Monday, July 02, 2018

Pura Tirta Empul

Look at the astonishing ornate stone work - Babes in the front yard of Tirta Empul
Our next stop in  Bali on the second day of setting foot in the beautiful land of Gods was yet another Hindu Balinese temple which is known as Holy spring water Temple aka Pura Tirta Empul.

Rich in its heritage this temple also had opulent stone artwork reminding us of the culture, practices and the age-old Balinese kingdoms that ruled Bali.  

This temple was built around 960 AD and is a national cultural heritage site.  And there was so much water and water sources in this temple that, unequivocally did justice to the name of the temple.

Like every other temple in Bali, Pura Tirta Empul, also had a Split Gateway also called as the Candi Bentar.  This is a classical Balinese Gateway, split perfectly into two, symmetrically,  creating a passage for people to walk through.  We must have seen hundreds of these split Gateways all through our travel in Bali and we have taken so many pictures in front of them.  The Candi Bentar is usually in an elevated place with a flight of stairs taking the people to it and acts as an boundary between the outer world and the inner realm of an Hindu temple.
The four of us with Tirta Empul's Candi Bentar in the background
This temple had stricter dress codes for both men and women, and we were instructed to tie our hair, ( we were strictly not allowed to open out our hair, however short it was and they provided us with bands that helped us tie our hair)  and we had to wear a traditional wrap, as you see in the pictures,  around our lower body,  which all of us liked so much, and it was called “Karmen”.  Just like a Sarong, this one is more ornate. Women during their periods are not allowed into the temple and they can only be in the outer perimeter of the temples.
The four of us again - Zig Zag posing ( notice all of us adhering to the dress codes of the temple?)
The sculpted water spouts used for purification
After adorning ourselves with the Karmen and tying up our hair, We walked through lush gardens with tropical plants, to the entrance and passed through the Candi Bentar. 

As is common with Balinese temples, Pura Tirta Empul had three complexes, the front courtyard, the central and the inner courtyard.  The front courtyard is a vast walled one, welcoming us to the bathing pools.  The central courtyard has a rectangular purification bath, with 13 elaborately sculpted spouts, that line the edge of the wall.  We saw numerous  foreigners who had their hands pressed together solemnly offering prayers and bowing under the gushing water spouts starting from 1 to 11.  The last two are meant for purification purposes in funerary rites. ( Thanks to our Guide Kevin, we would get these inputs intermittently).

The water was crystal clear and the ground of the tank was layered with pebbles and it was such a pleasant sight. It was a hot day and though we were tempted to get down into the water, in the purifying tank, we held our horses, as we didn’t have much time to change and we had a long day ahead and a lot more places to cover.
Sudha during  her purification process

This is where Sudha started chanting mantras and she purified herself by sprinkling some water on her head, while we all watched the foreigners (mostly westerners) in awe at their sincerity in prayers. There were groups of them who had a Hindu priest (obviously!) with them and were chanting prayers religiously. Oh not just that – we also clicked some pictures of some westerners who had elaborate colourful tattoos on their entire upper bodies.

Look at that elaborate and artistic Tattooed body!
Curative  holy water spring!
The water here is supposedly curative and  purifying and we also went to the inner courtyard that also has a ground water spring which kept spewing water gently and deliberately that it created nice water ripples that we could watch. This bubbling spring was totally walled and we had to see from a distance, but the view was worth it. Never seen an active underwater spring before.

Falling in love with the Gargoyles of Bali.
Pura Tirta Empul also has a Presidential palace to its right and somehow the modern concrete structure, albeit its beauty, didn’t sync with the traditional ambiance and  architecture of the temple.  Thankfully the presidential palace was on the right side, on a higher plane and was unobtrusive to the temple view from wherever we were.

I realised, every temple visit in Bali, expanded my perspective of religion, and helped me broaden my horizons about the oneness of the concept of God.


  1. Suyambu4:38 AM

    Nice blog Vincy... temples in Thailand also follow some strict dress where ladies are asked to wear the Karmen and gents are not allowed to wear shorts or burmuda.

    Since you mentioned about the periods...Contrary to the shaming treatment that menstruation gets elsewhere in India, there is a famous temple named Kamakhya Devi (also called as "Bleeding Goddess") temple in Assam where it is revered as the ability of a woman to conceive. It is one of the Shakti peeths. you can google about this temple to know more. I had visited this temple many times during my childhood when I was in Assam. It used to be fun climbing the Nilachal hill to visit this temple and then take a bus on return journey after grabbing hot samosas from the nearby shops...

    1. I am glad you like the post.

      During our visit to Bangkok Buddha temple, we didn't wear a Sarong. Maybe because the city is more cosmopolitan.

      Yes, I have heard about Kamakhya Devi temple in Assam through a friend who visited that place. Probably, the only one of its kind in the country.

  2. Fascinating. I knew nothing about how the Hindu temples in Bali have evolved and the practices there.

    Interesting that you found many obvious non Hindus praying there. The truly religious don't care which religion's holy place it is. A holy place is a holy place for anybody.

    1. completely agree with you on that about you can pray anywhere. A holy place it is and has to be revered, which ever religion you belong to.

      Infact, these writing these posts are acting as therapy for me these days and help me manage the stress.

      And yeah, I really do look forward to your comments. I realised its not your other blogger fans. :-) :-)

      Thank you for being there.

  3. Jayashree4:46 AM

    Such a beautiful post on our travel, Vincy. Had an excellent feeling of peace travelling with you, Sudha, Rosy once again thru' the blog (more than when we were these ;-)) Yes. It was definitely a holy experience visiting the temple and touching the holy water. You missed to mention about the coconut water & 20,000 bucks we spent on it :-)

    1. The tender coconut incident happened at Pura Goa Gaja and Tanah Lot.

      Infact, Sudha has mentioned about the innocence of the Balinese people in a comment earlier.

      Glad you liked it and glad i made you nostalgic


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