Balinese are blessed with an abundance of natural wonders with enough lakes, mountains, and rivers to explore for a lifetime. We’ve also got some of the most jaw-dropping beautiful temples in Bali. Here are the top 8 of the best to check out.
1. Tanah Lot Temple
Tanah Lot is dramatically located on the Tabanan coast. Built on a promontory only accessible at low tide, this temple is one of the most important in Bali. It means “Sea Temple of the Earth”. This stunning religious complex and impressive architectural feat sits on a gigantic jagged rock that rises out of the ocean on Bali’s southern coast. World Monuments Watch lists it as one of the 100 most endangered and historical sites in the world. Tanah Lot is also celebrated for the breathtaking sunsets. Here, when the sun slowly and gracefully sinks into the horizon, every pair of eyes in the area are bound to look at one specific spot in the sky.
Nearby, there is another beautiful temple; Batu Bolong Temple, meaning “ hollowed rock”. The small shrine is built on a rocky promontory that is said dedicated to the protective sea spirits in that area. This site on the north of Tanah Lot has its own allure, it’s quite underrated if we may say. So be sure to walk up north and visit Batu Bolong Temple as well.
2. Uluwatu Temple
Uluwatu temple is precariously located at the point of a sheer cliff on the island’s southern peninsula. It is one of the oldest and most important temples in Bali, one of the six original territorial temples on the island. Travelers rave about Uluwatu Temple’s stunning cliff-side locale and beautiful architecture. This combination is rendered only more dramatic by the crashing of waves more than 200 feet below.
This sacred site is located about 15 miles south Kuta, along the southern coast of Bali which offers a dramatic sunset view from the clifftop. However, on the cliff adjacent to the temple, one of Bali’s most memorable Kecak Dance performance can be witnessed every day on sunset that begins at 6 p.m. every evening. On the whole, tourists really enjoy this cultural display and don’t mind paying the extra IDR 100,000 to watch. Bellow the temple is a large sea cave and Suluban Beach, one of the most famous surf spots on the island.
3. Ulun Danu Temple
Ulun Danu Temple at Beratan is the most photographed temple on the island and is one of the iconic images of Bali. The temple sits on the western shore of Lake Beratan, therefore, giving the illusion of floating on the water. Built-in 1633, the temple is devoted to Dewi Danu, goddess of the lake. On the other side, Ulun Danu is one of the beautiful places to watch the sunrise in Bali. It feels utterly surreal seeing the temple emerging from the morning mist, with the glistening quiet lake and lush green mountains towering in the background. In addition, hiring a paddle boat is also a good option to take in all the dreamlike landscape. It is such a beautiful temple in a truly stunning setting.
4. Tirta Empul Temple
Tirta Empul Temple at Tampak Siring was built in 960 AD. Tirta Empul means “holy spring water” that is passing within the temple. The water feeds adjoining purification pools, baths and fish ponds surrounding the outer complex which then all flow to the Tukad Pakerisan River.
While there are several shrines and other structures on the premises, the temple’s tranquility is best seen in the large rectangular pool at the complex’s center. The spring is still believed to have healing powers. Pilgrims come from far and near to bathe in the pool to cleanse their body spiritually, mentally and physically. The worshipers enter the water to pray. Travelers, too, are welcome to enter the water, known for being a holy mountain spring.
While Bali’s other temples may be larger or more jaw-dropping, Tirta Empul Temple possesses a unique serenity that cannot be matched. This active prayer site inspires both Balinese Hindus and visitors of different beliefs. This temple is a Holy Water temple and a great cultural experience. If you have time, partake in the purification process. You’ll need to rent a sarong and follow what the locals do for the process.
5. Taman Ayun Temple
Taman Ayun literally translates as Beautiful Garden and is regarded as one of the most attractive temples in Bali. It was built in 1634 by the King of Mengwi, I Gusti Agung Putu. The temple is bordered by wide canals that irrigate the fields around the site. The temple is dedicated to the ancestor of the Mengwi Dynasty and other important Gods. Taman Ayun Temple is regarded as the “mother temple” for the Mengwi Kingdom. The visitor need to wear Balinese sarongs before entering the temple. The temple is located right next to the main road, making it easily accessible. The main part of the temple is considered sacred, so only those who come to bring offerings and pray. But visitors can explore the temple and see all cultural activities from the side. You can feel the serenity and tranquility in this beautifully designed temple with extraordinary architecture.
6. Lempuyang Temple
Lempuyang means ‘The Lights of God’. A complex of seven temples, the most spectacular of which is Pura Agung Lempuyang Tara Penah, nestled on the hillside 11 km from Tirta Gangga. Here, the dazzling white split gate perfectly frames Mt Agung, and the temple guardians – three pairs of colossal sea serpents – border a trio of towering staircases. One kilometer further on, a stairway of 1700 steps winds through the forest up to the temple of Lempuyang Luhur, 768 meters above sea level on the top of Belibis Hill. The climb takes about 2 hours. This is one of Bali’s oldest and most important temples and the intense spiritual energy of this place is almost tangible. It offers the perfect blend of nature and beautiful culture.
7. Goa Gajah Temple
Goa Gajah means ‘Elephant Cave’. Goa Gajah is a significant Hindu archaeological site located in a small village called Bedulu. It is just 10 minutes drive away from the downtown area of Ubud. Thought to date back to at least the 11th century, was excavated in 1922. The centerpiece here is a cave, the entrance to which is an ornately carved demon’s mouth. Inside of the 15 meters long cave, you will find the incomplete relics of a lingam, (a symbolic representation of the Hindu God Lord Shiva), and his female equivalent the Yoni. There is also a statue of Lord Shiva’s son, Lord Ganesha. Giant carved guards stand around pools near the entrance, and a little path leads to a waterfall and small rice fields. In addition, this unique temple was listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1995 so it is worth to visit whenever you have a chance to visit Ubud.
8. Gunung Kawi Temple
Gunung Kawi is an 11th-century temple in Tampaksiring that is spread across either side of the Pakerisan river. It comprises 10 rock-cut shrines that are carved into 7-meter-high. Sheltered niches of the sheer cliff face. Carved by hand into the hillside rocks a thousand years ago, this temple showcased the worshipers’ determination in ancient times. There are four groups of buildings sculptured, three temples and a Buddhist temple on the Gunung Kawi. This is presumed to be the burial complex of King Anak Wungsu and his wives. This temple, known as the “Valley of the Kings” is beautifully located in a river valley surrounded by beautiful rice fields, forests, and rivers.