Discover the 11 most beautiful temples to see in Bali

Are you planning to explore the Island of the Gods in Indonesia soon? Discover the 11 most beautiful temples to see in Bali!

Summary

  • 1. Tanah Lot Temple
  • 2. Temple Ulun Danu Bratan
  • 3. Temples Besakih
  • 4. Tirta Empul Temple
  • 5. Luhur Uluwatu Temple
  • 6. Mount Kawi Temple
  • 7. Elephant Cave Temple
  • 8. Temple Kehen
  • 9. Goa Lawah Temple
  • 10. Temple Taman Saraswati
  • 11. Temple Taman Ayun

Bali is the only predominantly Hindu island in western Indonesia. Indeed, the sacred is everywhere on what is nicknamed “the island of the Gods”! There are thousands of temples, nestled at the top of mountains, perched on the edge of cliffs, buried in rice fields or erected in the heart of villages. In Bali, spiritual sites blend into the landscapes of the island and are an integral part of daily life for the Balinese. So, ready to fall under the spell of this bewitching island? Majestic and unmissable, here are the 11 most beautiful temples to see in Bali!

1. Tanah Lot Temple

Tanah Lot Temple, Bali

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The Tanah Lot, or Land in the Sea in Balinese, is none other than the most visited temple on the island. It must be said that the spectacle of the sunset over this temple and its islet is worth the detour! For the record, legend has it that fishermen would have built this sanctuary dedicated to the divinities of the sea at the request of Nirartha , a Javanese priest of the 16th century.

Located on the edge of the Indian Ocean, in the southwest of Bali, Pura ( temple in Indonesian) Tanah Lot is accessible on foot at low tide, or by boat at high tide.

2. Temple Ulun Danu Bratan

Temple Ulun Danu Bratan, Bali

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Erected in the center of Bali, Ulun Danu or Pura Batran is one of the 9 directional temples that protect the island against demons and evil spirits. Bordered by Lake Bratan and surrounded by mountains, Ulun Danu is considered one of Bali’s most iconic and beautiful temples. Moreover, it adorns the Indonesian banknotes of 50,000 rupees. In terms of architecture, Ulun Danu (literally the Beginning of the Lake ) is made up of a meru with 11 roofs – the maximum height – majestically erected on the lake.

Balinese go to Ulun Danu Bratan to worship Dewi Danu, the Goddess of Water. It is also here that they honor the spirit of the sacred volcano, Agung. There is a mystical atmosphere there, hence its place in our ranking of temples to see in Bali!

3. Temples Besakih

Besakih Temples, Bali

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Besakih, the Mother Temple, is a complex of 86 temples dedicated to the great Hindu Trinity. Also, it is one of the largest in Bali. The temples of Besakih rise at the foot of Mount Agung, in the west of the island. So yes, you will have to climb a number of steps on the hillside to find it. But I promise, the view of the valley once at the top is a nice reward!

In terms of spirituality, Besakih is not only the largest temple in Bali, but also the most sacred. And for good reason, the complex regularly hosts large traditional ceremonies. Therefore, it is therefore recommended to get up early to visit it without the crowds.

4. Tirta Empul Temple

Sacred bath, Tirta Empul temple, Bali

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Among the temples to see in Bali, Tirta Empul ( Holy Water ) attracts pilgrims from all over the world who come to bathe in its sacred waters with purifying properties. Here, the Balinese follow the same ritual once a year: place an offering at the main temple, purify body and mind in the basin and pray under one of its 13 fountains. The site also has two other pools and several temples surrounded by lush and verdant nature. You will have the impression of being out of time!

Do you want to go there? Tirta Empul is located in the village of Tampaksiring, close to the town of Ubud , in central Bali.

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5. Luhur Uluwatu Temple

Aerial view of Pura Luhur Uluwatu temple at sunrise, Bali

Photo credit: Shutterstock – RM Nunes

Head to the southern end of the Bukit peninsula to discover another of Bali’s 9 directional temples, built in the 11th century: the Pura Luhur Uluwatu! Its three-storey meru honors the Gods of the Sea, to whom the temple is dedicated. This must-see on the island is perched on the heights of a cliff, facing the Indian Ocean. In other words, the view is simply exceptional, especially at sunset.

