Bali Things to do
Here is the post named “Bali Things to do”, dedicated to its beautiful temples that I loved visiting.
Even though the island is part of the (mostly Muslim) country of Indonesia, it has a strong Hindu tradition, and therefore the temples in Bali are extremely important. More than 85 percent of the 4,2 million island inhabitants practice Balinese Hinduism. Hence there are so many Hindu temples – about 10,000, dedicated to different deities from the land and the sea. Bali is actually nicknamed the Island of Gods!
To the Balinese, every living thing – from a weed to a human being – has a spirit, and therefore there is an array of spirits all around you. They believe that there are both good and evil spirits and that this eternal duality exists in balance. The balance is reflected at the point where the lines meet in the ancient religious symbol of the swastika. I was fascinated by the whole philosophy of the tradition.
Bali Things to do
Each year people hold countless ceremonies to please good spirits and appease the evil ones. It wouldn’t be hard to stumble upon a ceremony while going around the island’s temples. And this is a magnificent sight to witness, believe me.
Anyway, when I read about this Balinese tradition, I was actually convinced that the island is undeservedly referred to as just a place with perfect beaches. Have a peek into the previous post about the 1,000-years-old Mother Temple and keep reading through this one. Here are the temples, besides the Besakih, not to be missed when you travel to Bali, an obligatory stop in your “Bali Things to do” itinerary. You will be stunned by the whole scenery!
Tanah Lot Temple
This is probably one of the most visited temples on the island. Anyone who was looking for Bali photos online has certainly stumbled across the Tanah Lot. And let me tell you, it deserves the reputation. It doesn’t matter if it’s crowded or not, just try not to miss it!
Located about 20 kilometers northwest of Kuta, this is one of Bali’s most important landmarks (and one of the most significant Bali things to do). The temple is situated on top of a huge rock that is constantly washed by crashing waves. You can only visit during the low tide.
When approaching the coastal area, you will go by numerous small shrines, but nothing can prepare you for the scenery you are going to encounter when you come out to the bay. The temple lies on the left, but the low tide also reveals a huge rock that curves on the right, forming something that seems like a naturally crafted bridge, a crossing with a hole in it. It goes to the Batu Bolong temple. (They say that Batu means “the rock” and Bolong “the hole”.)
The story behind the temple is as mesmerizing as the structure itself, just listen.
A high priest from the Majapahit Kingdom in East Java who traveled to Bali in 1489 to spread Hinduism, came here. He has opened a site to honor the sea god Baruna. Since he was opposed by the neighboring village chief trying to dispel him, the priest shifted a large rock he meditated upon out to sea and transformed his sashes into snakes to guard at its base. The name Tengah Lod, the temple was originally called, means “in the sea”. That is when people acknowledged the priest’s power.
At low tide, it’s possible to cross to the rock which is believed to be the source of holy water. There was a line in front of the cave embedded into the rock. I didn’t know whether to stand there or not, but I was encouraged to wait a minute or two since there was a priest at the fountain who was giving blessings to visitors.
I was so pleased afterward that I waited a bit and was sprinkled with the holy water. I have even tried it, it was really fresh. Also, being blessed meant that I got a rice spot on my forehead, similar to the Indian bindi forehead mark. The whole experience gives you goosebumps, you just feel that something special is going on here.
Ulun Danu Beratan Temple
When you take the tour through the central part of the island, make sure to stop by the Beratan Lake in Bedugul. Why? Well, remember those photos of the small temple in the middle of a vast water area? This is Ulun Danu Beratan, located in the lake. Being in the upland, it’s not that hot here, so locals love to come during weekends to cool down.
After you go among religious structures and shrines and you finally come out to the lake’s shore, you will be amazed by the site. The temple really seems like floating on the surface of the lake! Add the high mountain peaks of the Bedugul region to the scenery and you will get one breathtaking landscape. A must-see on the “Bali Things to do” list.
The temple was built in the 17th century and it is dedicated to the Hindu trinity, Brahma-Vishnu-Shiva, as well as the lake goddess Dewi Danu. The floating temple is comprised of four groups of shrines and there are four gates facing them. When coming into the complex, you will immediately notice typical Balinese architecture. All those shrines are built among such lavish greenery. I was astonished by the nature, flowers I have never seen before. I should mention that there is also the Botanic Garden that flora admirers shouldn’t miss – another “BALI Things to do” item.
As for me, I was walking around in awe. We even stumbled upon a wedding. This sure was beautiful scenery to have a photoshoot in.
Other than the Besakih Temple and these two I have covered here, there is another temple extremely popular that should be on your “Bali Things to do” list. It lies on top of a steep cliff in South Kuta. Why didn’t I mention it in this post?
Because I went there to see the traditional Balinese dance!
Next: TRADITIONAL DANCE (5)
The full Bali SERIES
Is it safe to travel to Indonesia these days? I don’t know how old your article is.
