Some of the most important and spectacular of Bali's temples are the sea temples honouring the sea gods. Each sea temple is reputedly visible from the previous one forming a chain around the island. In addition, there are nine directional temples protecting Bali from evil spirits, which are located at auspicious sites from mountainsides to caves and cliff tops.
The 11th century temple Pura Luhur Ulu Watu on the Bukit peninsula in Bali's south is the only temple that is both a sea temple and one of the directional temples. I headed out there last weekend during the three day stopover in Bali I had on my way home and was floored by the beauty of its surroundings.
|Pura Luhur Ulu Watu|
|Gateway flanked by statues of Ganesh, the elephant-headed god|
|The headland immediately south of Ulu Watu|
|One of the wildflowers growing near the cliff face. I'm guessing some kind of milkweed, which is an important food source for the larva of some butterflies, particularly the monarch, and there were some spectacular butterflies around.|
|The headland looking to the north from Ulu Watu|
|This young macaque was fascinated by the hole in the fabric.|
On my earlier visit in June, I visited what is probably the most well-known and most frequently photographed of the sea temples. Pura Tanah Lot is said to have been established in the 15th century by a travelling monk called Nirartha. It is built on a group of rocks at the end of a headland, which becomes an island as the tide comes in.
|The priests give a blessing signified by a few grains of rice on the forehead in return for a small donation.|
Then, on the very next headland, yet another temple Pura Batu Bolong. My fear of heights overruled the temptation to cross the land bridge for a closer look.
Whenever I am lucky enough to return to Bali, I would love to visit more of the sea temples. There are seven important ones, so that's at least five to add to my bucket list. And then there are the directional temples...