Top 10 Temples in Bali

Elizabeth Gilbert made Bali famous in her memoir Eat, Pray, Love where she found her love. But its not difficult to fall in love with this beautiful island. Bali is predominantly Hindu and has over 2000 temples. Its also known as the island of a thousand Puras. No visit to Bali is complete without visiting at least one of them. Their unique architecture makes them worth visiting. So here is a list of the top 10 Temples in Bali.

 

 

Top 10 Temples in Bali


Bali is the Island of Gods so religion is major part of Balinese culture. There are many temples in Bali each one is worth visiting for its exquisite architecture. I have listed the major ones here but feel free to list more in the comments section below.

Bali Temples Dress Code


It is mandatory to dress decently when visiting the temples. A sarong is usually available at the ticket counter or at temple entrance for visitors to use which needs to be returned back while exiting. So to enter the temples, you don’t need to buy the sarong from the pestering local shops outside the temples, unless you actually want to keep them.

 

1. Pura Tanah Lot


This iconic temple is on a rock just near the shore of the Indian ocean. It gets surrounded by the sea during high tide. Sunset at Tanah Lot is one of the main tourist attractions in Bali and is mainly known for the picturesque view of this monument with the backdrop of the setting sun. It’s around 30-40 minutes drive from Seminyak.

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Pura Tanah Lot

 

2. Pura Luhur Uluwatu


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At Uluwatu Temple

Ulu means head and Watu is rock. This temple is on a cliff top open to the vast expanse of the ocean. The temple lies 70 meters above the roaring sea which is famous among the surfers. Its takes 1.5 hours to reach this place from Seminyak but the sunset view is worth the time taken. Many monkeys who inhabit this place are believed to guard the temple. Visitors are not allowed inside the main temple but the courtyard is free to roam around.

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Sunset at Pura Luhur Uluwatu

 

3. Goa Gajah


Goa Gajah or Elephant Cave Temple is an ancient temple but do not get fooled by the name. There are no elephants here but the temple is dedicated to elephant headed Hindu God Ganesha. This temple dates back to the 11th century. It consists of a cave whose doorway is the open mouth of a menacing giant. a Buddhist temple is also present in the same premise. There is a pool also with beautiful stone carvings on the spouts.

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The Cave Entrance at Goa Gajah

 

4. Tirta Empul


This holy water temple has great importance in the Balinese culture. There is a holy water spring which is then distributed to many outlets in a pool where people can bathe in for the purification process. After the purification process the devotees have to pray to Lord Indra in the inner courtyard. This temple complex overlooks a contemporary mansion which houses the president itself.

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The Holy Bath area at Tirta Empul

5. Pura Basakih


Pura Basakih is Bali’s Mother Temple and is the most important one. It’s on the slopes of  the active volcano Mount Agung  and is also hit but the volcano many times. The temple premise comprises of 80 small temples. It’s at a height of 1000 meters and is surrounded by lush greenery and beautiful landscapes.

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The Open Gateway Style Architecture is common to all traditional Buildings in Bali

Pro Tip: This temple has many ancient legends attached to it so its advisable to hire a local guide to explain them.

6. Gunung Kawi Temple


This stone cut out temple belongs to the 11th century and is said to be the oldest temple, but is still used for daily rituals. Apart from carvings of deities Gunung Kawi is also said to have  the remains of its ancient king and his wives. To reach the temple one needs to descend 370 steps overlooking lush green landscapes. It is pretty easy to climb down the stairs to reach the temple but climbing back up takes an effort especially in the sweltering heat. This temple might be ancient but the stone carvings still look majestic. This temple is 20 km from Ubud village.

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The Ancient Stone Carvings

Pro Tip: This temple is just 2 km from Tirta Empul so you can club both.

 

7. Pura Luhur Lempuyang


This temple  is one of the most difficult temples to get to. It’s on the slopes of Mount Lempuyang and consists of 1700 steps to reach the top. The ascend requires a fair amount of physical strength and is a mix of religion and adventure. The view from the top is worth the climb had shows a side of Bali in complete contrast to the south.

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Pura Luhur Lempuyang

Pro Tip: In case you are not willing to trek to the top there is Pura Penataran Agung temple at the foot of the mountain with intricately carved dragons sculptures.

8. Pura Taman Ayun


This temple stands out because of its unique traditional architecture. The temple consists of towering tiers as a tribute to their ancestors. The temple compound has 4 sections one considered higher than the other, with a small garden and a beautiful fountain.

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Taman Ayun

Pro Tip: This temple can be visited on the way to Tanah Lot temple as its midway from Ubud Village.

 

8. Ulun Danu Batur


This Water temple is dedicated to the Goddess of lakes and rivers. Water is considered sacred by Balinese so this temple is built to worship water. This temple ground has 9 smaller temples with around 300 tributes to other god and goddesses of Balinese culture. This temple is located in Batur Village at the foothills of Mount Batur.

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Pura Ulun Danu

9. Pura Goa Lawah


Goa Lawah or the Bali Bat Temple, is built around a cave opening that houses a colony of bats, hence the name. This temple is located in east Bali. It was built in the 11th century as a center of meditation for priests. It is said that this temple is connected to Pura Besakih via a cave passage of 20 miles.

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Goa Lawah

10. Pura Besakih


Finally comes Pura Besakih on this list. This is the holiest temple in Bali and is also known as the “Mother Temple”. This temple lies on the slopes of Gunung Agung in east Bali. Mount Agung is the tallest and holiest mountain in Bali and is also an active volcano. In-fact this temple was saved by just a few yards, when the volcano erupted in 1963. Located at an altitude of 1000 meters, this temple complex consists of 23 separate but smaller temples, built on 6 levels. All this aligns to a single axis.

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Pura Besakih

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Hope you find this blog of use to you. Do let us know which place interests you or if I am missing something, please contact us or comment below and I will update this blog soon. Your comments and/or feedback are most welcome.


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About Pooja Samtani

Hi! I am Pooja. My life is an amalgamation of mundane and that of a digital nomad. The travel bug actually hit me after I completed my education and started earning. It was then I actually started experiencing places than just visiting them. Thus started a zeal to explore to satisfy my wanderlust. After marriage things just worked out better for me thanks to my equally zealous Hubby. Accompanied by our daughter who is ever ready to get out of home, we often set sails on many interesting (and sometimes crazy) family adventures with dreams to travel not to escape life but for life not to escape us. Mail me at poojasamtani@laidbacktraveller.com

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