Secret Tips - The Temples of Ubud
Bali, March 2017
During my one very short week in Ubud, we made it to five different temples in total. They are one of the reasons why I really wanted to go to Bali, to see a culture and religion so different to everything I grew up with and almost no similarities at all.
Going to a Temple is a bit like going to a church in Europe (but also very different). Don’t show shoulders, don’t show knees or anything above. Also, no matter which temple, you have to wear a Sarong, a big scarf you wear tied around your hips. Most temples offer them at the entrance for visitors, but well, they are not the prettiest, so buying one at the many shops in front of the temples is probably the best idea. Don’t forget to negotiate a lot, it’s just polite to do so!
Religion is a big topic in a country like Indonesia, I haven’t seen one person who isn’t doing some of the little rituals. One you will see the most often, is the offering: they give three times a day. For each meal they hold back a tiny bite from whatever they have to place it with a some flowers on a little banana leaf tray and offer it to their gods in front of shops or homes. Even the people at our hotel gave little offerings for each meal near the pool (which of course the monkeys stole after a few minutes). It’s a beautiful little ritual, so please, wherever you go, watch out for that little gifts!
Most temples in Bali are used by both, Hindi and Buddhist since a mix of these two is the main religion in Bali. There are always festivals happening at different temples, since they don’t have one big calendar and each temples follows it’s own.
Also, each temple only gets visited by people of the community, the people who live around it. They often celebrate exactly the same, just months apart. The festivals are always held during full moon (calculate that into your travel itinerary). There is one festival at each temple every 210 days, so there is basically always one somewhere at one of the many temples.
You can find the five temples I visited down below, two of them where quite touristy, but thankfully, our amazing guides took us to more traditional hidden ones too, and thats probably the most beautiful way of experiencing the quietness and calming influence a temple has on you.
The one at the bottom was my very favourite, even though they all were absolutely stunning and beautiful, but I guess holding your feet into holy water with Koi’s is just something very special!
Please be aware that I absolutely don’t speak any Indonesian and always just copied whatever was said on the signs in front of the temples, I also tried to learn as much as possible about the religion and culture, but I might still have done some research mistakes or understood something wrong! If anyone notices something, please come forward to I can change it.
Also called the Elephant Cave, was the very first temple we visited on our little tour and it was by far the most touristy. But well, that`s totally understandable! For someone who is afraid of heights, please skip that one, it’s an amazing area but has quite some steps up and down. My Auntie had to wait at the top of it and couldn't make her way down tol the main area of it, where an old statue once fell down into a part of the holy water stream. The most impressive part are the million year old trees. Okay, the are by far not that old, but they are so impressive, that they could be.
The temple got it’s name from a cave with some of the most wonderful reliefs around it.
PURA SAMUAN TIGA
Our second stop, just a few minutes with the car from the Elephant Cave Temple. This is a beautiful place to experience the real magic of a temple. It is an absolute stunning area, totally quiet and no tourists at all. It still get’s visited mostly by locals who come to pray and bring their offerings. Also, it is one of the temples where you can really experience the three court architecture, from one big, into a smaller, into the main one, where the most important part of ceremonies is held.
PURA PENATARA SANSIH
This was very special for me. Seeing a temple in the middle of celebrations, where thousands of fruits and sweets are waiting as an offering is something truly magical. As far as I understood, every temple is celebrating it's birthday each year, where the whole community comes together and brings one of those amazing curated multiple layers of golden trays. They are beautifully decorated and the families offer the best of the best here. Not only what they normally eat, sweets, cans of their favourite drink, exotic fruits and almost always a whole cake.
I couldn't stop taking pictures of them, it’s something so stunning to see. Also, experiencing a fully decorated temple was something very special for me, all those bright colours, the flowers. Just beautiful!
CANDI TEBING GUNUNG KAWI
Now to my second favourite temple I saw in my time in Ubud. It is. So Beautiful. Not just the temple itself, which was absolutely breathtaking (we are talking HUGE statues caved into the biggest stone walls ever), also all the way down there was the first glimpse I got of the famous rice terraces of Bali. I love this place. There are not a lot of places on this world that make me feel small, but this was definitely one of them. The feeling you get standing in front these 7 meter high shrines is just... there are just no words for it.
The temple exists since the 11th century and spreads across both sides of a small river. They are meant to be funeral monuments dedicated to an old king and his family. I also really recommend following one of the smaller paths through the rice fields to the other part of the temple where the priest used to live. You pass a beautiful quiet waterfall and feel like being the only person on this planet. Gosh, I miss that feeling.
OBYEK WISATA GUNUNG KAWI
I am very sorry to say, but I am not sure how to describe this place. We visited at the end of out trip and it' s my absolute favourite temple in Ubud. I am constantly trying to google it, but all I can find are images from the temple above and on Indonesian websites, so I guess they are somehow related to each other. If you want to visit it, which I highly recommend, there' s no place I ever felt that spiritual and save, please show the pictures to your guide and hopefully he will know how to get there.
All I know is that it is one of the few holy water temples. And that they have Kois. And that I never ever in my whole life felt more peaceful than on this special little place.
Kois are probably one of my favourite animals in the world and being able to sit there, in this incredible place, feeding them, holding my feet into the water, from time to time even touching them, was just insane. This is the stuff dreams are made of, guys. This is the place why I would like to return to Bali immediately (ok... the temple and the monkeys).
I feel like it’s good that I might not be able to tell you the real name of this place, I feel like it should stay a secret, stay untouched, not crowded with tourists and selfie sticks. I feel like this place is too precious, too much of a dream, to share it with anyone. But well, there is no harm in showing you the pictures, I guess.