Bali is well-known for its Hindu-influenced culture and tradition. Hindu temples in Bali are not like any others in the world. One of them is the Uluwatu Temple. It is a famous tourist’s destination, where you can witness traditional Balinese ceremonies. From interacting with monkeys to experiencing Balinese religious ceremony, there are many things you can do at the Uluwatu temple. Although you have to travel some distance to reach this destination, there are some interesting places you can visit along your way to the mesmerizing hilly region of Bali.
What does Uluwatu have to offer?
Bali is not just about lowland beaches. Uluwatu stores a magnificent view that you will not get anywhere else on the island. Beyond the cliff, the beauty of Uluwatu beach remains unspoiled. Although you can only enjoy it from afar, the scenery you see here will still take your breath away.
It takes around 30 minutes of driving to get to Uluwatu Temple from the airport. There is no bus available to this area, so you have to grab a taxi or a motorcycle taxi (known locally as Ojek). Alternatively, you can join any tour which provides pick-up services and a guide, or drive your own rented vehicle. To keep the long trip interesting, it is better for you to travel with a local. The best way to get to Uluwatu Temple is via Kurusetra Street where you can find one of the interesting spiritual places of Bali known as Puja Mandala.
Visiting the temple in the wee hours of the morning will be a good idea. Going early will give you more time to explore the entire area without facing the bustle of tourist crowds. Another benefit of an early-morning visit is that you will not have to struggle walking in the rising heat, given the hot and humid Balinese sun.
Puja Mandala: A place of worship for 5 religions
In 1997, the former President of Indonesia, Mr. Suharto, built five buildings of worship in one area. The five buildings represent the five religions that are commonly practised in Indonesia. They include Islam, Buddhism, Christianity, Catholicism, and Hinduism. There is no entrance fee for Puja Mandala. It is open to public daily during each religion’s prayer times. At other times, you can see the buildings from the nearby parking area.
Pura Luhur Uluwatu: A spiritual platform for the 9 gods of wind directions
From Puja Mandala, it takes around 20 minutes to get to the cliff side of Uluwatu, where the temple is located. You just have to follow the main road and the road signs to get there. Balinese believe in Dewata Nawa Sangha, the 9 gods who are protectors of life. Of the 9 gods, 8 are believed to control the 8 wind directions while 1 maintain the balance in the center.
You have to prepare 20,000 IDR (approximately 1.50 USD) to enter; 5,000 IDR (approximately 0.50 USD) for the parking fee and 15,000 IDR (approximately 1 USD) for the entrance fee. They will provide you two pieces of clothing before you enter as a symbol of how the Balinese dress for their rituals at the temple. One cloth is to be wrapped around your waist to cover your legs and the other one is to be used as the belt.
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Notice the rules and boundaries around the sacred area
Even though Uluwatu Temple is a tourist attraction and accessible for everyone, there are some rules you have to follow. There are some restricted areas, which you must not enter at certain times or days, as those are deemed to be sacred. You may come across a few other areas with warning signs and at all time. Even ordinary Balinese people may not enter these areas because they are only accessible for Pedanda, a Balinese scholarly high priest. This temple is surrounded by monkeys. If you want to see them, come in the morning or afternoon when they go out to hunt for food. You may feed them with snacks, which you can buy in the food court area. Monkeys are smart and sneaky, so take care of your belongings. You may want to put away your glasses, handbags, and hats. However, if you get unlucky, the local committee will help you to retrieve them. If you don’t want any of those troubles, just come around noon as I did when they usually take naps.
Beautiful scenery and spiritual experience all at once!
The Uluwatu temple area is quite extensive. You can spend your entire noon here by exploring the temple. If you visit during Balinese ceremonial day, you can witness or even join in the ritual, which you will not see anywhere else in the world. In the evening, you can watch a Kecak dance performance about Rama & Shinta legend with extra 100,000 IDR (approximately 7 USD). Don’t forget to get to the top of the hill where the main temple is located. Here, you can take some time to feel the breeze and see the wave crashes along the reef from afar. Remember that scene, and you will walk back down the stairway with a smile on your face.
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