Sacred healing springs of Tirta Empul Temple

After our terrifying motorbike experience in south of Bali, Olivier and I are now a little bit shaken up to hire another motorbike for our next gallivanting. Of course, there are other options such as joining group tours or hiring a car for the day but gosh, our wallets will then have the nightmares! Luckily, our graceful host offered his new motorbike for cheap rental and guaranteed us that the traffic wouldn’t be as horrible as in Kuta. Imagine our relief! Our itchy feet would be out exploring far after all! 🙂

First on our list was Pura Tirta Empul, pura means temple and tirta empul mean holy water spring. It is located at Tampaksiring about 20km far from central Ubud. Legend has it that the sacred spring was created by the god Indra. His forces had been poisoned by Mayadanawa, so he pierced the earth to create a fountain of immortality to revive them. Mystical, isn’t it?

On our way over, we had a couple of wrong turns (as per usual) and at one point ended up in a wrong temple. But, we started to get a real sense of Balinese commute so we managed to keep our composure this time.

Tirta Empul Entrance.JPG

It was almost 10AM when we reached the temple grounds and there was hardly anybody YET but I heard it can get pretty packed once the tour buses arrive. So, without further ado, we went straight to the ticket booth and paid 15,000 rupiah for admission ticket. As with any Bali temple tour or a visit to a holy place, it is always important to dress respectfully. The simple Balinese temple visitor dress code is a traditional ‘kamen’ wrap around the lower body plus a sash around the waist. Women during their periods are prohibited entry to any temple or sacred site, and may enjoy the sights and attractions in the outer perimeters only.

Tirta Empul Balinese Woman.JPG

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Tirta Empul Statues.JPG

We came through the lush gardens and pathways adorned with statues and tropical plants that lead to its entrance. After stepping through this typical ‘candi bentar’ (temple gate), a vast walled courtyard welcomed us to the bathing pools where a large ‘wantilan’ meeting hall stands at the right.

tirta-empul-sarah

We quickly noticed that the people in the baths follow a purification ritual. Bathers start in the pool on the left and dip themselves under the first water spout. Once they have cleansed themselves under the first spout they join the next queue. They continue this process until they have been cleansed themselves under each of the 30 waterspouts that fill the two purification pools.

Second Pura Tirta Empul Bath Springs.JPG

It is tempting to try out the purification bathing ritual yourself; however, the formal routine is strictly meant for pilgrims and devotees. You might want to consult your guide who may ask a temple authority for further details.

Walking further on the left, there is a long rectangular pool carved of stone, filled with Koi and fed by the sacred spring via 12 fountains. This section of the temple is walled off on all four sides from the rest of the complex, which gives it a calm and relaxing atmosphere. Fat koi swim lazily in the pond waiting for their next meal from the tourists.

Tirta Empul Koi Pond.JPG

Behind the purification pools is the final section of Tirta Empul temple, the Jeroan. The Jeroan, or ‘inner courtyard’ is overlooked by most of the tourists who visit the temple. It’s a nice place to visit and relax after the hustle and bustle of the purification pools.

Tirta Empul Temple Grounds.JPG

Tirta Empul Temple Ground.JPG

Tirta Empul Balinese Women.JPG

The inner courtyard is where people come to pray. The front part of the courtyard is dominated by the large water spring that feeds the purification pools. The spring is filled with green algae and small fish swim between the reeds. Behind the spring are large Hindu shrines.

tirta-empul-pond

This part of the temple is nice to quickly explore. The shrines are brightly decorated, which contrasts with the starched white clothing of the Balinese who come here to pray. It’s a nice place to take photos or just sit down and relax for a few minutes.

Tirta Empul Backyard.JPG

Far at the front of the temple complex is a large parking area with its eastern side lined with art markets and rows of shops selling various curios and souvenirs. There are also several warungs or food stalls selling local food, snacks and refreshments. Although we were impressed by the affordable prices, we came across with the worst seller in Bali here, yes, worse than in Kuta. One woman sort of assaulted me so she could sell one of her sarongs. She held my wrist so tightly and didn’t want to let me go. I had to call out my husband for help. I was both shocked and appalled.

