Bali is located in Indonesia. What makes Bali unique is that Indonesia is the largest Muslim country in the world and within it lies Bali, the only Hindu island in Indonesia. Bali has an enormous number of temples – estimated at twenty thousand! The island itself is only about 5,000 square kilometers so on average that means 4 temples in every square kilometer (about 0.62 miles).
Each village in Bali has its own Temple of Origins (Pura Puseh), Village Temple (Pura desa) and Temple of the Dead (Pura dalem).
Temples are literally everywhere – on lakes, cliffs, beaches and even volcanoes!
Also, every house has its own small temple, or space dedicated to the gods and to pryers.
The Balinese have a strong attachment to religious rites and ceremonies – and these are important aspects of their daily life. Also, when visiting the temples it is very likely you will run into a religious ceremony too!
I haven’t been to Bali yet, but my friend recently took a tour and the guide indicated these are the most important temples in Bali:
Besakih Temple is considered to be the “mother temple” and the most important temple location in Bali.
It is actually multiple temples that are linked togther so it is known as a temple complex. The most important one is Pura Agung Penataran, which dates back at least to 2,000 years ago.
The temples are located on the slopes of Mount Agung, the highest volcano in Bali.
The impressive staircase leads to the temples passing through a symmetric tower (or candi bentar). And that provides access to the six levels of the temple.
The complex consists of 22 temples, each with its own unique architecture and purpose. The main temple, Pura Penataran Agung, is dedicated to the god Shiva. Other temples in the complex are dedicated to gods and goddesses such as Brahma, Vishnu, and Saraswati.
Pura Besakih is a popular tourist destination for both domestic and international visitors. The temple complex is beautiful and serene, and offers visitors a glimpse into Balinese culture and religion.
Note: Given the intense elevation and number of steps, it is very important that you are able to walk without needing assistance and be sure to wear appropriate shoes.
Pura Luhur Ulu Watu
Pura Luhur Ulu Watu is one of Bali’s most important and sacred temples. The Bukit Peninsula is the extreme southern tip of Bali and famous for its excellent surf breaks and this temple!
The temple is dedicated to the god Vishnu, and is said to be one of the nine directional temples that protect Bali from evil spirits.
The temple honors the spirits of the sea, and is perched on the tip of the south-west of the peninsula, on top of a cliff that falls between the waves. Only Hindu believers are allowed to enter the inner sanctuary that juts out into the sea.
The temple complex consists of several buildings, including a main temple, a courtyard, and a number of smaller shrines. Visitors to Pura Luhur Ulu Watu can expect to see beautiful views of the ocean, as well as learn about Balinese culture and religion.
Insider travel tip: The ocean view is really mystical. It is very impressive to go there at sunset, when a well-known Kecak dance performance takes place.
Pura Tanah Lot
Pura Tanah Lot is one of the most popular tourist destinations in Bali, Indonesia. It is almost impossible to visit Bali and not visit this sacred location!
The temple is situated on a large rock in the middle of the sea, and is a popular spot for sunset photography. Because of its incredibly beautiful setting, it is the most famous, most spiritual and most photographed temple in Bali. The original structure was about to collapse so it was replaced with about one third artificial rock.
Fun Fact – in 1980, Japan donated approximately $180 million dollars to repair the rock face of the temple and help restore other historical locations around Bali.
Tanah Lot is always crowded with tourists and vendors.
Tip: you can only reach the temple at low tide. If you want to escape the tourist crowds, be sure to go early in the morning and definitely before noon.
Pura Ulun Danu Bratan
Pura Ulun Danu Bratan is one of the most important temples in Bali located near Candikuning. The temple is dedicated to the goddess Dewi Danu, who is the goddess of water. And the farmers do ceremonies and rites in her honor to ask for plenty of water for farming.
The temple is surrounded by Lake Bratan, in the town of Bedugul. The temple was built in 1633, and is a beautiful example of Balinese architecture.
The temple is surrounded by lush gardens and has a stunning view of the lake. Pura Ulun Danu Bratan is a popular tourist destination, and is definitely worth a visit when in Bali.
And it should be obvious, but the beautiful setting makes it a popular spot for those that want to get a great Instagrammable picture.
Pura Goa Lawah
This is known as the “Temple of the bat cave.” The temple is very old and of considerable importance to the Balinese people.
This temple is believed to have been created around 1007 by an Indonesian saint.
When the temple was built it didn’t have a name. Its current name was derived from the thousands of bats that cling to the walls and ceiling of the naturally occurring spaces.
Goa means Cave and Lawah means bat, hence Bat Cave as the name!
According to legend, the tunnel is home to a mythical snake king (Vasuki) that wears a crown on his head and it is said he lives on eating the bats in the cave.
Another legend is that healing waters rush through the cave depths and that is why the temple is thought to have special purification and healing properties.
The temple is home to thousands of bats and that definitely makes it stand out!
Here is a picture of them hanging out in the area.
Actually there are lots of bats (that are quite noisy). Also here it is very easy to bump into ceremonies (it happened to me and it was really exciting!).
Pura Luhur Batukau
Located on the slopes of the volcano Gunung Batukau and surrounded by green forests, this is definitely one of the most mystical temples of Bali. It has a Hindu shrine, or mere, with seven roofs dedicated to Maha Dewa, the goddess of the mountain, and altars dedicated to the lakes Bratan, Buyan and Tamblingan.
Insider Travel Tip: Visiting this temple is very pleasant because it is rarely visited by tourists.
Pura Luhur Batukaru is a temple located on Bali’s southern slope of Mount Batukaru, the second highest peak on the island. Built during the 11th century, the temple was dedicated to the ancestors of the rajas of Tabanan.
This Hindu temple situated in the southern slope of Mt Batukaru, the second-highest volcano in Bali. The 11th-century temple was dedicated to the ancestors of the kings of Tabanan, one of seven directional temples there meant to protect Bali from evil spirits.
The temple Pura Luhur Batukaru in Tabanan, Bali, was built on a mountain due south of Bali’s second-highest volcano. Originally constructed in the early 11th century by King Udayana, Pura Luhur Batukaru was a directional temple worshipped by the ancestors of the rajas of Tabanan. Since then, ithas since been destroyed and rebuilt several times. The current temple was rebuilt in 1963, after it was destroyed by an earthquake.
Pura Luhur Batukau is a popular pilgrimage site for Hindus from all over Indonesia and pilgrims come to Pura Luhur Batukau to pray for health and wellbeing, and to make offerings to the gods.
Pura Luhur Batukau is a beautiful and sacred place that should not be missed when visiting Bali. The temple complex is full of intricate details and stunning views, making it an incredibly peaceful and atmospheric place to explore. Whether you are religious or not, Pura Luhur Batukau is definitely worth a visit.
Bali Temples Tours
There are many options if you want to take a tour of these temples. We highly recommend you check them out. It is good to have a guide take you on a custom tour and give you local, expert insights.
Bali Temples Dress Code
Every day, hundreds of Balinese Hindus make the pilgrimage to one of the island’s many temples. While each temple has its own specific dress code, there are some general guidelines that all visitors should follow.
First and foremost, it is important to dress modestly!
This means covering your shoulders and knees, and avoiding tight or revealing clothing. Both men and women should wear shirts that cover shoulders and upper part of the arms. So avoid sleeveless shirts and tank tops.
Second, when visiting Temples in Bali, be sure to be respectful. Remember you are visiting someone’s sacred space.
Third, you will need to remove your shoes before entering the temple, so be prepared for that.