Many claim that there are actually more temples than homes in Bali. Strictly speaking, many temples are really shrines but the number of religious compounds in Bali is said to be over 10,000 and the number is spread throughout the far-flung corners of the island, from mountain and hilltops to low-lying coastal areas.
Normally peaceful and uninhabited, Bali’s temples transform into scenes of great activity and are ornately decorated during festivals and temple anniversaries with traditional dance performances, cockfighting and gambling. You’ll find that each of Bali’s temples is unique and that they either face towards the mountains, the sea or towards sunrise.
Most Popular Temples in Bali
All Temples in Bali
Batukaru Temple, referred to by locals as Pura Luhur Batukaru, is one of Bali’s key temples, located at the foot of namesake Mount Batukaru. At an altitude of 2,270m above sea level on the second highest peak in Bali after Mount Agung, the temple is surrounded by cool natural forests, providing a pleasant sightseeing stopover for nature lovers.
Moreover, the island’s most impressive expanse of rice paddies, Jatiluwih, is within a two-kilometre drive from the temple, making popular stopovers on excursions to Bali’s central highlands. Read More...
- Location: Jalan Pura Batukaru, Penebel Village, Tabanan
Besakih Temple, known as Bali’s ‘Mother Temple’ for over 1,000 years, sits 1,000 metres high on the southwestern slopes of Mount Agung. Besakih is an artistic and unique complex that comprises at least 86 temples which include the main Pura Penataran Agung (the Great Temple of State) and 18 others.
Besakih is the biggest and holiest of the island's temples and is surrounded by breathtaking and scenic rice paddies, hills, mountains, streams, and more. Read More...
- Opening Hours: 08:00 – 17:00, but it is actually open 24 hours as it is a place of worship
- Location: in Besakih Village, Rendang Sub-district, Karangasem District
- Remarks: Taking along local companions outside the official hours is highly recommended
- How to get there: From Sanur, take the Kusamba Bypass to Klungkung. Head north through Klungkung and take the right-hand turn at Menanga to get to Besakih. The journey from Sanur shouldn’t take longer than two-and-a-half hours.
Goa Gajah’s name is slightly misleading, lending the impression that it’s a gigantic dwelling full of elephants. Nevertheless, Goa Gajah ‘Elephant Cave’ is an archaeological site of significant historical value that makes it a special place to visit. Located on the cool western edge of Bedulu Village, six kilometres out of central Ubud, you do not need more than an hour to descend to its relic-filled courtyard and view the rock-wall carvings, a central meditational cave, bathing pools and fountains. Read More...
- Opening Hours: Mon – Sun, 08:00 - 16.00
- Location: Bedulu Village, Jalan Raya Goa Gajah, Blahbatuh, Gianyar
- How to get there: Go east from Ubud approximately 3km towards Jalan Raya Goa Gajah
Garuda Wisnu Kencana, or GWK for short, is the name of a cultural park on Bali’s hilly southern coast famous for the ongoing construction of a gigantic statue of Vishnu riding on the back of a ‘garuda’ (a supernatural eagle-like being). The completed part of the statue is of the upper part of Vishnu’s body, the head of the ‘garuda’ and Vishnu’s hands.
The cultural park has become one of the favourite places in Bali for art and cultural performances, exhibitions, and conferences. GWK, once completed at 145 metres, will be one of the world’s tallest statues and erected on the top of the hill, with a magnificent panorama of Bali. Read More...
- Opening Hours: 08:00 – 22:00
- Location: Garuda Wisnu Kencana Cultural Park is located in Jalan Raya Uluwatu, Ungasan village, South Kuta sub-district, Badung district. It is about 15 to 20 minutes from Kuta, on the road from Jimbaran to Dreamland Beach, Uluwatu.
Gunung Kawi Sebatu Temple, locally referred to as Pura Tirta Dawa Gunung Kawi Sebatu, is a special find for visitors to Central Bali. It is one of the least visited temple complexes on the island Bali, yet is one of the most beautiful and tranquil. It features verdant gardens around ponds filled with carp and blooming lotuses, and ancient shrines surrounded by crystal clear pools fed by natural springs.
The temple complex is located within the highland village of Sebatu in Tegallalang, Gianyar, approximately 12km northeast from the main Ubud hub. Tickets are IDR 15,000 for adults and half for children. Read More...
- Location: Sebatu Village, Tegallalang, Gianyar (12.8km north of Ubud)
Lempuyang Temple, locally referred to as Pura Lempuyang Luhur, is one of Bali’s oldest and most highly regarded temples, on par with Besakih (aka the ‘mother temple’ of Bali). It is also believed to predate the majority of Hindu temples on the island. Definitely a highlight on any travel itinerary for the fit and adventurous, the main temple lies at 1,175m above sea level, up on the peak of the namesake Mount Lempuyang in East Bali.
The heights are reachable via a steep staircase of over 1,700 steps, with attractions along the way including several other temples and hordes of grey long-tailed macaques that inhabit the surrounding cool mountain forests. Read More...
