Things to Do in Bali – Visit a Temple or Three

May 12, 2012

One of our favorite things to do in Bali is visit the local temples. The village temple acts as the center of everyday religious activities for the village inhabitants. Other temples are reserved for festivals and special ceremonies. Time your visit with one of Bali’s many holidays or on a temple’s anniversary, called an odalan, to be sure and witness a religious ceremony. If you can make it for the odalan of Pura  Batur Sari, a royal temple devoted to Mount Batur, you will be sure to see the ritual dancing that occurs with some ceremonies.

There are numerous temples or “puras” in and around Ubud. Several Balinese temples are home to elaborate carvings: Pura Goa Gajah, known as the Elephant Cave, is famous for an elephant carving, and Pura Yeh Pulu is also host to a variety of life-size carvings depicting everyday Balinese life. The holy waters of Bali are another reason that the locals visit certain temples — Pura Tirta Empul, which dates back to the 10th century, is known as the purifying temple for its holy spring that is said to not only cleanse your body, but clear your mind. Another temple you won’t want to miss is Pura Besakih, which locals call the “Mother Temple”. Perched at 3,000 feet on the slopes of Mount Agung, this complex of 23 separate temples is considered the most important Hindu temple in Bali.

Be sure to observe temple etiquette in active temples. If you are unsure of the customs, ask any native for advice. A few tips: Modest clothing and demure behavior is appreciated, and it is traditional to wear a sash tied around the waist when visiting a temple. Be respectful of those who are praying, and be sure to keep children from climbing on the structures.

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