“The only things that match the intensity of Bali’s world-famous natural wonders are its cultural and spiritual charm. Many spots on the Indonesian island have all three, but these spiritual identities are often overlooked and outshone by the gorgeous views,” says Mridul Sharma, a 25-year-old student from New Delhi tells India Outbound.
Centuries-old temples at the base of lush hillsides and scenic presence of a magnificent waterfall in the remote hills of cultural importance are one of the most ‘must-experience’ on the long list of things to do in Bali. “Spiritual destinations in Bali, as most of them, lie in the lap of nature, help one reconnect with nature and discover some of the island’s holistic vibes,” Sharma adds.
The island of Bali has also emerged as the second favourite destination among tourists after Maldives and Dubai, according to a travel poll conducted in September. While you are in Bali and want to steal some moments of peace and tranquillity, the island offers plenty of choices. The following are some of the most gorgeous temple tours on the island that should definitely feature in your itinerary on your next trip to Bali.
Gunung Kawi Sebatu temple
Gunung Kawi Sebatu is a lush and scenic temple complex situated about 12 km north of Ubud. Located on a forested hillside in Sebatu, one can find mountain spring-fed holy water sources, water shrines surrounded by giant carps and blooming lotuses, ornamental fish ponds with statues and bathing spots surrounding its magnificent main temple complex.
The tranquil setting of Gunung Kawi Sebatu provides a soothing retreat, far away from the streets and bustles of Ubud town. Not far from here is the Pura Dalem Pingit temple, revered among local Balinese Hindus as a purification spot. Across the river from the ancient reliefs, there’s a temple courtyard with an old Hindu shrine. Gunung Kawi Temple also is famous as one of Bali’s most unique archaeological sites, where one can see gigantic ancient stone shrine reliefs carved right into a cliff face.
Ulun Danu Batur temple
The temple is a popular picturesque landmark on the island as well as an important temple complex situated near Beratan Lake in central Bali. Set in Bedugul, the locality is a preferred holiday retreat and a popular weekend getaway, attracting locals and visitors from urban and southern areas. A royal water temple, its prime location makes it a must-visit site for the tourists. The site is ideal for watching the sunset, which is truly spellbinding.
The exquisite compound with nine temples and 285 shrines is a popular tourist destination with due awe-inspiring tall temple architecture and picturesque mountains and a lake in the backdrop. The picture-perfect temple holds a significant spiritual value for locals, who depend on the water goddess to bless their fields, as well as for the tourists.
Perched on the forested slopes of the sacred Mount Agung is the great Besakih Temple, a supremely holy place. The compound comprises 23 shrines scattered over a vast area, making Besakih the biggest temple in Bali. Out of the 23 shrines in the temple complex, Pura Penataran Agung, the most significant one, is dedicated to Lord Shiva.
It is said that the temple was first built by a Hindu devotee from India and it has since become the centre of religious activities for the whole island. This temple is open to the public, but some parts are strictly reserved for religious activities.
Lempuyang Luhur temple
One of the oldest temples in Bali, Lempuyang Luhur sits on the peak of Mount Lempuyang in East Bali. “It’s definitely not easy to climb up the 1,700 steps to the temple, but locals believe that those who complain, never make it to the top,” says Sharma.
Legend has it that this temple was built by Lord Pashupati and his children to help stabilise the island’s nature when the earth was only 70 years old. The temple is especially crowded during Hindu festivals and during the full moon, when devotees embark on a pilgrimage to seek blessings and bathe in the holy waters.
Taman Saraswati temple
Ubud’s Taman Saraswati temple is dedicated to Saraswati, the Hindu goddess of art, music, and wisdom. It is undoubtedly a lovely spot for both visitors and worshippers. There are beautiful lotus ponds and water gardens that accentuate the charm of the site.
Known for its ornate carvings, tourists love the magical Balinese dance performances in this temple. The dance performances here are held on Tuesdays and Thursdays.
Taman Ayun temple
Approximately 8 km from Tabanan, Taman Ayun temple is located on the outskirts of Mengwi, a small town in Bali. Taman Ayun literally translates to ‘a beautiful garden’. Believed to have been built in the year 1634 by the king of Mengwi, it consists of beautiful courtyards and gardens all around it.
The temple has been declared as a World Heritage Site by UNESCO and it constitutes some 50 edifices including tiered shrines, a park, a moat, gardens, streams and a river.