One of the most important landmarks in Bali, Tanah Lot Temple is famous for its unique location offshore and its spectacular sunsets. An attraction not to be missed on any Bali holiday, Tanah Lot is an ancient Hindu shrine located about 20 minutes northwest of Kuta. Perched atop a rocky outcrop in the sea, the temple is surrounded by crashing waves and is a dramatic holy site for visitors and worshippers.
Situated in Beraban village, the temple is located in the Tabanan region and is a popular stop on many Bali cultural and sightseeing tours. Onshore, the site is peppered with smaller shrines, shops, restaurants and a cultural park which regularly presents dances and performances. The temple marks the former meditational site of Dang Hyang Nirartha, a Hindu high priest who travelled from East Java to spread Hinduism in Bali in 1489.
Arriving in this beautiful area of Bali, the priest established a site to honour Baruna the sea god and to share his teachings with the villagers of Beraban. However the village chief opposed this and gathered his followers to drive out the priest. In resistance, the priest performed an incredible task – he shifted a large rock he used for meditation out into the sea while transforming his holy sashes into snakes to guard the rock’s base. Humbled, the chief acknowledged the priest’s powers and pledged his allegiance. The priest gifted the chief a holy kris dagger before he went on his way. This dagger is now one of the sanctified heirlooms located in the Kediri royal palace.
Due to its unique location, Tanah Lot Temple faces the constant threat of erosion. After centuries of being battered by large waves, the rock base reached significant degradation in 1980 and required preservation efforts which were carried out by the Balinese government with the assistance of the Japanese government. After full restoration, one third of Tanah Lot’s current base is actually comprised of artificial rock to withstand the constantly crashing waves.
Although visitors are not permitted to enter the temple grounds, the cultural offerings and spectacular panoramic views are certain highlights. At high tide the causeways are impossible to cross as they are submerged in water. At low tide you can cross to look at the rock base where legend says the guardian sea snakes still dwell around Tirta Pabersihan fountain. A natural water spout, the fountain provides the holy water for all the temples in the surrounding area.
Open from 7am to 7pm, the temple also features onshore shines that host prayer sessions for village life as well as the Penyawang, the spiritual gateway to Tanah Lot Temple. There are also souvenir shops all along the pathway selling curios, art and traditional snacks.