Monday, June 10, 2019

My Bali Holidays - May 2019 : Pura Tanah Lot - the sea temple

The moment we  passed through Kuta at night to reach our hotel, we realised that this place has got all the ingredients the normal tourists would wish to have. For example, Kuta beach, Shopping centres, multi-cuisine restaurants including a few Indian restaurant chains like Queens of India, Kailash Parbat were within the walking distance of our hotel in Kuta. Denpasar International Airport was within 2 kms of distance from our hotel. 
Kuta is also a centrally located town for excursions to popular tourist spots like Bali Safari and Marine Park, Tajung Benoa beach for water sport activities and visiting Turtle Island, Tajung harbour for sunset dinner cruise, Tanah Lot sea temple etc. For tourists who wish to stay awake in ungodly hours, there are many nightclubs in Kuta. For solo travellers, there are a number of two-wheeler rental agencies. But those tourists who prefer some quite, serene, and spiritual place, Kuta may not be the preferred place for them to stay. As I said earlier, for the first time visitors to Bali, Kuta is the convenient base for covering the popular tourist spots. 
During the 4-day stay in Kuta, we covered Bali Safari Park, Devdan Cultural Show at Nusa Dua, Benoa beach for water sports activities and visit to Turtle Island, Sunset Dinner Cruise from Tajung harbour, Pura Tanah Lot temple and visit to shopping centres around Kuta. 

Bali Safari Park had Tiger and Elephant shows besides viewing wild animals from Safari vehicle. Since we had seen such type of animal shows and safari during our visit to Safari World in Bangkok, there was not much of a  novelty for us in the shows and the safari.
As a part of the Tiger Show, this tiger walked over the man made ridge and was supposed to cross over the man-made waterfall by jumping to the other side  to  come down to the lawn. But instead, the tiger  sat down and started drinking water from the small pond created from the waterfall. The tiger followed the instructions from the trainer only after quenching the thirst.
A lion came out the den and crossed the road after our safari vehicle moved forward. Clicked from the back seat of the safari vehicle.

In the evening, we went for the famous Devdan Show at Nusa Dua Theatre located 15 kms south-east of Kuta. It is a 90-minute show (7.30-9.00 pm)depicting Indonesia's diverse cultural heritage in the form of dances with pleasing costumes. Other important features of this show are the mind blogging acrobatics, excellent light and sound effects and the real looking sets. It is a well presented show. Photography is strictly prohibited during the performance of the show. The organiser do not seem to object  taking pictures at the end of the show when all the artists present themselves to bid good-bye to the audience.
Balinese dancers in Devdan Show. Photo courtesy: Devdan's video of the preview of the show.
The next day, after breakfast, we drove to Benoa beach (18 kms south-east from Kuta). The beach appears to be one of the busiest centres for water sports activities. At the beach, we took a glass bottom boat to visit Turtle Island, about 20 minutes ride from the beach. The sea water is crystal clear even at the shore. We could briefly see through the glass bottom of the boat, some marine lives under the sea but it was not a spectacular under sea view. We saw mostly small fishes and seaweeds.
Tajung Benoa beach.

