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.
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! 🙂
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.
Next, a grand Balinese procession would not be complete without 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.
Some of the offerings were quite fancy-looking, with tassels and all.
Some of the ceremonial offerings were quite elaborate, requiring two to four people to carry them on small litters or mini ‘sedan chairs’.
A few groups of musicians were interspersed with the people carrying offerings.
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.
The musicians even carried the largest gong. Wow, it looked very heavy!
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.
Ulun Danu Beratan Temple is a postcard-perfect-looking water temple located on the shore of Lake Beratan, near Bedugul, 1,200 m above sea level. As it is located at a high altitude, it has a cool and invigorating climate. Lake Beratan is known as the Holy MountainLake due to the fertility of the area.
Ulun Danu Beratan Temple is a major Shivaite and water temple of Bali, built in 1633. This temple is used for offering ceremonies to Dewi Danu, the Balinese goddess of water, lake and river.
The temple was built on the shore of Lake Beratan due to the lake being a main source of water for irrigation in central Bali. An 11-storey pelinggih meru was dedicated to Shiva and his consort Parvathi.
The Ulun Danu Beratan Temple is also featured on the 50,000-rupiah banknote. A definite icon of Bali, this place. 🙂
There are several types of temple or pura in Bali. They each serve certain functions in Balinese rituals according to the Balinese calendar. The temples are arranged according to the physical and spiritual realm of Balinese people, from the mountain tops, which are the realms of gods, to the middle fertile plains, which are the realm of humans, and the beaches and oceans, which are the realm of sea deities and demons.
Pura kahyangan jagad are built high up upon mountain or volcano slopes. The mountains are considered as the sacred realm, the abode of gods or hyang spirits.
Pura tirta are the water temples. Besides their religious function, they also serve a water management function as a part of the irrigation system. Pura Ulun Danu Beratan and Pura Taman Ayun (which I also visited) belong to this category.
Pura desa are located within villages or cities. They are dedicated to the worship of Brahma. They are used for the official celebrations of the village community.
Pura puseh are dedicated to the worship of Vishnu, and the ancestors of the village.
Pura dalem are dedicated to the worship of Shiva, and the place of cremation.
Pura mrajapati is dedicated to the worship of prajapati (the lord of people) or the cosmic might. Usually, Shiva is worshipped in his form as prajapati in this temple.
Pura segara are located by the sea to appease the sea deities. Pura Tanah Lot and Pura Uluwatu belong in this category. I visited both during this trip. 😀
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.
There are two types of temple gates in Balinese architecture. The first type is the candi bentar or split gate, and the second type is the paduraksa or kori agung, which is a roofed tower gate.
The two types of gates have different roles. Candi bentar is the gate used in the nista mandala, while the kori agung is used as the gate between the madya mandala and utama mandala inner compounds. These types of gates can also be used for non-religious compounds such as puri, nobles’ and kings’ residences.
A close-up shot of the intricate carvings on the door of the kori agung is shown below.
The Balinese temple or pura is designed as a place of worship in an open-air space within enclosed walls, unlike the typical Indian Hindu temple, which has an indoor worship space. The Balinese temple is divided into three mandala zones or compounds, arranged according to a hierarchy, and connected by a series of beautifully decorated gates (source: Wikipedia):
Nista mandala (jaba pisan) is the outer zone. It is usually an open field or a garden that can be used for religious dance performances, or preparations during religious festivals. It directly connects the temple compound with the outer realm, and the entrance to the temple.
Madya mandala (jaba tengah) is the middle zone of the temple. It is the area where pavilions, such as the bale kulkul (wooden slit drum tower), bale gong (gamelan pavilion), wantilan (meeting pavilion), bale pesandekan, and bale perantenan, the temple’s kitchen, are located. It is where the activity of adherents takes place, and also the location for supporting facilities of the temple.
Utama mandala (jero) is the holiest and the most sacred zone within the pura. This enclosed and typically highest of the compounds usually contains a padmasana, the towering lotus throne of the highest god, Acintya (the Sang Hyang Widhi Wasa, or ‘All-in-one God’, in modern Balinese), the pelinggih meru (a multi-tiered tower-shrine), and several pavilions, such as bale pawedan (vedic chanting pavilion), bale piyasan, bale pepelik (offering pavilion), bale panggungan, bale murda, and gedong penyimpenan (storehouse of the temple’s relics).