Anyone who’s been to Bali knows what an incredibly spiritual place it is. Balinese culture revolves largely around Hinduism, the predominant religion on the island. There are thousands of Hindu temples dotted around Bali and you really can’t leave without visiting at least one. When I visited Bali last year on my honeymoon, Ben and I planned a trip out to see a couple of central Bali’s most revered temples: Tirta Empul and Gunung Kawi. It was such a privilege to observe the locals practising their religion and we felt so much more connected to the people and the island having done so. For anyone curious about Bali’s Hindu temples, here’s a look inside.
Inside Bali’s Hindu temples:
Located only 30 minutes north of Ubud, Tirta Empul is one of Bali’s largest water temples. It’s over a thousand years old and is dedicated to Vishnu, the Hindu God of water. The temple complex itself is sprawling but its most famous feature is the purification pools. The water being pumped into these pools is sourced from a nearby holy spring; it’s believed that the water has healing and purifying properties. It’s fascinating to watch the locals (and some tourists) make their way from spout to spout, praying and cleansing themselves.
The location of Gunung Kawi couldn’t be more beautiful. It’s found at the bottom of a lush, river valley and is one of Bali’s oldest and Hindu temples. A series of eight-metre-high shrines are carved into the rockface under the shade of palm trees and creepers.
A visit here is magical at any time but we were lucky enough to have timed our visit during a ceremony. It was such a special experience to see the community gather in their ceremonial dress to perform their rituals. It made our visit so much more meaningful than it would have otherwise been.
Some tips for visiting Bali’s hindu temples:
- Your knees and shoulders need to be covered (remember, this is a holy place)
- You can hire a sarong at the temple’s entrance for a small fee
- Take off your shoes before entering the temple
- Females are not permitted to enter if they are menstruating
- Pregnant women are not permitted inside temples
- It’s offensive to point your feet towards shrines or other holy objects
- Bow your head lower than the priest’s out of respect
- Always be courteous and respectful to the worshippers
Planning a trip to Indonesia and looking for more inspiration? Check out our other posts:
- A Foodie’s Guide to Seminyak
- Honeymoon Heaven in Seminyak: The Elysian Boutique Villa Hotel
- A Quick Guide to Ubud: Where to Eat, Play and Stay
- Staying at the #1 Hotel in the World: Nihi Sumba Island
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Have you been to any of Bali’s hindu temples?