Important Balinese temples

Bali has thousands of temples, when you take into account the major temples, village and family temples. For a newcomer it can be hard to get grip of what the temples stand for and how important they are.

Directional temples
Bali has 9 kahyangan jagat (directional temples) which protect the island from evil spirits. These are:
Pura Besakih on the western slopes of Gunung Agung in East Bali
Pura Goa Lawah on the main road near Padangbai in East Bali
Pura Lempuyang on the slopes of Gunung Lempuyang near Amlapura in East Bali
Pura Luhur Batukaru on the southern slopes of Gunung Batukaru in Central Bali
Pura Luhur Uluwatu on the western end of the Bukit peninsula
Pura Masceti on the south coast close to Ketewel
Pura Pasar Agung on southern the slopes of Gunung Agung in East Bali
Pura Ulun Danu Bratan at Bedugal in the Central highlands
Pura Ulun Danu Batur at Kintamani in the eastern highlands

Some of these temples are very popular with tourists, some such as Pura Luhur Uluwatu staging temple dances and other such as Pura Besakih becoming a virtual tourist trap. Still there are directional temples that are rarely visited by tourists including Pura Lempuyang, Pura Masceti and Pura Pasar Agung.

All of the directional temple occupy auspicious locations, such as the side of a mountain, cave or cliff top. Bali also has a set of ‘sea temples’ which were built in the 16th century by a Hindi monk from Java named Nirartha. These sea temples are found on the western coast of Bali and include:




Pura Gede Perancak on the south coast of west Bali
Pura Rambut Siwi on the south coast of west Bali
Pura Tanah Lot on the south coast of Bali near Canggu
Pura Luhur Uluwatu on the western end of the Bukit peninsula (a directional temple)
Pura Masuka on the extreme southern tip of the Bukit peninsula
Pura Sakenan on Serangan island close to Sanur
Pura Pulaki on the north coast of west Bali near Pemuteran

Other unique and important temples include:
Pura Beji in north Bali which is dedicated to Dewi Sri the Goddess of the rice fields
Pura Dalem Pentaran Ped located on Nusa Penida and is specially for protecting the island against the evil Jero Gede Macaling
Pura Kehen in Bangli East Bali
Pura Meduwe Karang in north Bali featuring a stoe carving of a man on a bicycle
Pura Pusering Jagat located close to Ubud and featuring a massive bronze drum.
Pura Taman Ayun in Mengwi close to Denpasar featuring massive moats and temple structures
Pura Tirta Empul in Tampaksiring with watersprings and bathing pools.

The temples mentioned above belong to the whole island and Balinese people will travel long distances from their village to pray there. Each village has 3 main temples which are:
Pura Puseh (temple of the village founders)
Pura Desa (the village temple)
Pura Dalem (temple of the dead)

These temples are the sites for village ceremonies such as cremations and larger festivals such as Galungan. Family temples are the small shrines seen in villager’s compounds, where daily prayers and offerings are given. Driving around Bali you will find many impressive temples not even mentioned on this list. You may be allowed to enter some. Be sure to wear a sarong and sash and observe all signs regarding temple rules.

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