Btw, do you have anything on Phnom Penh?
Hey! Well, if you have Bali volcano in mind, no worries, it is safe. There’s always a risk of course, but nothing happened in months, it’s still quite.
Even more so, having in mind that Bali is celebrating the Day of Silence today, hehehe. 🙂
Don’t have Phnom Penh yet. I’ll let you know when I do. 😉 Thanks, cheers!
Ooh, I love the idea of a temple on the rock, plus the way the sea has shaped the rocks make it look all that more mystical. I’m an atheist, but I’ve always had a constant interest in Hinduism and the amazing stories, while the temples always look so impressive
Oh, I know, I’m always fascinated by different traditions, especially those that seem remote to us coming from Europe. Love to learn about them, it makes one humble when realizing how rich the cultures are. <3
Don't you just love traveling! 😀
Just like you, I find the Balinese culture and traditions fascinating. And just like you I think there’s so much more other than the beaches! I’m so glad someone is finally shedding some light on their culture, thank you!
Thanks, Danila, it means a lot, it’s such a compliment! 🙂
I didn’t even bother to write solely about beaches, to tell you the truth, since there’s so much material to be found regarding the topic. And I’m glad you agree, Bali is so much more.
Thank you! 🙂
I have visited a few Hindu Temples of Bali like Taman Ayun, Tirtha Empul, and Goa Gajah. I missed visiting this one. I so want to go back and explore the living Hindu traditions of Bali as a practicing Hindu. The temples have such a unique architecture and very primitive rituals which we no longer follow in India like you say spirit worship.
I can only imagine how interesting it must be for you to see a different, Balinese side of the religion. 🙂 I’m still learning and I’m already fascinated by those diversities.
Thanks, Anuradha, hopefully, we’ll both go again soon! 🙂
Marcus and Mel
Very interesting information and some beautiful scenery and architecture, Indonesia is an area which we know very little about so it was good to find out more. The wedding photograph, is it the angle or is he marrying someone very tall?
Heheheh, no, the bride is standing on a chair or something similar. 😀 😀
I actually didn’t realize that there were so many Hindu temples in Bali, so thanks for this overview. Tanah Lot Temple definitely looks like the most fascinating, I can see why it’s the most popular on the island. The scenery looks incredible, and just the idea of walking inside rock caves while the tide is splashing outside sounds exciting. Ulun Danu Beratan Temple too is just beautiful – these are really stunning structures, in beautiful surrounds. I would love to visit, and I can definitely understand the appeal in having wedding photos shot here 🙂
Thanks Meg, so glad you like it. Believe me, it all looks even more surreal in person, just mesmerizing!
Well, who knows, if you’re not married yet, this might give you an idea or two! Not a bad place to consider, right! 😉 <3
Linda de Beer
You are right, one often does associate Bali only with the beaches. I never knew about the strong Hindu influence on the island. Tanah Lot certainly looks impressive on the rock surrounded by waves. I can understand why it’s such a spiritual place for the Islanders.
Especially given the story behind the temple, right! 🙂 Thanks, Linda!
Cathy Salvador Mendoza
When I go back to Bali I’ll make sure to visit the Tanah Lot Temple, I believe yes it’s one of the most famous and most visited temples in Bali. Isn’t it amazing? I’ve been to Bali once but only explored Kuta, Legian and Seminyak. People in Bali are nice and so the temples are, and majestic. Love not only the islands also the endless numbers of hidden temples.
Oh yes, I was also amazed by the Balinese people. So kind and always smiling. 🙂
I always thought Bali is a lot of beaches. I didn’t know it has these historical temples, too! :Lots to see then!
The thing is that people either don’t have the time to go around the island, or just don’t care because they came for the beaches. Such a pity in this case!
I have visited 2 of these and you are so right about them having ceremonies through out the year. Did you notice how they keep offerings in front of shops?
Yes, those small offerings were everywhere! I often thought that I should be careful not to step on one. Especially when going out to the beach! 😀
But I did like the whole symbolism regarding the ingredients. It was all so interesting to learn. 🙂
I have seen a lot of amazing photos and videos, read many stories and have heard a lot of good things about Bali. I didn’t know Bali is nicknamed The Island of Gods. It is interesting. I would love to give it a visit.
I’m sure you’d love it! 🙂
I wouldlive love to go to Bali someday. These temples would be great to see.
It would be a pity to skip them if going to Bali, that’s for sure. They are the cultural heritage of the Balinese people, but also such tranquil places.
Thank you, Andrew, so glad you stopped by. 🙂
I had so much difficulty getting pics of the temple during my visit because of the huge crowd. next time I will try to plan ahead of the perfect time to visit,maybe early morning.
I know what you mean, Bali became so crowded during the last few years, it’s crazy! Deservedly of course, with so many things to see, but still – too many people. Sadly it seems that massive tourism has pretty bad effects on the environment here as well.