Aggressive seller aside, I liked visiting Tirta Empul temple. This is definitely one of the busiest temples that I have visited in Bali. It was interesting to see what an active temple is like, to see people praying and bathing under the waterspouts.

Have you visited Tirta Empul temple? Did you enjoy your visit to the temple? Let me know your thoughts in the comments below.

Travelosio Sarah Osio Signature

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49 thoughts on “Sacred healing springs of Tirta Empul Temple

  1. Hi, Sarah. The temple looks so serene. From the photos, and because I have never been there, it is my impression that it does not appear to be crowded. Which is good, because I always think of temples as sacred ground, no matter which religion. And so, I expect it to be serene. A place that is more spiritual than anything else.

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  2. I have not visited this temple yet. But I have visited other temples there years ago. It is interesting or fascinating to observe locals. We learn a lot through observation and by listening to their stories.

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  3. What an exciting place to visit. the pictures are absolutely beautiful! I would love to visit here and just reflect and enjoy the scenery. -Breyona Sharpnack

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  4. I’ve been hesitant to visit Bali but after reading a few of your posts and devouring your gorgeous photographs, it makes me reconsider.

    I had a similar experience with a vendor in Vietnam. 3 women cornered me into a shop pulling at my arms. They wouldn’t let me go until I started screaming. I guess it’s these kinds of experiences that go hand-in-hand in traveling, the beautiful and the unfortunate! 🙂

    I look forward to seeing more of your travels! 🙂

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  5. The place looks so serene and well grounded. Interesting and sounds magical for me. I would love to visit this place and will note this down for future reference. Bali is such an enchanted place and ive included it on my bucket list.

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  6. Oh I’ve seen temples in photos but not active ones and your photos are wonderful! Everything there looks bright peaceful though it is the busiest temple in Bali. What does actually the bathing or cleansing means when they do it?

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  7. Bali is such an amazingly beautiful country and this temple looks just as beautiful. It’s great to visit these places early when there is no one around. It kind of makes it seem extra special. Like it was just made for you. I think I’d love to visit there someday!

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  8. What an amazing thing to witness! To me it seems like a good idea that the ritual is still restricted to pilgrims and devotees otherwise tourists would all jump on board!

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    1. I totally agreed with you Laura, for as long as we can see from the outside I am fine with it. I respect tradition but I am equally curious also. So, boundaries must be set to maintain the sanctity of their ceremonies.

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  9. Temples are sacred grounds. Your visit there doesn’t appear crowded and it’s good. Indonesia, like other countries, have rich cultures. Temples have not become mainstream because much of the stories we hear from Indonesia are from Bali, its beaches, and how good they are. This experience here is different. Thanks for sharing!

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  10. Most temples are filled with tourists, this one is definitely worth going to since you get to see the locals in action. I would love to walk around and just appreciate the beauty of the structures here!

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  11. Wow, all I know about Bali is it’s amazing beaches.. didn’t know that it has temples and sacred places too! This reminds me of my trip to Thailand where temples are very abundant. Dress codes are very strict too. Glad you were able to see the place without too much crowd yet. The pictures doesn’t look crowded yet. Hopefully, one I can visit this too.

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  12. I have not visited this temple yet, and I haven’t heard about it as well. This temple is very unique for they have this kind of healing spring. Very informative like as if I’m traveling with you. I never had any chance to see temples outside the Philippines. Hopefully very soon.

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  13. I haven’t been to this temple but your pictures make me go there. I really like that it’s peaceful and less crowded. I can see you had a wonderful visit to the temple.

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  14. I’ve never visited the temple but I’d love to. I always loved those historical places and the religious ones have a lot of history as well. I’m always eager to know more about the culture or the rites. It also looks so nice, with the water and architecture it just feels so relaxing

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