Pura Blanjong was built as a cenotaph of Sri Kesari Warmadewa and commemorates his journey to the east. Sri Kesari himself was a Syailendra descendant (a Buddhist-ruled dynasty which ruled Java) and the founder of an architectural wonder, Borobudur Temple. According to the Blanjong inscription dated 914 A.D. Sri Kesari was a Buddhist apostle who soon established a Mahayana convent at Blanjong village. Along with the inscription, 15 metres northwest, is a Ganesha statue (the elephant-headed son of Shiva). Pura Blanjong is characterised by its coral instead of brick wall and twin sitting calf statues inside, sadly from which both heads have been removed. Apart from being one of the most sacred temples, Pura Blanjong shows you things of architectural and archeological interest.
- Location: Sanur Beach
Pura Penataran Sasih
Pura Penataran Sasih is situated six kilometres northwest of Gianyar and two kilometres north of Pejeng. It is also known as ‘The Moon Temple’ and derived its name from an ancient bronze kettle drum (or nekara) called ‘Moon of Pejeng’ which is now kept in its inner chamber. It is the largest bronze kettle in Southeast Asia at about two metres in length and allegedly dates from 300 BC. The design is associated with the Dong Son culture of Southern China and Northern Vietnam of around 1500 BC. This highly valued and ornate gong is in the shape of an hourglass and is beautifully engraved: it is regarded as Indonesia’s most important Bronze-Age antique.
- Location: East of Ubud in Gianyar Regency
Although Pura Petitenget (found at the T-junction on Jalan Petitenget) is not as big and as popular as Bali’s other major temples of Pura Besakih, Pura Uluwatu and Pura Ulun Danu, it is famous for its legend. This temple is believed by Hindus to be one of nine pillars known as 'Kayangan Jagat', temples of nine wind eyes built in the 11th Century by Empu Kuturan (a Javanese Sage) who came to Bali bringing religious law and the formation of traditional villages.
The nine eyes are also believed to protect the island from southward threats through their intricate positioning. Another story relates that Pura Petitenget is known as the Temple of the Secret Box – a name inherited when a holy man from Java arrived in Bali intending to teach the Balinese community about good manners. He brought a box and accidentally left it behind when he returned to Java. The Balinese people, in fearfulness of the holy man, dared neither to touch nor open it, and so decided to build a temple around it. It’s your choice to either believe it or not, but be sure to stop by this temple on special occasions and holy days: you’ll witness a spectacular ceremony here.
- Location: Jalan Petitenget, Seminyak
Pura Samuan Tiga
Samuan Tiga Temple is strategically located set back a little from the main road between Ubud and Tampaksiring, and used to be one of the most popular tourist destinations. This sacred temple was the royal temple of the Udayana Warmadewa dynasty (a Balinese King who ruled in the 10th century). Samuan Tiga means three (tiga) meetings (samuan) and the temple is assumed to be the venue for the great meeting between Gods, deities and saints.
Pura Samuan Tiga offers unique architecture and a stunning view, flanked by two rivers, the Pande and Tegending, on the east side and the remains of an ancient pool on the west side, with sacred Banyan, Pule and Curiga trees growing around the site. The temple has seven courtyards separated by walls and split gates, but connected by stairs leading up to the innermost courtyard, believed to be the meeting hall of three holy spirits.
This stunning architecture and history provides the annual stage for the oldest Balinese Hindu ritual. Siat Sampian (sampian wars) takes place during the 10th full moon (in Balinese called Purnama Kadasa, it falls every April) and normally lasts from 06:00 to approximately 13:00. The 'war' is performed by over 200 males and dozens of females, who attack each other using young-coconut leaf arrangements called sampian. Make sure you don’t miss this unique amazing ritual while you’re here for holiday in April.
- Location: Between Ubud and Tampaksiring
Sakenan Temple or ‘Pura Sakenan’ as referred to by locals, is an important temple in the southern region of Bali, perched on the north-western shore of Serangan Island, a small island located 10km south of Denpasar.
Once strong for its unique feature of pilgrimages during the 210-day piodalan temple anniversary celebrations with processions leading to the Serangan Island on foot or by traditional wooden boats, reclamations in the 90s have changed the ways, as well as the natural landscape of the island. Read More...
- Location: south Denpasar, into the road opposite LotteMart on Jalan Bypass Ngurah Rai from Sanur
Taman Ayun Temple is a landmark in the village of Mengwi, Badung regency, located 17km northwest of Denpasar. This temple complex boasts magnificent traditional architectural features throughout its courtyards and enclosures as well as expansive garden landscapes comprised of lotus and fish ponds.
The temple was built circa 1634 by the then ruler of the Mengwi kingdom, Tjokerda Sakti Blambangan, with Chinese architectural inspirations, and underwent a significant restoration project in 1937. Towering tiers from the temple shrines make up most of the profile of Taman Ayun and are a gesture of the people of Mengwi’s reverence to their deified noble ancestors, for the temple complex is considered the ‘mother temple’ of Mengwi.
