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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.