While the Indonesian population are predominantly Muslims, Hinduism is the dominant religion in Bali. It was first brought to the region in the 5th century from India. While the main religion was then replaced by Buddism and then by Islam, the Balinese remained Hindus.
Balinese are very religious, and they believe in offering the Gods before the start of any auspicious occasion. As a result it has been claimed that temples outnumber homes in Bali. The number of religious compounds in Bali is said to be over 10,000 but most of the temples are actually shrines.
Normally peaceful and uninhabited, Bali’s temples transform into scenes of great activity and are ornately decorated during festivals and temple anniversaries with traditional dance performances.
In Bali, Hindu Balinese temples (Pura) can be found quite easily. Their exuberant culture has been uniquely displayed in their temples.
Here are the top five Hindu Temples in Bali you should visit:
This is the holiest and most historically significant of all temples in Bali. Also known as the Mother Temple, it is located some 3,000 ft above Gunung Agung in East Bali. This sprawling complex consists of 23 separate temples, some even dating back to the 10th century.
Located about a mile south of Tampaksiring, Bali’s Valley of the Kings sits in a ravine between rice fields. The Pakerisan river flows through this ravine, and the cliffs flanking the river feature shrines carved into the stone honoring kings and queens from the 11th century. The Balinese believe that the river sanctifies Pura Gunung Kawi.
Tirta Empul, fed by the scared spring, provides holy water for priests and bathing for ordinary Balinese, who believe that a dip can bring good fortune and health. An offering must first be made at the temple before climbing into the long main pool to bathe and meditate. Legend has it that the God Indra created the spring Tampaksiring as an antidote to a poisonous spring created by an evil demon king.
Pura Luhur Lempuyang is one of the six Sad Kahyangan (temples of the world), dedicated to Sang Hyang Widi Wasa (the supreme God). It is also one of the island’s nine directional temples, which is believed to protect the native Balinese from evil spirits.
Tanah Lot stands on a rock some distance from the shore, towering over the sea. Access to the temple is limited to low tide; even so, this picturesque temple is barraged by visitors. The temple’s construction was supposedly inspired by the priest Nirartha in the 15th century; after spending the night on the rock outcrop where the temple now stands, he instructed local fishermen to build a temple on that site. Today, Tanah Lot is regarded as one of Bali’s most important directional temples.
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