Pura Tanah Lot – tourist magnet in Bali
Tanah Lot is one of the main tourist attractions in Bali. The Pura Tanah Lot temple sits enthroned on a small rocky island, just a stone’s throw from the mainland. Especially at high tide, when the waves break on the rocks, the water sprays into the air on all sides and foam sprays up, Tanah Lot (in English: “Land in the Sea”) offers a breathtaking sight. No wonder that the temple is one of Bali’s most popular photo opportunities, especially at sunset.
Popular places to photograph Tanah Lot are the two rock plateaus opposite and the rock cliff a little further north with the temple Enjung Galuh. During high tide and strong surf, there is a considerable risk of slipping and accident on the rocks opposite Tanah Lot!
Tanah Lot Temple can only be reached at low tide
The temple rock itself can only be reached on foot at low tide. The approximately 30-meter long path leads over slippery rock. Devout Hindus may only enter the temple interior with an inner courtyard and five Meru (pagodas). For the majority of tourists, the stairs leading up to the central temple area are the end.
However, if you have ever walked over to the rock island, you should visit the freshwater source in a small cave below the temple. The water is holy and is said to have a healing and cleansing effect. Tourists who drink the water or want to wash their faces with the water must donate a small amount of money.
Sea snakes as temple guardians
It is also worth visiting a second cave called Ular Suci diagonally opposite on the land side. The temple guardians of Tanah Lot have always lived here, two black and white striped, poisonous sea snakes. The snakes are considered sacred and are supervised by priests.
Pura Tanah Lot and its history
Pura Tanah Lot was founded at the beginning of the 16th century by the priest and traveler Dang Hyang Nirartha, who had fled from Java to Bali due to the rapidly spreading Islam. When Nirartha saw a slight rise on one of his travels in western Bali, he followed it and saw a small rocky island from the land. Here he meditated and quickly gathered a crowd of believers around him.
With the meetings, Nirartha drew the anger of the priest who lived and worked there. To avoid further conflicts, Nirartha and his students switched over to the rock island to meditate. Nirartha is said to have drawn two snakes from his temple scarf to protect the new temple.
Protection from demons and ghosts
Like Pura Luhur Uluwatu, Tanah Lot is one of the most crucial sea and state temples in Bali. Sea temples are supposed to protect Bali and its inhabitants from evil spirits and demons. According to the Balinese belief, the spirits and demons – evil – live in the sea, while good – the gods – live on Gunung Agung volcano.
More Bali Temples
Tanah Lot is the main temple of the temple complex of the same name in the southwest of Bali. There are six other temples on the broad area with meadows, flowering shrubs, trees, and circular routes, some of which were built on steep cliffs. Another beautiful photo motif is the Pura Batu Bolong at the end of a rock cliff reaching far into the sea with a large hole in the middle. Other temples on the site include Pura Enjung Galuh and Pura Jro Kandang (both dedicated to the rice goddess Dewi Sri), Pura Batu Mejan, and Pura Pekendungan.
Many Hinduists pray in the temple complex opposite the small rock island, especially at high tide when the main temple Tanah Lot is not accessible on foot. Prayers do not seem to be bothered by the constant flow of tourists. Worth seeing in the temple is the stone Padmasana, decorated with snakes (Nagas). Padmasanas can be found in most Balinese temples. A padmasana also called “lotus throne,” is the seat of honor of the only and almighty god Sang Hyang Widhi Wasa at temple ceremonies.
Tanah Lot - Location and directions
Tanah Lot is located in the southwest of Bali in the Tabanan district and can be reached from Denpasar and Kuta in just over half an hour. You should plan one to one and a half hours to visit the entire temple complex. Visitors who want to take a look at the rocky island with the main temple tossed by the sea should get by with 15 to 20 minutes.
Admission prices and opening times
There is a large parking lot in front of the temple complex, where tickets for Tanah Lot are also available. Adult admission is 60,000 rupiah (4 USD). The 300-meter path from the car park to the Tanah Lot sea temple is paved with shops on both sides. In addition to the usual souvenir and clothing stands, there are also brand shops, coffee bars, and money exchange offices. Tanah Lot is open daily from 8 a.m. to 7 p.m.