Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Trip To Bali, Indonesia: Uluwatu Temple / Pura Luhur Uluwatu

Photo By: Elin Chow

Located at the southern point of Bukit Peninsula, Pura Luhur Uluwatu (also known as Uluwatu Temple) is a famous ancient sea temple built on the tip of a cliff, 90 metres above the Indian Ocean. The temple is an important landmark and an absolute must see in Bali.

Entrance Fees

Just like Tanah Lot, visitors are required to pay an entrance fee in order to enter the area. I could not remember the price because they were included in our tour package. Uluwuta opens daily from 9.00 am to 6.00 pm for visitors. For worship purposes, it is open for 24 hours daily.

Souvenirs shops can be found at the entrance to the temple. But unlike Tanah Lot, Uluwatu is less commercialized, touristy and crowded due to its remote location. You will seldom find anyone offering to take your photograph for a price or trying to sell you something.

We paid the entrance fee and were given sarongs to wear. After putting on the sarongs, we walked down a stepped pathway towards the Indian Ocean. Plenty of trees are grown along the path to provide shade during sunny days.

In Balinese language "Ulu" means "top" or "tip" and "Watu" means "rock". So, Pura Luhur Uluwatu refers to the temple built on the tip of a rock.

Uluwatu Temple is one of the oldest temple in Bali. The thousand year old temple is perched atop of a steep cliff overlooking the beautiful Indian Ocean. Just like Tanah Lot, it is built to protect the island from the evil sea spirits and is one of the seven sea temple that form a chain along the coast of Bali.

The temple is considered to be one of the nine Kahyangan Jagat (directional temples) in Bali, which is meant to protect evil spirits from the island. All these temples are built in auspicious locations that are believed to bring good luck to the island.

Among the nine, six are classified as Sad Kahyangan or Six Sanctuaries of the World. Uluwatu temple is regarded as one of the Six Sanctuaries of the World. The Six Sanctuaries of the World are the most holiest place of worship in Bali and are situated in six key points on the island. The placement of the temples is believe to provide spiritual balance to the island.

Various inscriptions have indicated that the temple was founded by Mpu Kunturan, a Majapahit monk who have also established several other important temples in Bali such as Pura Sakenan in Denpasar. The Balinese Hindu devotees believe that Dhang Hyang Nirartha, a wandering priest from East Java, have chosen Uluwatu as his last earthly abode.

Legend, however, says that Nirartha was actually the one who founded the Uluwatu Temple. It is believed that Nirartha has attained Moska (disappeared without leaving his body) while mediating at Uluwatu.

In 1999, a lightning strike and set some part of the temple on fire. The temple has since been restored. However, the continuous pounding of ocean waves have eroded the cliff base, putting the temple of collapsing.

Just like Tanah Lot, Uluwatu is another excellent and popular spot for watching sunset over the Indian Ocean. The best time to visit is around 5.00 pm when the sun is just about to set. However, I would suggest anyone to visit early before noon if you want to avoid the massive crowds.

Although a famous tourist attraction, Ulutwatu is still a holy place for worship and respect should be shown at all times. Please dress appropriately when you are visiting the temple. A sarong and sash must be worn in order to enter the temple grounds. At the entrance, there are sarongs and sashes which you can rent for free if you did not bring your own.

We stood on the edge of the cliff with magnificent view of the Indian Ocean, offering plenty of opportunities for breathtaking photography.

We were overwhelmed by the beautiful scenery that surrounded us. The view of the impossibly blue sky and ocean takes our breath away.

This is a great place to escape the hustle and bustle of city life and relax under the warmth of the sun as you listen to the calming ocean waves. 

Uluwatu is surrounded by a small forest where hordes of grey long-tailed wild monkeys dwell. There are hundreds of monkeys roaming along the path outside Uluwatu Temple. These monkeys are very cute, but do not be deceive by their cute appearance.They are certainly not as friendly or tame as they look, especially when they are hungry.

These monkeys are adept at snatching and stealing belongings from visitors, particularly shiny items like jewellery, sunglasses and spectacles. They can be a huge nuisance!

Make sure you keep a close grip on all your belongings and keep your sunglasses in your bag. Having said that, we were a victim too. We were walking down the pathway to the temple. engrossed in taking pictures of the monkeys. One of the monkey ran up behind us, snatch my husband's Ray-Ban sunglasses and ran off down the cliff. Before we realized it, the monkey snapped the sunglasses into half and threw it down into the ocean.

The monkey population in the area is growing, but nothing has been done to control its number. This is because these monkeys are considered sacred in the Balinese Hindu culture and thus, have to be protected.

The clear blue sky, rugged cliffs, impossibly blue waters makes a perfect backdrop for photo taking.

Uluwatu offer a panoramic stunning view over the Indian Ocean and the surrounding area. Far below, you will find the waves crashing violently against the enormous cliffs, sending sea spray high in the air. It was a very spectacular sight!

Despite the growth of mass tourism, the area remains wonderfully unspoiled and tranquil. The scenery was exceptionally stunning, especially on a bright and sunny day.

