One of the fascinating things about Bali is that there are, literally, temples everywhere. Because of this, Bali is known as “the Island of a Thousand Puras”. Any street you turn down will have a temple of some sort, whether it be a grand edifice or a ‘small’ local establishment. I hesitate to call them small, though, because even the small ones are of a decent size.
On our first day in Bali, we got to see one of the smaller temples and were just fascinated by the layout and design. We had been on our way to Gunung Kawi and saw this neat temple shortly after leaving our hotel. We didn’t realize until later that, as fascinating as this one temple was, it was just one of the smaller, more plain temples in the area. And, really, no temple in Bali is all that plain.
The word ‘pura’ is a Sanskrit word that means ‘walled city’ or ‘palace’ and accurately describes a Balinese temple. The temples in Bali are set up to where they have all the sacred buildings within a walled complex. Even though the complex is walled on the exterior, the interior is designed so that worship takes place in an open-air setting that follows the Tri Mandala formula for how structures should be layed out.
Before getting inside the temple itself, there are some really neat things to see before the entrance gate. The exterior of a Balinese temple is pretty spectacular. There are statues, pavilions and some beautiful carvings.
On the wall at the left of the temple is a plaque that I’m assuming was placed there when the temple was built. I’ve tried to translate this to English, but none of the online tools I’ve used can translate more than two words. My guess is that this plaque is dedicating the temple and denotes the date of dedication, October 7, 2006.
This is a stone statue of a Balinese Hindu god. He sits outside the entrance to the outer courtyard. I looked around for an hour trying to figure out this guy’s name, but I couldn’t find it. I actually had a hard time with finding any definitive information on the statues and carvings on Balinese temples. There are several different sites that list different names, but the consensus is that this statue is guarding the entrance to the temple.
This is the pedestal in front of the entrance to the temple. The detail of the carving and the intricacy of the pedestal design is just wonderful.
One of the demon carvings at the base of the outer courtyard pedestal.
The first part of the Tri Mandala is known as the Nista mandala, or outer zone, and is used for dance performances and an are to make preparations during religious festivals. This is one of the doors congregants have to go through to get into this area.
Large pavilion (bale) in the inner courtyard, or Madya mandala, the middle zone.
One of the smaller shrines in the inner courtyard.
This tower is in the process of being decorated for an upcoming festival.
I love the style of this shrine, the multiple layers and and detailed accouterments.
You just can’t look at this without being awed by the detail and the precision of the carving.
I really love the temples in Bali. They are so fascinating and unique. I could have spent days just stopping at every one we passed in Ubud. Each temple is unique in its own way, thus leading to no two temples being exactly alike. If you get a chance to go to Bali, I recommend taking some time to visit a temple or two, just so you can enjoy and appreciate this part of the Balinese culture.