Tanah Lot Temple
From splendid mountains to harsh coastlines to volcanic slopes to white sandy beaches to towns to villages, we would not surprise to find that Bali is known as the island of Gods. As one of the provinces in a Muslim dominated country, Bali offers diverse culture with its own characteristics. The Balinese architecture reveals thousands of Hindu temples in very corner and cranny. Tanah Lot is one of Balinese important temples. As one Bali’s most important landmark, the temple is famed for its picturesque offshore setting and beautiful sunset. Tanah Lot is solely among the list of things-to-do icons in Bali.
In last January, I managed to visit the temple along with Sangeh Monkey Forest and Ulun Danu Beratan Temple (I will write about this temple in the next few weeks). I did my first visit to Tanah Lot like ten years ago with my friend, Aeni. Amazed with its magnificent sunset, I decided to return to witness the beauty that universe could offered. My visit in January that has the same time with Galungan and Kuningan Ceremony gave me another look of the islands during these two holy days. Galungan is Balinese holiday that celebrates the triumph of good over evil. The last day of celebration is Kuningan which took ten days after Galungan started. The most obvious sign of the celebration is the Penjor – functioned as an altar shorts, the bamboo poles that decorate the outside of the entrance of most of Balinese compounds, including the temples. Families offer and brought beautiful sacrifice of food and flowers to the temples, purposed to their ancestral spirits to express their gratitude and hope for protections. I was lucky to witness this occasion.
Tanah Lot is situated in Tabanan, about 20 kilometers from the capital Denpasar, while the temple sits on a large offshore rock that was shaped by the ocean tide over the years. The temple itself was built in the 16th century by Dang Hyang Nirartha during his travels in the island. He took the rest there and some fishermen brought him some gifts. Nirartha spent the whole night on the little island and felt that the island could be a holy place to worship the Balinese sea gods. Later on, he decided to build the shrine on the rock. Influenced by Balinese mythology and Hinduism, the temple has been popular tourist destinations, both locally and internationally. When the tides is low, people could cross the water easily to reach the temple. The temple itself is not opened for visitors, except for the ones who have purpose to pray there. Normally, people wear Balinese traditional clothes during the worship. When I arrived, the place was overcrowded. The place is always busy. But coming at particular holidays made it double crowded with thousands people came to worship.
Despite my luck to watch this beautiful ceremony, I could not catch the perfect sunset due to the heavy rain before I arrived. However, I enjoyed my visit and was glad I went.