Bali is home to more than a thousand Puras, Balinese temples, dedicated to the worship of various Hindu deities (gods and goddesses). Puras are the best example of Balinese architecture and consist of enclosed walls and an open air place of worship. The walls are composed of multiple shrines, towers , pavilions and gates.
The most recognizable element of Balinese architecture is the gate with the two variations :
- split gate
- roofed tower gate
The function of the pura, the location and the surrounding landscape have a big influence of the overall scenery so we tried to cover the most important and representative sites. In this article you will find pictures for the most recognisable places in Bali, Indonesia.
Local rules demand visitors to wear a sarong or a scarf tied at your waist. You should bring your own or you can buy an overpriced piece from the sellers outside the temples.DIVETIP
Best temples to visit in Bali:
Ulun Danu Bratan Temple
Lake Bratan is home to a beautiful temple complex dedicated to Goddess Danu that is known for the 11 tiers meru tower located on a small island. This view is iconic for Bali and should be considered a must-visit place.
The current temple was rebuild in 1633 with a mixture of Hindu and Buddhist architectural and is in very good conditions. The site is located on “the holy mountain” that is characterized by cool weather so bring some extra clothes and an umbrella.
The whole complex of the water temple is great with buildings in excellent condition and amazing nature. You can walk around and discover various elements or spend some time on a wooden bench and admire the view.
When we visited the temple, the water surrounding the main meru was a little murky, the sky was cloudy and a lot of people in the area. It is not easy to take the perfect shot like but still, we enjoyed our time spent at Ulun Danu.
Tanah Lot Temple
This sea temple is the most iconic in Bali Island. It sits on small rock formation surrounded and shaped by the ocean waves. Tanah Lot is located in South Bali, Tabanan approximately 300 meters offshore. To get near the temple you have to walk 15-20 minutes on a pathway surrounded by souvenir shops and street sellers.
Dang Hyang Nirartha is recognised as the founder of this temple in the 16th-century to praise the sea God. In Balinese mythology he moved the rock island into the sea, build the temple and created a giant poisonous snake that lives at the base of the island and guards the pura.
The best time to visit Tanah Lot is at sunset for beautiful background and amazing colours. A good spot for spectacular view is in the south side of the temple. During our visit we were lucky to have nice weather and a superb sunset. Remember that in search for the best shot or the best view you have to run away from the waves on slippery rocks, otherwise you might end up wet.
Penataran Lempuyang Temple
Mount Lempuyang hosts many puras and are one of the oldest and the most revered in Bali. Pura Penataran Agung Lempuyang is located in Karangasem, in the slope of the mountain and is popular and famous among tourists for the scenic split gate.
From Lempuyang temple you can witness a wonderful view of the Mount Agung behind the split gate. This is commonly known as the Gates of Heaven and is a great photo opportunity. During our visit it was a 1 hour waiting lane as we arrived early. By the time we left the temple the waiting time increased to at least 1.5 – 2 hours. There are some locals ready to help you with a photo and they also add a piece o glass under your phone camera to get a “lake effect”.
Once you arrive to the parking lot you will have 2 more kilometers to the temple. It is possible to walk but considering the heat and the ascent it might be difficult. We opted for the 10 minute transfer with a local vehicle.
The main temple is a three stairway and is included in the six holiest places of worship in Bali. The middle stairway is sacred and tourists are not allowed to climb.
Goa Lawah Temple
Another temple included in the six holiest places of worship in Bali is Pura Goa Lawah from Klungkung. The temple is famous for being build around a cave inhabited by bats.
When we visited the temple the inhabitants of the cave were very easy to notice. You can hear and smell them from distance and they can be seen easily.
Tirta Gangga Water Palace
Not a temple but a former royal palace Tirta Gangga it is included in this list as the water is considered holy and is used for religious ceremonies.
The scenery of Tirta Gangga Water Palace is beautiful with lots of fountains, ponds and gardens. When we visited the palace it was a warm day but inside the complex the climate was cool and refreshing.
One of the highlights of the water palace is the main pond populated with Koi Fish. There are thousands of them and you can buy fish food to feed them. They are accustomed with tourists and very friendly when they have food.
Other popular Hindu temples in Bali :
- Uluwatu Temple
- Besakih Temple
- Tirta Empul Temple
All the temples recommended in this article can be reached in day trips from all the popular areas in Bali like Ubud or South Bali.
This list includes our preferred activities and can be considered Bali Highlights:
- Ulun Danu Beratan Temple
- Jatiluwih Rice Terrace
- Sunset at Tanah Lot
- Tirta Gangga
- Lempuyang Temple
- Goa Lawah Temple
I would recommend Joe from Bali Travel Expert as an excellent guide for very good english, comfortable car and punctuality.