One beside the lake, other amidst the sea

How can you visit Bali and not see its temples. I read somewhere, that there are more temples in Bali than houses. Although that sounds overstated, there are still quite a handful of them on this island –often dubbed as ‘home of the gods’. We visited two ancient temples – one beside the lake – Ulan Danu and the other amidst the sea – Tanah Lot!

Panorama view of Ulan Danu and Lake Bratan

Panoramic view of Ulan Danu and Lake Bratan

At some point in history, Hinduism spread across several parts of Asia, including Indonesia. Although, Indonesia is mostly Muslim dominated now, Bali has preserved its Hindu roots in the most ancient form. The basic tenets of the religion has been kept intact – the belief in the holy trinity of Shiva, Vishnu and Brahma.

My Bali sojourn would have been incomplete without seeing at least a few of these temples. As we were really tired after a day spent hiking on Mount Batur (you can read it in a separate post here), we decided to keep it short and simple by only visiting two major temples – Ulun Danu in the mountains and Tanah Lot in the sea – in two distinct environs!

We hired a cab to take us to these two temples, as they were far apart.

Ulun Danu or Pura Bratan in Bedugul

Ulan Danu Temple

Ulan Danu Temple

The drive was about 1 hour from Ubud. As we left the Ubud center, our window view soon turned into a country side with lush paddy fields.

The eleven tiers dedicated to Lord Shiva

The eleven tiers dedicated to Lord Shiva

Ulun Danu or more popularly known as Pura Bratan is located on the banks of Lake Bratan in Bedugul Mountain – north of Ubud. It’s the most photogenic temple in Bali! Ulun Danu is a water temple where Dewi Danu is worshipped for fertile land and good harvest, the fertile land of Bedugul is considered a blessing of the Goddess. It’s believed that 11 stories of the main temple complex are dedicated to Lord Shiva and his wife Parvati. Interestingly the temple also has a Buddha statue.


Ulan Danu and Lake Bratan

Ulun Danu is a picturesque temple with the enormous and serene lake Bratan amidst the mountains of Bedugul. It was misty and cloudy with a cool breeze keeping us happy. I was glad I had my pullover to keep me warm.

We spent about 45 minutes clicking pictures of the beautiful temple and the lake while also enjoying the cooler climes.

Tanah Lot and the sunset

Tanah Lot Temple on the rock formation

Tanah Lot Temple on the rock formation

Our next destination was Tanah Lot, the famous sea temple in South-west Bali. We were heading there for the famous sunset. As the distances are pretty huge in Bali and we started from Bedugul, it took us about 2 and a half to 3 hours to reach Tanah Lot.


Another of the 7 sea temples in the vicinity

The way to Tanah Lot is highly commercialized as hordes of tourists visit the temple every day and the nearby cliff area.

The Sunset at Tanah Lot

Sunset at Tanah Lot and the mighty Indian Ocean

Although the main temple is on a small rock formation, you cannot access it during high tide as sea water separates the temple from the banks. Luckily we went there during low tide and we could access the temple. However, only Balinese people are allowed inside the temple. On the temple precincts, priests put tika/tilak of rice and sandalwood on your forehead and give you flowers. You are expected to put in some money as offering in the nearby donation box. This practice is similar to how you pray in Hindu temples in India.

It’s believed that Dang Hyang Nirartha built the Tanah Lot temple on the rock formation in the 16th century with the help of some fisherman. Legend says that several poisonous sea snakes guard the temple. In fact many travel websites warn you to stay away from the walls of the temples, where they are sometimes believed to be hiding.

It is also one of 7 sea temples on Bali’s south-west coast where it is believed that one temple is visible from the other.

It’s interesting being an Indian as well as a Hindu to witness Hinduism in this faraway land – that too in a somewhat distinct form as compared to how it is practiced in India.

The sunset from the cliffs of Tanah Lot temple area was memorable. The mighty Indian Ocean was fierce and we called it a day and returned to our hotel with vivid memories of the two temples – one beside the lake and one amidst the sea!

Important Information:

  • Entrance fee to Ulan Danu is IDR 30,000 per person.
  • The tickets can be bought at the entrance of the temple.
  • The temple is open from 7:00 am to 5:00 pm every day.
  • Entrance fee to Tanah Lot isIDR 30.000 / person
  • The tickets can be bought at the entrance of the temple.

There are other temples on my wish list such as the Besakih on the slopes of Mount Agung – which is considered the most important and holy temple in Bali that withstood the Mount Agung eruptions of 1963.

Since I couldn’t see all that I wanted to, I am definitely going to revisit Bali.


About nilakshi

Needless to say, I am a writer. Here on my blog you will find from the most mundane to the most interesting facets of life. My writings are a reflection of my experiences of everyday life. I love to write travel blogs, and anything and everything that catches my eye. You are all invited to comment, criticize, debate, and discuss on the topics.
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3 Responses to One beside the lake, other amidst the sea

  1. The sea temples are amazing.


  2. nilakshi says:

    Thanks! ya sea temples are an amazing concept! great that someone built them way back in the 16th century 🙂


  3. Pingback: Smell and Drink Poop Coffee – the most expensive cuppa in the world! | Been there, done that

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