If you fancy yourself a photographer and are planning a vacation in Bali, you should have the Pura Luhur Uluwatu Temple on your itinerary. It sits 250 feet atop a cliff, looking out at the vastness and beauty of the Indian Ocean. Another gorgeous location amongst those ubiquitous in Bali – offering all its beauty, even to an amateur photographer, to capture and take home.
Uluwatu (literal translation ulu = top and watu = stone) Temple is one of the six key sea temples of Bali, protecting the island from the Sea Gods. Just like Tanah Lot temple, this is a great place to admire the sunset.
Gaining inside access to the temple isn’t possible unless you are a local and are strictly there for religious purposes. In fact, to even get to the compound, you are required to cover yourself with a sarong (large length of fabric meant to be wrapped around the waist) if you are not dressed conservatively. Sarongs are made freely available to the visiting tourists for temporary use.
To get to the temple gates, you first need to brave through a small army of monkeys through a mini forest. The locals believe that the monkeys stand guard to this ancient temple.
The temple compound is also a great place to enjoy Balinese architecture and ancient sculptures.
The carvings on the walls and pillars credit their creation to Mpu Kunturah, a Majapahit monk close to 1000 years ago. The actual age of the temple isn’t exactly known but archeological evidence supports the claim that the main Uluwatu Temple has probably existed since the 10th century.
Around 500 years ago, a shrine was also added in honor of Dang Hyang Nirartha, a major proponent of Hinduism in Bali and a common inspiration behind most of the temples here. The Uluwatu Temple is dedicated to his form as Lord Rudra. He is said to have chosen this temple as his final resting place and it is believed that he attained eternal moksha (salvation) here.
The Kecak Dance of Bali is a major tourist attraction and is performed on various sites and temples across the island of Bali. But it is best enjoyed here at the Uluwatu Temple. It is performed on the adjacent cliff with the sunset as it’s backdrop adding to the drama.
The dance is performed between 6 pm to 7 pm everyday.
The temple and the viewing spots do get crowded in the evening post 4 pm; teeming with tourists looking for views of the sunset and the dance, so if you like your solace, an alternate way to enjoy being at the Uluwatu temple is to go there earlier in the day.
Especially on a weekday, the place can be very quiet and peaceful.
Sitting in a hut-like thatched platform shielded from the sun; looking down the cliff at the waves ebbing and receding from the rocks, you feel a karmic connection with those temple sages a thousand years ago who might have sat exactly where you are, learning to calm human anxiety by an unyielding inner strength.
The photographs you take, the beauty you imbibe through it, is at such time, only an extension of your inner peace unwilling to let go of the near-spiritual moment gained during an otherwise touristy set-up.