Visiting Pura Tanah Lot Temple

Cradled in an ethereal ocean spray and located only a few yards from the rocky shores of Bali, on the western coast sits the epically breathtaking Pura Tanah Lot Temple. The temple is one of the most sought out destinations on the island. Travelers and locals alike are drawn to the ancient offshore sanctuary, mesmerized by Tanah Lot’s incontestable beauty.

The Pura Tanah Lot Temple itself is built on a rock that is only reachable by foot when the tide is low. When the tide is high the temple appears to be an island all its own. The sunset view from Tanah Lot is one of the most spectacular and sought after experiences amongst sightseers from all over the world.

The Tanah Lot Temple actually consists of two temples etched from the seascape and bedrock. One temple is nestled into the lower portion of the rock’s surface, the other crowns the peak. Pura Tanah Lot Temple gets its name from the old Balinese meaning ‘Temple in the Sea” and was originally used to worship the ancient gods of the water.

Pura Tanah Lot Temple at Night

Pura Tanah Lot Temple at Night

According to legend the pilgrims’ temple of Tanah Lot is said to have been first erected in the 16th century by a traveling Brahman who was moving through the Majapahit Kingdom. He was called Danghyang Nirartha and his mission was to strengthen the faith of the Balinese locals. Upon seeing Tanah Lot, he was struck with the natural beauty of such a place and decided to stay the night. Fisherman traveled out to him and laid gifts about him. Meanwhile the stationary ruler of Tanah Lot, Bendesa Beraben, grew jealous of Nirartha’s growing number of followers and ordered him to leave Tanah Lot. In the morning he told the people that the place was a holy place, he had been told so in a dream. With his strength, aided by the gods, Nirartha pushed the rock into the center of the coastline and told the people that a temple should be built here and dedicated to the gods of the sea. Before his departure from Tanah Lot, Nirartha tossed his scarf into the sea and it transformed into a large striped sea snake.

The site of the temple is said to be protected by these stunning creatures to this day. Supposedly the marine animals guard against evil spirits and harmful trespassers. From certain vantage points on the three acre rock base, the surrounding reef is visible and it is from here that onlookers may catch of glimpse of the black and white sea snakes who call the reef their home along with a vast array of other exotic marine life.

As you make your way around the exquisite islet, you will undoubtedly stumble upon the tiny little offerings hidden all over the island. They seem to materialize as if by magic and these are only small fragments of the larger tapestry, the mix of colors and textures that make Bali so unique.

When visiting Tanah Lot be sure to check your calendar for special events. While, during the day, the island is home to more than a few local shops and vendor markets, the night is not to be missed either! There are many annual events, dances, and festivals at Tanah Lot. Full moon ceremonies and temple rites are performed in full view after sunset and all are welcome to attend.

A visit to Indonesia is not complete without watching the sun set over Tanah Lot but there are other wonders to behold in Bali. The temple and Tanah Lot is one of seven sea temples built, each within sight of the last so as to form a chain up the western coast. So whether you are there to take in the mystic historical sites or to simply indulge in exotic pleasures, such as a massage on the beach or a visit to a sybaritic spa, your visit to the Pura Tanah Lot Temple is one that you and your loved ones will not soon forget.

photo credit: BigStockPhoto/lkunl

Creative Commons Licensephoto credit: Flickr/