When it comes to temples, we like them old.  Actually, the older, the better.  I don’t know why but I find that while new temples may be nice to look at, they lack soul.  Ancient temples, on the other hand, even when in ruins, are incredibly beautiful and they always feel so wonderfully peaceful.  Since Bali is known as the "island of a thousand temples", we just had to visit a few while we were there. 

Gunung Kawi

This was our favourite.  It is one of the oldest religious places in Bali and is believed to have been built in the 11th century to honour a king.  As you make your way down the mountain (lots of steps!), past beautiful rice terraces, you’ll arrive at a series of tombs that have been chiseled out of the face of the mountain.  The tombs have stood the test of time and you can still make out the ancient inscription.  The temple is also craved out of rock and unlike a temple building, what you have is basically an inner sanctum for prayer and meditation.  As I walked barefoot in the temple and ran my hands across the cool surface of the temple’s rock walls, I could only imagine the amount of sheer, hard work it took to painstakingly build something like this by hand.  Totally worth the 300 steps we had to climb.

Ulun Danu Batur Temple

I think this is the one of the important temples in Bali but what really left a deep impression on us was the deep sense of peace we felt when we entered the inner courtyard of the temple, and that its architecture reminded us of Angkor Wat.  Now, that’s another place on my to-visit list!

Pura Tirta Empul (Tampaksiring Temple)

Dating back to 926AD, the spring water from the temple is believed to be scared and to have healing properties.  Till today, locals flock to the temple to cleanse themselves in the public bathing pool.  The devotees bring flowers and offerings, and it is after ritual and prayer that they immerse themselves in the holy spring water.  There are a number of water fountains, and each is believed to have a unique healing power.  We saw some tourists who decided to also take a dip in the water (for luck, perhaps?), but without bothering to understand the cultural and religious significance behind the ritual took water from the 2 fountains which were reserved only for the priests and religious ceremonies.  Tsk, tsk. 


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