The Endless Beauty of the Tanah Lot Temple in Bali, Indonesia
The Tanah Lot Temple is not only one of the most important landmarks in Bali, but it is perhaps best known for its spectacular setting, perched atop an outcropping of rocks and surrounded by ever-crashing waves and a backdrop of spectacular sunsets. Located approximately 20km northwest of Kuta, the Tanah Lot Temple is a popular stopping point for virtually all of the tours of Bali’s central and western regions.
History and legends
The Temple is said to mark the spot where a high priest named Dang Hyang Nirartha arrived and determined to build a shrine to the Hindu god of the sea, Baruna. Unfortunately, the chief of the local village opposed his plan, and ordered his followers to expel Nirartha. who spent his time meditating on the large rock outcropping. When Nirartha was approached the rock shifted and moved out to sea. When realized the priest’s powers, the chief acknowledged him and vowed his allegiance.
Today, countless visitors find themselves crossing the natural rock bridge to the temple at low tide every day. Watch out, however, legend has it that thousands of sea snakes protect the entrance to the temple, although if it’s any comfort they have never been seen. The natural sprays of water are also considered holy, and are used by visitors to cleanse themselves prior to entering the area. Go ahead and take a sip. It’s amazingly fresh water.
The Tanah Lot Temple and the surrounding area is a sight not to be missed, but don’t forget a trip to the gardens that line the grounds. There are many smaller temples in the area that are largely used by local farmers who come to pray for their livelihoods. If you a lucky you might catch one of the priests who arrive by bicycle to advise these farmers and help them to appease the gods.
The area is also dotted with shady places to stop and enjoy the scenery, and when you are done you can visit one of the numerous art shops that sell curios and souvenirs of all types, made primarily by the local artisans. Peddlers sell foodstuffs of all types, most notably a snack called jaja kelepon, a gelatin ball that is filled with palm sugar and rolled in grated coconut.
Something else that is not to be missed is the holy day of Kuningan, which is the anniversary of the founding of the temple. The pilgrimages that end at the temple are sights and sounds not to be forgotten and are well worth the trouble to visit. All of these are festive parades that are presented are memorable in the own rights. But be sure that you act and dress respectably since this is considered of religious significance.
Visitors to the site should also be cautious of their walks since the rocks can be quite slippery and the waves can cause them to fall. There are lifeguards stationed along the coast to keep watch over visitors, and the tickets you purchase to park are also good for admittance to area attractions and also provide insurance.
There are many tours that start at points all around the temple, but try to get into one that arrives in the early afternoon so you have plenty of time to explore the site and see it when the lighting is at its best. When you’re done, make sure you visit the Surya Mandala Cultural Park, where there is an open stage for you to enjoy the sunsets and watch the performances of the ancient Kecak fire dance.’
After an unforgettable performance, you can enjoy one of the countless restaurants on the Sunset Terrace, where you can enjoy both Western and Asian delights as well as a tasty treat of Bali’s signature treat, spicy sauced grills and seafood. Be sure to wash it all down with the 15m high views out over the temple.
Bali is such an unforgettable place for not only the Tanah Lot Temple, but for the vast numbers of everything to see and do. Just make sure that you see the temple, but to also enjoy and appreciate everything that is around it as well as the events that commemorate it and its founding. You don’t have to be a Hindu to appreciate the color and the pageantry that makes the temple such a popular attraction.