The Taman Ayun Temple was to serve as a main site of worship among the Mengwi people who need not travel too far to the main large temples, the likes of the Besakih ‘mother temple’ in Karangasem, Batukaru Temple in Tabanan, or Batur Temple in Kintamani. It also served as a unifying symbol among the Mengwi royalty and the people. Read More...
- Opening Hours: 09:00-16:00
- Location: Village of Mengwi, Badung regency, approximately 17km northwest from Denpasar.
- How to get there: Follow the main road north from Denpasar along the common Jalan Kapal thoroughfare towards Bedugul. Upon reaching Mengwi, the landmark can’t be missed.
Temples in Kuta Beach
Kuta does not have a popular main temple to visit, but sprinkled along the main road you can find regular temples worth a peek at during your holiday here. Positioned on Jalan Pantai Kuta you’ll find Pura Batu Bolong; on Kuta Sidewalk is Pura Penataran; and on Kuta Beach a few metres east from the main gate is Pura Kalangan Majelangu. Every morning and late afternoon right after sunset, the Balinese who live in the neighbourhood come here to pray and present offerings.
The temple is busy only on special occasions during holy days and ceremonies such as Melasti: three or four days prior to Nyepi (the day of silence that falls on Bali’s Lunar New Year), the Balinese gather to send prayers and offerings to Sanghyang Widhi/Vishnu-Devas-Bataras on the beach to respect them as the owners of the land and sea.
- Location: Kuta Beach
Tirta Empul is an important temple complex and holy mountain spring, located in the village of Manukaya in central Bali. The site serves as a legendary setting of a traditional tale about good versus evil. It is also a national cultural heritage site.
The complex, built circa 960 AD, is also a silent witness to the old Balinese kingdom years, particularly at the time of the Warmadewa Dynasty. Another nearby and prominent site on top of a hill is the presidential palace, Istana Tampaksiring, built during the years of the nation’s first president, Soekarno.
Tirta Empul, meaning ‘holy water spring’ is actually the name of a water source located within the temple. The spring feeds various purification baths, pools and fish ponds surrounding the outer perimeter, which all flow to the Tukad Pakerisan River. Various sites throughout the region and many other archaeological relics relate to local myths and legends. Read More...
- Opening Hours: 09:00 – 17:00
- Location: Manukaya village, district of Tampaksiring, Gianyar, central Bali.
The Ulun Danu Beratan Temple is both a famous picturesque landmark and a significant temple complex located on the western side of the Beratan Lake in Bedugul, central Bali. The whole Bedugul area is actually a favorite cool upland weekend and holiday retreat for locals and island visitors alike from the southern and urban areas, as it is strategically located, connecting the island’s north and south.
Ulun Danu Beratan, literally ‘the source temple of Lake Beratan’, is easily the island’s most iconic sanctuary sharing the scenic qualities with the seaside temples of Uluwatu and Tanah Lot. The smooth reflective surface of the lake surrounding most of the temple’s base creates a unique floating impression, while the mountain range of the Bedugul region encircling the lake provides the temple with a scenic backdrop. Read More...
- Opening Hours: 08:00–18:00
- Location: Ulun Danu Beratan is located on the western lakeside of the Beratan Lake in the village of Candi Kuning highland region of Bedugul, Tabanan Regency.
Uluwatu Temple, or Pura Luhur Uluwatu, one of six key temples believed to be Bali's spiritual pillars, is renowned for its magnificent location, perched on top of a steep cliff approximately 70 metres above sea level. This temple also shares the splendid sunset backdrops as that of Tanah Lot Temple, another important sea temple located in the island's western shores.
Pura Luhur Uluwatu is definitely one of the top places on the island to go to for sunset delights, with direct views overlooking the beautiful Indian Ocean and daily Kecak dance performances. Balinese architecture, traditionally-designed gateways, and ancient sculptures add to Uluwatu Temple's appeal. Read More...
- Opening Hours: 09:00 – 18:00. As a place of worship however, it is open 24 hours daily.
- Location: Pura Uluwatu is located in Pecatu Village, Kuta sub-district, Badung regency, about 25km south of Kuta and it usually takes around one hour to get to and from there.
- How to get there: Take the bypass main road to Nusa Dua and to Jimbaran and then follow the ascending road up to Uluwatu.
Vihara Dharmayana Kuta temple stands majestically as one of the very few cultural landmarks Hidden amid Kuta’s traffic frenzy and surfing paradise glamour. This age-old Chinese Buddhist temple was one of the various Buddhist sites in Bali visited by Tibet’s 14th Dalai Lama, Tenzin Gyatso, on his international tour in 1982 so it certainly has pedigree.
Located only a kilometre east from Kuta’s main coastal strip, Vihara Dharmayana Kuta is often referred to by the locals as ‘Kongco Leeng Gwan Kuta’, or simply ‘Kongco Kuta’. Slightly inconspicuous due to its location on a corner of Jalan Blambangan, a one-way route usually congested with traffic, the temple’s bright red walls and murals can easily be spotted by taking a leisurely stroll around the area. Read More...
- Opening Hours: 09:00 – 20:00
- Location: Jalan Blambangan, Kuta
- Tel: +62 (0)361 762 362