Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Bali's Temples

In every village in Bali, there are several temples and at least one small one in each home. One can therefore safely say that there are more temples than homes in Bali. Most of these temples are shrines and might not be regarded as actual temples, but the number of walled compounds are believed to reach to a total of 10,000. The word for temple in Bali is pura, which in Sanskrit means 'space surrounded by a wall'. Simple shrines or thrones are found everywhere and at all sorts of unusual places.

Although many temples are quiet and uninhabited, they are transformed into colorful, active and ornately decorated places of worship when there is a festival. Offerings would be made, while performances of traditional dances and gamelan, cockfighting and gambling liven up the atmosphere.

All temples derive their orientation from the mountains and the sea. Kaja, which is the direction toward the mountains, is the most significant direction. The direction toward the sea is kelod. Sunrise, or kangin.

Bali is known as the Island of the Gods.  There are thousands of temples in Bali but none are precisely alike. The Balinese temples (pura) are an exposed areas encircled by walls. This is
because the Balinese Gods do not abide permanently in the temples but are invited from their abode above Gunung Agung,Bali's largest volcano, and need a open air a temple unroofed at the top so they can descend and settle in their shrines during festive occasions. Temple Types There are three basic types of temple in every village.

The Pura Dalem would have representations of Durga, the dark and terrible side of Shiva's wife, Parvati. Both Shiva and Parvati have a creative and destructive side, and it is their powers of destruction that are honored in the Pura Dalem. It is here where the souls of the dead in their first stage after death are purified as not to bring harm to the village..

Since rice is such an important produce in Bali, there are temples dedicated to the spirits of irrigated agriculture. These temples are called Pura Puseh (temple of origin) remains the most prominent and is reserved for founders of villages. It is always situated at the kaja(towards the mountains) end of the village. In the middle of the village is the Pura Desa, which is for the spirits that protect and bless the villagers in their daily lives.

The (Pura Bale Agung) is sometimes attached to the Pura Desa or is in the center of the village. These are meeting places to share ritual meals on auspicious days with each other and defied ancestors because they are founders of the social order At the kelod(towards the sea) end of the village is the Pura Dalem or temple of the dead. It is here where the souls of the dead in their first stage after death are purified as not to bring harm to the village.. Pura Subak or Pura Ulun Suwi. There are also agricultural temples, which are usually small shrines in the rice fields. It is here where the Balinese can thank the gods, especially Dewi Sri, from whom they receive blessings and fertility for their work.

Balinese temples are generally separated into two or three sectors: a front court yard, which contains the bale.  While attending ceremonies remember these are religious occasions. Pura Tamen Ayun in Mengwi and the largest and most holy temple in Bali Pura Besakih. Rather than belonging to homes or villages these state temples belong to districts or in the case of Pura Beskih all of Bali. Kulkul or slit drum tower. This drum summons the villagers to work or to announce the presence of the arrival of the gods. There is usually a balepawaregan or kitchen where women cook the rice and rice cakes necessary for communal offerings and the shed like building is the bale paebatan, where the men prepare the meat for offerings. In the central courtyard is the bale agung or meeting hall and pavilion for the gamelan orchestra.

Most of the dances are performed in this central courtyard. The innermost temple is intended for the actual reception of the gods. Shrines and altars are usually arranged in a row. It is here where the offerings are placed and the gods can receive their essence. The bale pawedaan is a pavilion where the Brahman priest conducts rites to produce holy water. Always where a sarong and sash. Do not walk infront of people praying nor sit or stand higher than the priest. Avoid using flash cameras and obey the directions of the attendants. Women are not allowed to enter the temples when menstruating.


  1. Bali is exotic, view of wonderful. To see all Indonesia you can see http://www.gotravelindonesia.com/

  2. The temple in Bali with unique colors. I really wanted to see photos or videos of traditional dances.

  3. wow!! great!! I wanted to come here once to be able to explore it!

  4. Tanalot must be the Bali's most iconic temple, it is perched on top of a huge rock, and surrounded by the sea with waves