Tanah Lot is one of the most beautiful temples in Bali, as well as being one of the most important. It means “Sea Temple of the Earth”. 13 kilometers west of Tabanan in Beraban village, the temple is uniquely placed upon a rock formation that stands away from the coast, which makes it appear to be floating on the water during high tide. World Monuments Watch lists it as one of the 100 most endangered and historical sites in the world. As one of the most popular places of interest in Bali, Tanah Lot temple without a doubt serves up a sweet sunset.
It is said that Nirantha, King Waturenggong’s priestly teacher and poet, who came to Bali from East Java in 1537, built Tanah Lot. Bendesa Beraben, the area’s holy leader, became very jealous when his followers joined Nirartha and ordered him to leave. Using his magical powers, Nirantha left by simply moving the rock upon which Tanah Lot was built from the land into the sea and changed his scarf into the sacred, poisonous snakes that still guard the temple. Later, Bendesa Beraben converted to Nirantha’s teachings.
The snakes (ular suci) live in sandy holes just above the waterline along the beach. When the tide is out, they slide into the temple. Snakes are holy creatures in Bali. They should not therefore be disturbed.
Many Balinese also come to pray and they must be respected. There are two pavilions and two black thatched-roof meru shrines-one with seven-tiers, dedicated to Sanghyang Widi Wasa, the Supreme God, and the other with three-tiers, dedicated to Nirantha.
Like all Bali temples, Tanah Lot celebrates odalans, once every Balinese year of 210 days; the birthday falls close to the festivals of Galungan and Kuningan, when ancestor spirits are invited to visit their family shrines. Four days after Kuningan, Hindus from all over Bali come laden with offerings, rice cakes, fruit, carved palm leaf, and holy water to pray to the gods and goddesses. Women carry towers of these offerings on their heads, waiting until low tide to walk over the concrete walkway and up rock-cut steps to the temple. Only Hindus may climb the temple stairway and enter the grounds.
At high tide, when the walkway is submerged, the waves can be rough. It is best to arrive at low tide, which is around noon during a full moon.
With such a majestic view at hand, it would be a shame not to share it with someone special.
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