Tanah Lot Temple

As one of the six cardinal temples of Bali and on of the most scenic, Pura Tanah Lot holds its own as Bali’s most visited temple. You may have seen it before on postcards and in guidebooks, with its multi-tiered meru (Pagodas) perched on a rocky outcropping in the sea, highlighted against the hazy hues of the sunset. The temple is not only scenic, but also shrouded in intriguing history and legend.

Tanah lot was founded by the Javanese priest Danghyang  Nirartha in the 16th century. Legend has it that he slept on the site one evening, and afterwards suggested that the Balinese build a sacred temple on that spot. The temple is one of the six cardinal temples in Bali that are strung out in a line down the west coast and on a clear day you can see all the way to another cardinal temple, Pura Uluwatu on the southwestern coast of the Bukit Peninsula. As one of Bali’s many sea temples that are meant to honor the Gods and Goddesses of the ocean, this is a sacred site that is revered by many Balinese Hindus.

The name Pura Tanah Lot means ‘temple of the sea and the earth’, and once there it is easy to see why. The temple was built on top of jagged rocks ust off the coast, and it is only accessible at low tide, when a footpath appears along the sand and out to the rocks Inside, there are two pavilions and two shrines with a 7-tiered meru and a 3-tiered meru.

Locals believe that the temple is protected by small poisonous black and white sea snakes as well as one giant snake, all of which were originally Nirartha’s sashes that fell into the sea when he left the sacred spot. Another legend says that unmarried couples who visit the temple will break up soon afterwards, which is perhaps why you will never see young Balinese couples visiting the site.

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