16th century Tanah A lot temple - Bali

Bali's #1 Tourist Attraction

When researching Bali and planning out my trip, I came across this picturesque rock island in the middle of the sea that was home to a ancient pilgrimage sea temple.

It was the Tanah Lot temple that sold me on Bali as a whole and I couldn't wait to photograph it. I rented a car with a driver for R500 ($50) back in 2013 per day and drove around the island for a duration of 10 hours. This was my first stop.

The Tanah lot temple (meaning land sea in the Balinese language) is Bali's most prized tourist attraction. It is located in Tabanan, about 20 kilometres from the main city of Denpasar. It is said that the temple has been in existence since the 16th century and built by the holy monk - Dang Hyang Nirartha.

In Bali, it is customary to honour all the gods and spirits especially those of nature, and you can see the Balinese Hindus doing so when passing by their houses and temples. They considered this rock island as a holy place of worship thus building a shrine to honor the sea gods of Dewa Baruna and Bhatara Segara.

There are 8 temples along the south-west coast line and each temple was built within eyesight of the next.

At the base of the island it is said that the temple is guarded by venomous sea snakes (Ular Suci) that protect the temple from evil spirits and intruders. It is purportedly known that the cave below the temple is home to a giant holy snake. Purportedly meaning - it is said to be true or real but not definitely true or real.

A few locals owning snakes and aware of this mythology can be found inside the cave and for a small fee you can have your own holy experience with these snakes. It is claimed that if your hand is on the snake while praying that everything you are praying for will come true.

In 1980 the temple rock face started to crumble and the Japanese government loaned the Indonesian government money to restore this iconic landmark. Over one third of the road face is artificial but clearly disguised so you won't be able to tell the difference.

This is my favourite part - you can only access the temple at low tide, so carefully plan your visit. I was monitoring the tides and sunset times closely before heading out there.

During high tide the rock island vanishes leaving you with a view of the ancient Hindu shrine amidst the constantly crashing waves. It gives you the illusion that the temple is floating in the sea.

Bali in general is famed for their breathtaking sunsets, but sunsets here are just jaw dropping during the magic hour. It ranks high on every photographers list of landscapes to capture in their lifetimes.

It's also romantic to and a special place to share with a loved one.

A note to all photographers wanting to visit

The sun sets in the middle of the sky!

Being a photographer who is constantly studying my subject (being the environment in this case), I have this inherent ability to notice when things are different. It will annoy me to the point of trying to figure out why.

One thing that 'annoyed 'me (only a little) was where the sun sets. Yes - where! The Bali sun sets in the middle of the sky and not on the horizon line.

The first night I thought I still had time to capture that perfect shot and ended up missing the sunset, instead I was greeted by fast approaching darkness. I was so bleak but it got me thinking of why this could be? I am used to the sun setting on the horizon line, but why is it so different here. It bugged me so much, I just had to ask the locals why.

Bali is on the equator line, and has no twilight. Darkness falls almost instantly after sunset.

At low latitudes, the sun sets perpendicular to the horizon, while at higher latitudes, the sun can set at a more oblique angle, allowing it to remain close to the horizon after sunset for a longer period of time.

Places on the equator experience the quickest rates of sunrise and sunsets in the world. Such places also have a theoretical constant 12 hours of day and night throughout the year.

Interesting hey?

As much as it annoyed me they were the most beautiful sunsets I have ever experienced in all of my travels to over 50 countries.

Tanah Lot Temple Ceremony

Image Credit: www.baliartsgallery.com

The Tanah Lot anniversary ceremony is done over 3 days and is held every 6 months on the Buda Wage Langkir, four days after Kuningan Day.

Before entering the temple, individuals must first pray at Beji Kaler - a sacred spring which is located just below the temple. They then drink the holy water to sanctify their souls before they can enter into the main temple.

Other temples in the area

Penataran Temple is situated in the north of the Tanah Lot temple and is a place to pray to God for his manifestation for happiness and wellness.

Penyawang Temple is situated on the west side of Penataran Temple and is an alternative place to pray during high tide when people can't reach Tanah Lot temple.

Jero Kandang Temple is situated around 100 meters on the west side of Penyawang temple and has been built to pray for the wellness of the cattle and crops.

Enjung Galuh Temple is situated close to Jero Kandang Temple and has been built for the goddess of prosperity - Dewi Sri and used for the people to pray for their land's fertility.

Batu Bolong Temple is situated around 100 meters on the west side of Enjung Galuh Temple. It is used for the Melasti (purifying) ceremony and considered a sacred spring in Bali. People believe that the holy water from this spring can purify anything bad.

Tri Antaka Monument was built to honor 3 heroic men: I Gusti Ketut Kereg, I Wayan Kamias and I Nyoman Regug, who had battled and defended the island against the NICA (Netherlands Indies Civil Administration) armed forces on June 1946 in Tanah Lot territory.

Pakendungan Temple is situated on the west side, around 300 meters from Tanah Lot Temple. Pekendungan temple is the place where Dang Hyang Nirartha meditated once before and in this temple the holy keris was given to Bendesa Beraban Sakti.

All images on this site is the property of Chantelle Flores unless specified

(www.51countriesandcounting.com and www.kzaravisual.com)