Located approximately 20 minutes northwest of Denpasar, Taman Ayun Royal Family Temple is a Bali landmark and popular tourist attraction. A magnificent example of traditional architecture, the temple complex is situated in Mengwi village in the Badung region and features courtyards and enclosures as well as expansive gardens, fish ponds and lotus.
Built in 1634 by Tjokerda Sakti Blambangan, the ruler of the kingdom at the time, the architecture was heavily influenced by the Chinese. Undergoing significant restoration in 1937, the temple complex is considered the ‘Mother Temple’ and its impressive profile is dominated by the towering tiers of temple shrines. These lofty levels reach skywards as a gesture of reverence for noble ancestors and deities.
A main site for worship among the people of Mengwi, the temple serves as a unified symbol for the people of Mengwi and its royal family. The temple complex of Taman Ayun Royal Family Temple is comprised of four different divisions, each ranking higher than the other. The Jaba is the first or ‘outer division’ of the temple complex and is only accessible through a single entrance the leads to a walkway over the ponds. Just inside the entrance is a small guardian shrine and to the right you’ll find a large ‘wantilan’ hall for communal gatherings. Also seen in this area is a tall fountain whose spouts jut out to cardinal directions. In the following court Pura Luhuring Purnama, a small temple compound, can be seen.
The second and third terraces are a little higher than the first and in order to enter, visitors must pass through the second gate to Bale Pengubengan, a small shelter featuring ornamental depictions of Dewata Nawa Sanga, the nine Hindu gods which guard the compass points. To the east is a small temple known as Pura Dalem Bekak while in the west, an 8m high bell tower is known as Bale Kulkul to the locals. If you climb up the tower you will be greeted with two rectangular hanging wooden bells and rewarded with spectacular views of the entire temple complex.
The fourth and final court of Taman Ayun Royal Family Temple ranks the highest as it is the most sacred. Known as Utama Mandala, the central gate is ornately decorated and is only opened during important ceremonies, as this is the entry to sacred paraphernalia and consecrated heirlooms. To the east is another gate which is used for daily access. There are several tiers of all different sizes and outlines which rise up into the temple skyline.