Pura Tanah Lot: Temple of Land in the Middle of the Sea

 

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      This is the LAST temple we visited in Bali.  It is the most photographed temple in the whole island and has graced the pages of travel magazines, travel blogs and numerous tourist guidebooks about Bali.  It is also the most visited since it is very near Denpasar (the capital of Bali) - and we saw that for ourselves.  Tourists and locals literally swarmed in every square inch near the temple!

 

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      Tanah Lot means “Land in the Sea” in Balinese language.  Located in Tabanan, about 20 km from Denpasar, the temple sits on a large offshore rock which has been shaped continuously over the years by the ocean tide.

 

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      Tanah Lot is claimed to be the work of the 15th century priest Nirartha. During his travels along the south coast he saw the rock-island’s beautiful setting and rested there. Some fishermen saw him, and bought him gifts. Nirartha then spent the night on the little island. Later he spoke to the fishermen and told them to build a shrine on the rock for he felt it to be a holy place to worship the Balinese sea gods.

 

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      The Tanah Lot temple was built and has been a part of Balinese mythology for centuries. The temple is one of seven sea temples around the Balinese coast. Each of the sea temples were established within eyesight of the next to form a chain along the south-western coast.

 

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      This is an interesting story shared by our guide. At the base of the rocky island, poisonous sea snakes are believed to guard the temple from evil spirits and intruders. A giant snake purportedly protects the temple, which was created from Nirata’s scarf when he established the island.  Needless to say, we didn’t venture down the rocky island anymore!

 

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      We didn’t stay long enough to witness the actual sunset in Tanah Lot.  We had a long day. Besides, busloads and busloads of tourists were coming in every minute.  And before long, there was already a sea of humanity crowding the temple site and getting a pretty postcard-picture perfect photo was near to impossible.

 

      This is the “touristy” side of Bali.  But we now know that there is more to Bali than this …

 

 

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