Bali Day 2: Taman Ayun Temple

After visiting Ulun Danu Keberatan Temple in the morning, where we also witnessed a ceremonial procession, we savoured a nasi padang lunch in a small little shop in a nearby market. Despite the light rain, I browsed among the colourful stalls and bought cinnamon powder for my culinary and baking pursuits.

Thereafter, we headed to Taman Ayun Temple, which was a landmark located 17km northwest of Denpasar.

Taman Ayun Temple
The main temple entrance, a large candi bentar

Built circa 1634 by the then ruler of the Mengwi kingdom, the temple is situated in the village of Mengwi, Badung regency. Taman Ayun Temple was restored in 1937.

Considered the ‘mother temple’ of Mengwi, this temple complex is famous for its wonderful traditional architectural features, including expansive green gardens with lotus and fish ponds. The name ‘Taman Ayun’ means ‘beautiful garden’. It is considered to be one of the most attractive temples of Bali.

Besides being well-known for its beautifully landscaped gardens, the hallmark of the Taman Ayun Temple is the series of Pelinggih Meru with towering tiers. The pagoda-like Pelinggih Meru shrine is a distinctive feature of Balinese temples.

Taman Ayun Temple
The towering shrines of Taman Ayun Temple

Balinese temple architecture is significantly different from Indian Hindu temple architecture. Within each Balinese temple, there are some common distinctive features, which are the bale, meru, kulkul and shrines. The bale are pavilions in the courtyards, each with its own specific function. The meru is a multi-tiered structure, and it is usually dedicated to a god or goddess. The number of tiers must always be odd, and the highest number must not exceed 11, which symbolises the highest respect. The kulkul is a hollow log which functions is similar to that of a church bell. It is used to call the community to come to the temple. Lastly, each temple will have a number of shrines. Each shrine will be dedicated to a god or goddess. Women will present the offerings to them.

The Taman Ayun Temple served as a main site of worship among the Mengwi people so they did not have to travel far to the main large temples, the likes of the Besakih ‘mother temple’ in Karangasem, Batukaru Temple in Tabanan, or Batur Temple in Kintamani.


Taman Ayun Temple is a pura tirta, or a water temple. Besides their religious function, the water temples also serve a water management function as a part of the irrigation system. Pura Ulun Danu Beratan, which I had visited in the morning, also belonged to this category.

Taman Ayun Temple
The towering tiers of Taman Ayun Temple
Taman Ayun Temple
Within the utama mandala (jero), which is the holiest and the most sacred zone within the pura

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Taman Ayun Temple
Skilled craftsmen constructing galungan or penjor kuningan by hand.
Taman Ayun Temple
The penjor, which are bamboo poles with offerings suspended at the end, are the most obvious sign of the Galungan festival. These penjor are installed along roads, and at the entrances to temples.
Taman Ayun Temple
A paduraksa or kori agung gate marks the entrance into the main sanctum of the temple

Other articles I wrote on Bali:
Bali Day 1: Uluwatu
Bali Day 1: Tari Kecak and Fire Dance
Bali Day 2: Ulun Danu Keberatan Temple
Bali Day 2: Procession at Ulun Danu Keberatan Temple

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Bali Day 2: Procession at Ulun Danu Keberatan Temple

I was at Ulun Danu Keberatan Temple between noon and 1.30pm on 24 September 2016. First of all, I was happy that I was lucky enough to visit Bali during the tail-end of the Galungan Festival, one of the most important festivals in Bali. You can read more about the Galungan Festival in an earlier blog post of mine about visiting Uluwatu on my first day in Bali.

Just before we left the temple, we saw a long procession of Balinese ladies and men in their traditional attire, walking towards the paduraksa or kori agung, the roofed tower gate that opened into the inner sanctum of the temple complex, the utama mandala (jero). I thought we were really lucky, because we did not know there was going to be a procession at 1.00pm, but there it was, coming towards us!

The lady at the head of the procession was dressed in a white Balinese kebaya embroidered with beautiful multi-coloured flowers. She balanced a tall package of boxes tied up in a plastic bag on her head with ease, and held an umbrella in one hand.

Procession at Ulun Danu Keberatan Temple
The lady at the head of the procession was dressed in a white Balinese kebaya embroidered with beautiful multi-coloured flowers.

In fact, all the ladies had mastered the art of balancing various objects on their head, and could walk gracefully without holding the things with their hands. They were carrying stuff hands-free! 🙂

Procession at Ulun Danu Keberatan Temple
The ladies had mastered the art of balancing various objects on their head

The procession was complete with musicians wearing matching outfits. They were beating drums of various sizes and shapes. There was even the Balinese version of cymbals.

Procession at Ulun Danu Keberatan Temple
Musicians wearing matching outfits and beating drums of various sizes and shapes

Next, a grand Balinese procession would not be complete without an assortment of flags, spears and poles with ornaments.

Procession at Ulun Danu Keberatan Temple
Balinese carrying an assortment of flags, spears and poles with ornaments

Groups of ladies in colour-coordinated matching Balinese kebayas carried offerings already arranged on trays on their heads.