Uluwatu is a great place to unwind and relax. Take a deep breath of fresh Indian ocean air and listen to the crashing waves. You can spend your day doing absolutely nothing and simply enjoy the beautiful surrounding while the strong wind blows your hair wildly in every direction.

Please note that swimming is not recommended due to strong waves and currents,The high waves actually makes Uluwatu beach an excellent place for surfing. But unfortunately, surfing Uluwatu is not for beginners. Only pros and experienced surfers should attempt at Uluwatu.

Uluwatu is known as one of the top surfing spot in Bali. The waves are fast and powerful so expert or advanced surfing skills are necessary. Although Uluwatu provides consistently great waves throughout the day, the best season to surf will be during the dry season which runs from April to October.

The temple is just like many other traditional temples you will see in Bali. It was beautifully built with black coral rocks, but not impressive. It is the view of Uluwatu cliff that attract the million of visitors per year.

Most of the temple ground are open to the public and visitors are free to walk around and admire the beauty of the ancient architecture. Similar to Tanah Lot Temple, non-Hindu devotees are not allowed to enter the inner sanctum of the temple. The temple remains locked most of the time unless there is a special ritual or event. However, visitors can still see most of the temple through the gateway and over the walls.

Beside the temple, there is a stage where a Kecak dance performance is held at 6.00 pm every evening. The temple complex can get very crowded and I would suggest anyone to arrive early to get a good viewing spot. Ticket costs IDR 100,000 and can be purchased in advance at the entrance.

Uluwatu is just perfect for anyone who enjoy breathtaking scenery, glorious sunshine and stunning ocean views. The expansive ocean view is absolutely stunning, you will want to have your camera ready. With its stunning coastline, amazing rock formation and shimmering blue ocean, Uluwatu is truly a spectacular sight to behold.

If you are interested to know more about our trip, you may want to check out our 6D5N Bali Trip Itinerary + Overview for the list of attractions that we had visited during our 6 days in Bali. Be sure to follow me on Facebook or Twitter  for the latest updates on my 6 days adventures in Bali! You might also want to check My Wanderlust page for some of my other travel adventures.

Sunday, April 24, 2016

Trip To Bali, Indonesia: Tanah Lot Temple / Pura Tanah Lot

Photo By: Elin Chow

A trip to Bali is never complete without a visit to Tanah Lot, one of the most famous tourist attraction on the island.

Tanah Lot

Located at Beraban village, Tabanan, about 20 kilometers from Denpasar, the capital of Bali, Tanah Lot is a rock formation off the Indonesian island. Attracting over a million visitors every year, Tanah Lot is known as one of the most important landmark in Bali.

Admission Fee

Due to tourism development in Bali, the area around Tanah Lot is highly commercialized and visitors will be required to pay an entrance fee in order to enter the area.

Types Of Ticket
RP 7,500
RP 15,000
RP 10,000
RP 30,000

The price of admission is as above. As you can see, the attraction has a dual pricing. Foreign visitors are required to pay double the price in order to enter the site.

Parking Fee

Other than admission fee, visitors are required to pay parking fee in order to park their vehicle on site. The price of parking fee is as below.

Types of Vehicle
RP 2,000
RP 5,000
RP 10,000

In order to reach the temple, visitors have to walk through a pathway lined with souvenirs shops and restaurants that are specifically targeted at tourists. Most of the shops offer a variety of T-shirts, Balinese sarong, hats, sandals, accessories and typical tourist souvenirs such as magnet trinkets. There were also art shops selling local handicrafts, paintings and wood cravings and food stalls selling overpriced food and drinks.

In Balinese language, "Pura" means "temple" and "Tanah Lot" means "land in the sea". The location of the Tanah Lot Temple is incredible. The temple itself is perched atop an enormous off shore rock surrounded by the waters of the Indian ocean. It is built to honor the gods of the sea and is one of the seven sea temples around the coast of Bali.

Each of the sea temple is said to be visible from the next, forming a chain around the island, protecting it from the evil spirits. It is also said that the temple is founded in the sixteenth century by Danghyang Nirartha, a wandering priest who traveled to Bali from the kingdom of Majapahit in East Java to spread Hinduism.

Nirartha arrived at the beautiful area where he shared his teachings to Beraban villagers. Unfortunately, he faced opposition from the village chief, who gathered his loyal followers to dispel him. Nirartha resisted, incredibly shifting a large rock he mediated upon out into the sea.

Impressed by Nirartha's powers, the village chief became his follower. Before Nirartha left this sacred spot, he advised his followers to build a shrine to worship the guardians of the sea because he felt that this is a holy place.

Unfortunately, the continuous crashing of huge waves and fierce winds gradually wear away the rock. In 1980, the rock face of the temple started to crumble. Due to the erosion of the rock face, the temple is under threat and in danger of collapse. As the result, the entire area had to be sealed for restoration works. With the aid of Japanese government, the rock was fully restored. However, one-third of the rock is artificial.

Visitors are able to walk along the coastline and enjoy the view of the magnificent holy temple of Tanah Lot.

