ULUWATU TEMPLE IS BALINESE HINDU TEMPLE SITS ON 70 METER HIGH CLIFF PROTRUDING ABOVE INDONESIAN OCEAN
Uluwatu Temple is located in Pecatu Village, Kuta Sub-district, Badung District, Bali. The temple is 30 kilometers to the south of Denpasar. Uluwatu Temple, also called Luwur Temple, is one of the six Sad Kahyangan Temples, the main spiritual pillars in Bali Island.
There are two different opinions concerning the history of Uluwatu Temple. Some people believe that the temple was built by Empu Kuturan in 9th AD, during Marakata’s reign. Meanwhile, other people claim that the temple was built by Dang Hyang Nirartha, a pedanda (Hindu monk) from Daha Kingdom (Kediri) in East Java. Dang Hyang Nirartha came to Bali in 1546 AD, during the reign of Dalem Waturenggong. The monk built Uluwatu Temple on Pecatu Hill. After completing a spiritual journey around Bali, the monk went back to Uluwatu Temple and died there. He moksa (died and his body vanished), leaving the Marcapada (worldly life) and entering Swargaloka (heaven). The Piodalan or ceremony commemorating the temple’s anniversary is held on Anggara Kasih day, in wuku Medangsia in Caka calendar. Usually the ceremony lasts for three days thronged by of thousands of Hindus.
Uluwatu Temple sits on a 70-meter-high cliff protruding above Indonesian Ocean. Because of its unique location, visitors to the temple have to take a long stone stairway to reach it. The temple heads east, unlike other Balinese temples which face west or south. There are hundreds of monkeys roaming along the path outside the temple. Although the monkeys look tame, visitors find them a nuisance as they often grab food off a visitor’s hand and snatch visitors’ belongings. There are two doors at the end of the path, the north door and the south one, through which visitors enter the temple complex.
The entrance doors take the shape of stone Bentar gates. Standing across from each gate, there are two statues of elephant-headed men. The front part of the gate is decorated with fine relief sculpture picturing leaves and flowery patterns. Behind the gate, there are stone steps that lead to the inner court. Along the steps, trees are grown to provide shade.
A small forest lies at the front and hundreds of monkeys dwell here. They are believed to guard the temple from bad influences. The serpentine pathway to the temple is fortified by concrete walls on the cliff side. It takes about an hour to get from one end to another as there are several fenced points along the way to stop. The views from the bottom of the water surging up against rocks and the ocean horizon are remarkable.
The Balinese Hindus believe that the three divine powers of Brahma, Vishnu, and Siva become one here. That belief results in making Uluwatu Temple a place of worship of Siva Rudra, the Balinese Hindu deity of all elements and aspects of life in the universe. Uluwatu Temple is also dedicated to protect Bali from evil sea spirits. The inner court is an open space paved with stone floor. There is a wooden building near the north gate. To the west, across from the entrance path, there is a Paduraksa Gate that opens the path into the next inner court. Unlike the ones found outside, this stone gate is completed with roof. The door is an arch framed with an arrangement of stones. There is a sculpture of a giant head above the frame. The top of the gate looks like a crown and it is decorated with relief sculpture. The gaps between the gate and the walls are filled with a surface full of relief sculpture. There is a small rectangular court to the south that stretches out above the sea. There is a wooden construction at the end of the court that seems to be a place where people can sit and watch the ocean. Uluwatu Temple has undergone several restorations. In 1999, a lightning struck the temple and caused fire.
Every six months according to the Balinese 210-day Pawukon cycle, big temple anniversary celebrations are held at the temple. The temple’s keeper, the royal family of Jro Kuta from Denpasar, are patrons for the event.
Precautionary signs warn visitors of the monkeys grabbing attractive items such as sunglasses and cameras. However, they can be calmer when approached with peanuts or bananas, lending an opportunity to retake stolen possessions.
There hasn’t been any significant erosion on the shoreline underneath the temple’s towering cliff. Believers regard it as a manifestation of the divine power that protects Uluwatu Temple. Public facilities are available, but not in the temple area. Unlike some other tourist destinations in Bali, Pura Uluwatu area has limited amounts of hassling vendors.
Visitors must wear a sarong and a sash, as well as appropriate clothes common for temple visits. They can be hired here. The best time to visit is just before sunset. A Kecak dance is performed everyday at the adjacent cliff-top stage at 18:00 to 19:00. Visitors are charged a nominal fee. What makes it the most favourite venue to watch a Kecak dance is the sunset background of the performance.
There’s no public transportation to get here and going back in to town will be difficult without any prearranged ride or taxi. A guide is not necessary, though helpful. The service offered is hassle-free at very minimum prices.