Procession at Ulun Danu Keberatan Temple
Ladies in colour-coordinated matching kebayas carried offerings

Some of the offerings were quite fancy-looking, with tassels and all.

Procession at Ulun Danu Keberatan Temple
Ladies wearing matching bright pink kebaya tops

Some of the ceremonial offerings were quite elaborate, requiring two to four people to carry them on small litters or mini ‘sedan chairs’.

Procession at Ulun Danu Keberatan Temple
Elaborate ceremonial offerings that require two persons to transport

A few groups of musicians were interspersed with the people carrying offerings.

Procession at Ulun Danu Keberatan Temple
More musicians with drums and cymbals

This particular group of musicians seemed to be a complete traditional gamelan group, and they were actually playing their music while walking! Each gong was transported on a pole carried by two people.

Procession at Ulun Danu Keberatan Temple

The musicians even carried the largest gong. Wow, it looked very heavy!

Procession at Ulun Danu Keberatan Temple

All in all, it was wonderful being able to see the beauty of Balinese culture in action, and we had a blast the whole time we were there.

Other articles I wrote on Bali:
Bali Day 1: Uluwatu
Bali Day 1: Tari Kecak and Fire Dance
Bali Day 2: Ulun Danu Keberatan Temple

Bali Day 1: Uluwatu

I went to Bali in September 2016. However, for this second trip, I brought my parents and brother with me. Bali is one of my favourite places, and I was sure they would like it there too.

Since we touched down in the afternoon, Kadek brought us to the Uluwatu temple complex, because then we could stay till sunset to watch the Tari Kecak, and it was all good. Tari Kecak will be featured in my next blog post. 😉

I took over 600 photos over three days, and here are some of the photos I finally selected from our visit to Uluwatu.

Uluwatu
My favourite photo of Uluwatu 🙂

Uluwatu is such a breathtakingly beautiful place that I just could not stop taking photos. There was a pathway all along the cliff, linking the various temples in the complex, and I walked a long stretch of it. Since our visit coincided with Galungan, the temple complex had more visitors than usual, and was beautifully decorated.

Uluwatu
Up the pathway to the peak in the Uluwatu templex complex

There is a signboard outside the temple complex that says visitors should keep their spectables and other shiny objects such as mobile phones hidden, because the monkeys will steal them. This warning should not be taken lightly. I was wearing my specs while walking near a place where people engaging in ceremonies walked down a tiny steep flight of stairs down the cliff to the beach below. There were a few monkeys there, and one particularly big and fat male just walked towards me on the stone wall and grabbed my specs off my face! There was a large group of caucasians there. Although they were not speaking in English among themselves, they understood me, and started to throw food items at the monkey perched on the wall, until he threw my specs into the bushes behind the wall. Thankfully, my specs were not broken, and I thanked all the people who helped me retrieve it.

Uluwatu
Down the pathway, all along the cliff of Uluwatu

Our trip to Bali conincided with Galungan, which celebrates the victory of dharma over adharma. The festival period stretches over a 10-day period, where a series of Hindu religious ceremonies are performed. Galungan is considered to be a very important festival in Hindu Bali. To read more about the series of Hindu ceremonies performed during Galungan, visit the Galungan ceremonies page of Wonderful Bali.

At Uluwatu temple complex
At Uluwatu temple complex

The specific ceremonial days of the festival start with Tumpek Uduh and end with Tumpek Kuningan. Here is the list of specific ceremonies of Galungan:

  1. Tumpek Uduh
  2. Sugian Pengenten
  3. Sugian Jawa
  4. Sugian Bali
  5. Penyekeban
  6. Penyajaan Galungan
  7. Penampahan Galungan
  8. Galungan Day
  9. Umanis Galungan
  10. Ulihan
  11. Pemacakan Agung
  12. Tumpek Kuningan
Galungan at Uluwatu temple complex
Galungan or penjor kuningan at Uluwatu temple complex

The most obvious sign of the Galungan festival are the penjor – bamboo poles with offerings suspended at the end. These penjor are installed along roads, and at the entrances to temples. Penjor are also called galungan.

Galungan at Uluwatu temple complex
Galungan or penjor kuningan at Uluwatu temple complex

Preparations start at Tumpek Uduh, which is 25 days before Galungan Day, at the Saturday of the 7th week of the Balinese Pawukon calendar, Wariga. Thus, the total length of the ceremony period of Galungan is actually 35 days. This is equivalent to 5 weeks, which is one Balinese month.

Elephant statue at Uluwatu temple complex
Elephant statue at Uluwatu temple complex

There are often two Galungan celebrations per solar year. The Galungan dates for 2015-2017 (as listed in Wikipedia) are as follows:

2015 July 15 July 25
2016 February 10 February 20
2016 September 7 September 17
2017 April 5 April 15
2017 November 1 November 11
Uluwatu
A Caucasian couple dressed in traditional Balinese garb on their way to participate in a ceremony in Uluwatu

To see more 2016-2017 events in Bali, visit Bali Spirit.

Other articles I wrote on Bali:
Bali Day 1: Tari Kecak and Fire Dance
Bali Day 2: Ulun Danu Keberatan Temple