Tanah lot is one of the most visited and photographed temple in Bali. Hundreds or even thousands of visitors flocked to the site everyday to snap pictures of this beauty. So, be sure to bring along your camera for breathtaking photo opportunities. Do not worry if you forget to bring your camera or runs out of battery. You can hire one of the many local photographers at the site to take photographs of you and your family.

Tanah Lot is known for its spectacular sun set. It is one of the best spot to view the beautiful sun set in Bali. Thus, the best time to visit is around 5.00 pm when the sun is just about to set.

However, be prepared for massive crowds if you plan to visit Tanah Lot at sunset.  This is undoubtedly one of the best place in Bali to get prefect sunset ocean shots. However, if you prefer to watch Tanah Lot without the massive crowds, I would suggest that you visit early before noon.

The picturesque landscape offers an abundance of opportunities for photography. 

Despite the growth of mass tourism, most of the area in Tanah Lot remains pristine and unspoiled, making it a delight to explore. 

Walking further in, you will find Tanah lot temple on your left and the Batu Balong temple (Pura Batu Balong) on the right (if you are facing the sea).

Batu Balong temple is a smaller temple perched at the end of a rocky promontory overlooking the wide open Indian Ocean. It is said that the temple is built to protect Tanah Lot.

Batu Balong means rock with hole in Balinese language. There is a hole underneath the rock, hence the name. Most of the visitors to Pura Batu Barong tends to lump it with Tanah Lot and this explained why its name is not familiar. There were actually very few visitors who will walk to this temple as most of them were more excited to visit the main attraction of Tanah Lot. 

Unfortunately, the temple is off-limits to non-Hindu visitors and will remain locked unless there is a ceremony in progress. 

However, visitors can still see most of the temple through the gateway and over the walls.

The clear blue sky and turquoise ocean makes a perfect backdrop for photo shooting.

Surrounded by waters on all sides, Tanah Lot temple is only accessible at low tides. The water recedes at low tides to reveal a sandy foot path between the shore and the island, allowing visitors to walk across the water to the temple. There are no boats to the island, it can only reached by foot. The temple becomes an isolated island again once the water comes in during high tides.

However, please note that the waters is not recommended for swimming or surfing for beginners due to strong currents and waves.The waves around this part of the island is usually very rough and choppy with tides coming in so much faster than you might imagine.

Unfortunately, just like Batu Balong Temple, non-Hindu visitors are also not allowed to enter the Tanah Lot temple.The temple is known as one of the most holy places in Bali and only true Hindu devotees are allowed to climb the uneven stairway craved out of the face of the rock and enter the compound of the temple.

However, the outer sanctum of  temple is open to the public where non Hindu visitors can get close enough to admire its pavilions and pagodas. There is a little cave beneath the temple where you can receive a blessing from the holy Balinese priests. In the cave, you will also find a fresh water spring which the Balinese believe to be holy water. This is because the water in the spring is fresh even though the temple is surrounded by salty sea water.

In order to receive a blessing from the Balinese priests, simply queue and proceed to wash your face and hands with the spring water. The priest will then sprinkle some holy water over your head, offer you a drink from the sacred water that flows down the rock wall and press some rice grain to your forehead. Once you are done, you are required to place a small donation in a basket next to the priest.

The constant pounding of ocean waves have created a number of caves at the base of the rock formation and many of which are home to highly venomous sea snakes. Many of these caves around the temple can also be explored if you are not worried about the snakes. However, according to legends, the temple is guarded by these black-and-silver striped sea snakes from evil spirits and intruders. The Balinese actually believe that these holy snakes are not dangerous and will not attack anyone as long as you do not disturb their natural habitat.

The scientific name of the holy snake is Bungarus Candidus, also known as Malayan Krait or Blue Krait. These snakes are said to be created by Niratha's sashes, which fell into the sea when he left the sacred spot. It is believed that these holy snakes can only be found in Tanah Lot and not anywhere else in the world. Well, I am not sure true is this, but this is what the Balinese believe.

Located directly opposite the temple, you will see another cave where visitors can receive a blessing from a sacred snake. Visitors are welcome to see and even touch the holy snake for a small donation. The Balinese believe that touching the snake will bring luck to the person.

This was actually the first time I got to touch a snake. If you have never touched a snake before, you might think that they will feel slimy. But in actual fact, the skin of the snake is dry and surprisingly cold and smooth to the touch. It was a really amazing experience!

Tanah Lot is definitely one of the most spectacular sight on the coast of Bali that no visitors should miss. We love the sound of crashing waves against the crashing shoreline while the warm breeze gently blows through our hair. I would strongly recommend anyone to include Tanah Lot in your itinerary if you are visiting Bali.

If you are interested to know more about our trip, you may want to check out our 6D5N Bali Trip Itinerary + Overview for the list of attractions that we had visited during our 6 days in Bali. Be sure to follow me on Facebook or Twitter  for the latest updates on my 6 days adventures in Bali! You might also want to check My Wanderlust page for some of my other travel adventures.