Beware : a colony of very mischievous monkeys roam the Luhur Uluwatu temple. Therefore, you should be vigilant and store your belongings and food as much as possible during your visit.

6. Mount Kawi Temple

Temples to see in Bali: Gunung Kawi

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Wondering which are the most beautiful temples to see in Bali? The Gunung Kawi, one of the oldest on the island (11th century), is one of them. This superb temple is also steeped in history since it houses the tombs of the royal family, including that of King Udayana. More than a temple, it is a real archaeological site !

Thus, Gunung Kawi stands out and fascinates with its ten mausoleums carved directly into the rock. Impressive ! Lost in the middle of the rice fields of Tampaksiring and crossed by the Pakerisan river, the way to get there is as pleasant as the visit to the temple itself.

7. Elephant Cave Temple

Fountain at Goa Gajah Temple, Ubud, Bali, Indonesia

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Goa Gajah is a Balinese UNESCO World Heritage Site. This 9th century temple is also known as the Elephant Cave. In particular, you can admire a statue of Ganesh, the God of Wisdom, Intelligence, Education and Prudence. But what impresses the most is the sculpted entrance to this cave which represents a demon’s head opening its mouth.

The temple of Goa Gajah is revealed in an exceptional green setting. Do not miss !

8. Temple Kehen

Temple Kehen, Bali

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Dedicated to death, Pura Kehen was built in terraces on the slope of a hill in the heart of Bali. To get there, you will have to take three stairs that will take you to the top. So, what awaits you at Temple Kehen? Well, a large door, a magnificent meru with 11 roofs and a hundred statues representing characters from the Indian epic Ramayana!

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Some compare Pura Kehen to the imposing Pura Besakih, which is smaller and much less crowded. Like other temples to see in Bali, visiting this one is relatively quick.

9. Goa Lawah Temple

Traditional Balinese Temple - Bat Temple Goa Lawah, Bali, Indonesia

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In the list of the most beautiful temples to see in Bali, we find the Goa Lawah, in the Klungkung region in the east of the island. One of nine directional temples on the island, this site is considered a high place of Balinese Hinduism. In addition, the Goa Lawah temple is divided into three shrines: outer, central and main.

Dug at the foot of a mountain, Goa Lawah includes a temple and a cave that would house thousands of bats. You can also find a statue of a bat encrusted with gold on its central door!

10. Temple Taman Saraswati

Temple Taman Saraswati, Ubud, Bali

Photo credit: Shutterstock – mama_mia

While it is better known as Ubud Palace ( Ubud Palace ), the official name of this impressive complex is actually Pura Taman Kemuda Saraswati. This major Balinese Hindu temple is dedicated to Saraswati, the Goddess of Art and Learning who watches over Ubud. So how not to be seduced by its pond covered with lotus flowers and its sumptuous sculptures?

Good to know : traditional dance performances are regularly organized there. In fact, we can only recommend that you give it a try!

11. Temple Taman Ayun

Taman Ayun Temple, Bali

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Taman Ayun means Beautiful Garden in Balinese, and it must be said that this temple lives up to its name! Surrounded by ponds, trees and some tropical plants, Taman Ayun is truly one of the most beautiful Hindu temples in Bali. You will discover two courtyards connected by a decorated bridge, and temples with traditional Balinese architecture, including a meru with 11 roofs.

To get to this family temple, head to Mengwi, about 15 km west of Ubud town.

As in most spiritual places, there are certain rules to follow when visiting a temple in Bali. In particular, you will need to wear a sarong, a colorful sheet that the Balinese tie around their waist. If you don’t have one on you, you can always buy or rent one at the entrance of each temple.

You now know the most beautiful temples to see in Bali. Bon voyage in the world of Hinduism!

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Mohamed SAKHRI

I am Mohamed SAKHRI, the creator and editor-in-chief of this blog, 'Discover the World – The Blog for Curious Travelers.' Join me as we embark on a journey around the world, uncovering beautiful places, diverse cultures, and captivating stories. Additionally, we will delve into mysterious and, at times, even bizarre destinations.

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