's sea gods. A giant snake is also said to guard the temple, which grew from the priest's scarf when he named it as a holy site.
Pura Rambut Siwi
is where Niratha is said to have destroyed the temple originally built on its site through prayer, because had been constructed to worship different gods. This frightening the local ruler into rebuilding it in honour of the priest and also to follow the Hindu teachings. As a blessing, Niratha left some of his hair at the site, from which the temple gets its name.
Pura Luhur Uluwatu
is one of Bali's most spectacular temples, perched on a steep cliffside which drops 75 metres to the crashing waves of the Indian Ocean. The unique temple structure is built from black coral and believed to guard the Balinese from evil spirits, in particular Bhatara Rudra, the God of the elements.
Pura Gede Perancak
is another important sea temple located in the coastal village Perancak. This temple is believed to be where Nirartha first set foot on Bali in 1546. The priest purportedly found the village population living a life of vice and depravity, and through his teachings saved them from themselves. They then built the temple in his honour and still hold annual dances and bull runs at the site, which is also famous for its stone crocodile statues.
is an island temple and an important pilgrimage site during the annual Kuningan celebrations, when the ancestral spirits of Balinese people are said to return to the heavens after visiting the earth during Galungan. When the tides don't allow for boats to cross to the island, devotees wade across the mud flats to make their offerings, a scene often depicted in Balinese works of art.
by LVH Marketing