The visit to Turtle Island was a great disappointment for me due to high expectations. I was under the impression that the Turtle Island was a place for breeding giant green turtles. It would have been interesting to know the methods of conservation of turtles.  But it was not so. What the authorities seems to have done is that they have brought a dozen or so turtles from the breeding centre for tourists to watch and hold for photo shoots. I guess, by evening, these turtles would be completely exhausted by tourists handling them. We spent about 20 minutes and returned to Benoa beach. We did only Banana boat ride as others water sports activities like para sailing, snorkelling, fish fly, flyboard etc were not meant for senior citizens.
Holding turtles for photo shoot is one of the major activities for tourists in the Turtle Island.
View of Banoa beach with water sport activities from the restaurant.
In the evening, we had a booking for Bounty Sunset Dinner Cruise departing from Tajung Benoa harbour at 5.30 pm. It was the usual dinner cruise for tourists that are available in tourist places like Panaji in Goa and Bangkok - Orchestra with local dances, sunset view followed by the buffet dinner.  The cruise ended at 8.00 pm.
Vessels and boats at Tajung Benoa harbour clicked from Cruise ship. 
The next day's schedule was a relaxed one - visits to shopping areas in around Kuta after 10.00 am and visit to Pura Tanah Lot temple in the afternoon.
After lunch, we drove to Pura Tanah Lot temple (22 kms from Kuta). On the way, we stopped at a big shopping centre famous for mementos. After spending about an hour or so, we continued our journey to Pura Tanah Lot (Pura=Temple, Tanah=Land, Lot=Sea). It is a temple on a hill surrounded by sea just off the shore. It is a sea temple in the honour of Varuna, the Sea God for Balinese who is the guardian deity for the prosperity of oceans.
Legend says that it was a Hindu priest named Nirartha who is said to have founded the temple sometime in the fourteenth century. Only bona fide devotees are allowed to climb the rock-carved stairway located at the side of the holy cave.
We reached the outskirt of the temple around 4.00 p.m. There are ample parking space of vehicles of all types. There are many restaurants and shops off the road skirting the parking lot. After a few metres' walk on the footpath, a lane takes to the main entrance of the temple complex (not the temple). From the temple complex, the second gate leads to the sea shore. Fortunately for us, it was a low tide time and we could walk up to the base of the temple without our feet getting drenched in sea waves.
The gate to the temple complex of Pura Tanah Lot.
The second gate - the split gate to enter the temple complex.
A pavilion and a tower inside the temple complex. The Pura Tanah Lot is  about 100m from here.

We walked about 100m on a rocky patch to reach Pura Tanah Lot temple. Due to low tide, the sea water had receded quite a lot but we had to walk on rocky patch carefully as it was still damp and rocks were covered with mosses in some places which made the path slippery. We could not go inside the temple as the temple authorities have made it out of bound for tourists. And there is a valid reason for it. The space inside the temple is very small to accommodate a large number of tourists. Being one of the very popular destinations of Bali, the temple attract a large number of tourists especially in the evening to watch sunset and the silhouette of the temple against the setting sun. I found this place to be the most photogenic among the tourist spots I visited in Bali. 
Sea waves hitting the rock below Tanha Lot temple. In the foreground is moss laden rock beds.
Pura Tanah Lot temple during low tide. Note that tourists can walk to reach very close to the temple.
The sea waves hitting the rocks at the north-west side of Tanah Lot temple in the evening. Luckily, it was low tide time.
At the base of the temple is a holy water cave. Balinese Hindus visit the cave for collecting the holy water which is supposed to have some curative properties. However, the holy water cave can be visited only during low tide. We did not visit the holy water cave as it was crowded.
On the north-west side of the temple, the authorities have made a long pathway through the gardens which offers good views of Pura Tanah Lot and  another small temple atop a hollow rock extension from the mainland to the sea. This pathway gets crowded for the sunset view.
Tanah Lot temple on the right. During the high tide, place gets submerged with sea water up to the wall on the left. So devotees cannot visit the temple and holy water cave during the high tide. This was shot in the  late evening from the pathway for viewing sunset.
Another view of Pura Tanah Lot temple from sunset view pathway.
This rock formation lies north-west of Tanah Lot temple on which a rock temple is built.There is a hollow natural rock pass over the sea to the mainland.
We did not wait for watching sunset view. Instead we decided to have coconut water in the shopping area before driving back to our hotel in Kuta.
Bali has been known as the island of temples. There are hundreds of Balinese Hindu temples spread over the entire island. Besides, almost all of the independent residential places in Bali have private temples in their court yards. In fact, initially, I was mistaken some residential places in Bali for some small temple complexes.
All pictures by the author except the one specifically accredited.


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